In an upset, Doctor Sleep lost to Midway at the weekend box office. Four new wide releases debuted in multiplexes this past Friday, and all of them were targeting a different demographic. In addition to horror sequel Doctor Sleep and old school war drama Midway, there was also romantic-comedy Last Christmas and the John Cena vehicle Playing With Fire competing for ticket sales. Since there's a lot of variety in that group of titles, there seemed like there'd be enough money to go around, but there'd still need to be one weekend champion.
At the outset of the four-way showdown, it looked like Doctor Sleep would come out on top. The latest from director Mike Flanagan received positive word-of-mouth in the weeks leading up to its release, with critics praising it as a worthy followup to The Shining. And since The Shining is one of the more popular and iconic horror films of all-time, the expectation was there'd be solid interest in catching the sequel on the big screen. However, Roland Emmerich's Veterans Day tribute emerged as the winner.
Per Variety, Midway earned $17.5 million domestically in its first three days, edging out Doctor Sleep ($14.1 million) for the #1 position on the charts. The top five was rounded out by Playing With Fire ($12 million), Last Christmas ($11.6 million), and box office bomb Terminator: Dark Fate ($10.5 million).
This development is a bit troubling for Doctor Sleep, as it was initially pegged to post a debut in the mid-to-high $20 million range. A silver lining for Warner Bros. is that the film wasn't very expensive to make. Doctor Sleep was moderately budgeted at $45-55 million, meaning it never needed to break the bank in order to become profitable. Still, the studio is probably disappointed with this turnout, and it will need strong legs to ensure a lucrative run. One thing working in its favor is it'll be the lone mainstream horror movie on the market, allowing it to monopolize its target audience. Even as other high-profile offerings make their way to the big screen, Doctor Sleep may be able to salvage something and be a modest success.
Any celebration over Midway's surprising weekend win is probably muted; Emmerich's war drama cost $100 million to produce, making it one of the most expensive independent titles ever. There's still a long way to go before it even approaches the vicinity of making its money back (yet alone turn a profit), and Midway has an uphill climb to get there. The film was able to tap into patriotic pride for Veterans Day weekend, but it's poised to slide down the charts in the coming weeks, due to all of the other big movies coming out. It's nice Emmerich was finally able to get a passion project off the ground, but he'll probably have to take a loss.
- Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019
- Midway (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019