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2018 Continues Strong With New Movies Over-Performing at the Box Office

New releases ’12 Strong’ and ‘Den of Thieves’ surprise over the weekend. 
By  · Published on January 22nd, 2018

New releases ’12 Strong’ and ‘Den of Thieves’ surprise over the weekend.

The number one movie at the box office over the weekend, again, was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. But not far behind that surprise hit’s $19.5M addition were newcomers 12 Strong and Den of Thieves with $15.8M and $15.2M, respectively. That’s pretty good for two releases with mostly negative reviews and little buzz otherwise.

Last fall, Box Office Pro’s experts predicted the two movies would only open to $10M and $6.5M in a long-range forecast. Then last week, the site updated expectations to show a slightly higher guess for the Afghanistan War movie starring Chris Hemsworth ($12M) and a slightly lower guess for the Gerard Butler and 50 Cent team-up ($5.9M). Even Jumanji was low-balled for only $18M.

Whatever the explanation for this over-performance, it seems to be in line with how 2018 is going so far. The previous weekendThe Commuter also surpassed the site’s long-range and short-range predictions ($12M/$13.5M) with a $13.7M holiday-weekend bow. The weekend before that, the sequel Insidious: The Last Key shot way past its forecasts in the vicinity of $16M-$20M to actually debut with $29.6M.

Meanwhile, the holdovers from late December 2017 have shown impressive numbers week after week into the new year. Jumanji, which Box Office Pro tracked early on as opening with only $22M and eventually winding up with a total domestic gross of just $175M. Instead, since its first week take of $52.8M, kicking off from a Wednesday release, the action comedy has so far grossed $316.5M just in North America (and $768M worldwide).

The Greatest Showman actually disappointed with its opening last month, but the musical has turned out to have tremendous legs (world record legs in fact) and remains in the top five on the weekend charts after a month in theaters — something that’s not just rare but phenomenal at a time when most Hollywood releases, even hits, come out and fall rather quickly. The Greatest Showman‘s opening weekend figure is now just 7.8% of its current (and far from done) domestic total of $113.1M.

Sadly, not all new releases have been sharing in this glory. Paddington 2, despite holding the current record for most reviews adding up to a 100% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes (aka being the best-reviewed movie of all time, for now), the lovable family film sequel only opened to $11M compared to forecast expectations of $19M-$20M. In its second weekend, the movie only dropped about 25% (better than the original’s 35%) for an additional $8M, but unless the bear continues to have long legs it’s not looking great for the franchise (here anyway — overseas the sequel has amassed $147M).

And the well-hyped Proud Mary had only debuted to about half of what was predicted for the Taraji P. Henson-led action thriller. And its drop in its second weekend was unfortunately 63%, resulting in only another $3.6M. The good thing is the movie didn’t cost a lot, so it’s not exactly a flop, but it’s not anywhere close to being a hit either.

Also, overall box office for the weekend is down a bit from last year this time, when Split and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage overshot expectations, the former especially surprising with its $40M debut. The total for that January 2017 weekend was $145M, with this year’s same three days amounting to $135M.

However, 2018 is looking good in general compared to 2017, mostly thanks to Jumanji. The total gross for the year just three weeks in is $742.7M, while at the same time last year we were at $708.7M (or $725.3M with adjustment made for inflation). Each of the three years prior were in better shape, but at least we’re seeing an upswing and can be optimistic for the months ahead.

Here is the estimated top 10 for the weekend, with new releases in bold and domestic totals to date in parentheses:

1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – $19.5M ($316.5M)
2. 12 Strong – $15.8M ($15.8M)
3. Den of Thieves – $15.2M ($15.2M)
4. The Post – $11.7M ($44.8M)
5. The Greatest Showman – $10.6M ($113.1M)
6. Paddington 2 – $8M ($24.8M)
7. The Commuter – $6.6M ($25.6M)
8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – $6.56M ($604.3M)
9. Insidious: The Last Key – $5.9M ($58.7M)
10. Forever My Girl – $4.2M ($4.2M)

Box office figures via Box Office Pro.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.