Ford v Ferrari opens at number one, but the overall U.S. weekend box office was less than half of what it was this time a year ago in 2018. Outside of Disney, most of the major Hollywood studios have been having a rough time at the box office in 2019. Last month's Joker is one of the rare movies to exceed its commercial expectations this year, becoming the first R-rated film to ever make over $1 billion worldwide.
Things have gotten especially bad over the last few weeks, with sequels like Terminator: Dark Fate and Doctor Sleep performing much weaker than anticipated (in spite of having generally positive reviews, in both cases). That trend continued with this weekend's Charlie's Angels, which only opened with $8.6 million domestically and ultimately landed in third place behind last weekend's champion, Midway. Ford v Ferrari, on the other hand, was buoyed by its enthusiastic reception and managed to top the frame with a larger-than-anticipated $31 million.
Unfortunately, as ERC pointed out on Twitter, that wasn't enough to save the frame as a whole. The top five films over the weekend (Ford v Ferrari, Midway, Charlie's Angels, Playing with Fire, Last Christmas) collectively grossed less than half of what the movies in release a year ago did, back when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opened with $62.2 million. You can see the numbers for yourselves in the space below.
How bad was the BO this weekend compared to last year?— Exhibitor Relations Co. (@ERCboxoffice) November 17, 2019
2019 TOP 5: FORD V FERRARI #1
2018 TOP 5: FANTASTIC BEAST 2 #1
The overall box office for 2019 continues to lag behind 2018's pace, in spite of Avenger: Endgame becoming the biggest movie of all time and several films (Joker included) grossing well over $1 billion around the globe. Some people have pointed the finger of blame for the drop-off at streaming services like Netflix and the newly-launched Disney+, but previous studies have found that streamers aren't affecting theater attendance. If anything, there seem to be a myriad of factors responsible for this year's disappointing box office turnout, ranging from too many movies being released to a lack or awareness around certain films and/or a general disinterest towards many of the properties being rebooted.
Business is expected to pick up over this year's remaining six weeks, however, beginning with next weekend's two big releases: the Disney animated sequel Frozen 2 and Sony's Fred Rogers drama A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers). December is also looking promising at the moment, with Dwayne Johnson's Jumanji sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level, and the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, both arriving in time for the winter holidays. Attendance will probably still end up being down last year, but at least 2019 is in a decent position to finish on a strong note.