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Universal sees lots of green as ‘The Grinch’ tops box office

By Agencies - Nov 13,2018 - Last updated at Nov 13,2018

Scence from ‘The Grinch’ (Photo courtesy of imdb.com)

LOS ANGELES — “The Grinch” proved it is never too early for some holiday cheer as the animated family flick stole the weekend box office with $67.6 million from 4,141 locations, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations reported on Monday.

Illumination and Universal’s adaptation of the Seuss holiday tale now ranks as the best start for a Christmas film. Fellow new offerings “Overlord” and “The Girl In the Spider’s Web” were not as gleeful, with mediocre debuts of $10 million and $8 million, respectively.

Benedict Cumberbatch voiced the animated green grouch in “The Grinch”, which cost the studio $75 million to make. While it trails the start of Illumination’s latest Dr Seuss story “The Lorax” ($70 million), “The Grinch” should benefit from the holiday corridor.

Though critics gave “Grinch” a mediocre 55 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — with many noting the second big-screen adaptation did not add much to the original 1966 TV special — audiences, for the most part, embraced the movie and gave it an A- CinemaScore. Opening weekend crowds were 53 per cent female and 29 per cent under the age of 12.

Universal’s president of domestic distribution Jim Orr gave a nod to the film’s witty and snarky advertising campaign that played on the Grinch’s cynical humour for buoying opening numbers.

“Our marketing was eye-catching and unique,” Orr said. “It took full advantage of the character. It was purposeful because we knew we had a big property.” Newcomers “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” and “Overlord” were not able to best “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Fox’s Queen biopic showed staying power with a solid $31.2 million in its sophomore frame, representing a drop of just 41 per cent. That brings its 10-day domestic total just shy of $100 million.

Paramount’s “Overlord”, produced by J.J. Abrams, was able to nab third place, opening with opened with $10.2 million from 2,859 theatres.

It has not been all Yuletide joy at the box office. In fourth, Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” slipped over 50 per cent in its second weekend with $10.1 million to bring its domestic total to a disappointing $35 million. The studio is banking on its overseas run to justify the family film’s pricey $125 million budget. Globally, “Nutcracker” has made $96.7 million, including $61.4 million from international.

Another seasonal film, Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”, placed fourth, at $10.1 million. It stars Mackenzie Foy as a young girl who travels to a magic land in search of a key to unlock a gift from her late mother. Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman also star.

Fifth spot went to Warner Bros’s “A Star Is Born,” which earned $8.1 million in its sixth week out. Bradley Cooper, in his directorial debut, plays a hard-drinking musician who has a star-crossed love affair with a talented young singer played by Lady Gaga.

While “Spider’s Web’s” $7.8 million debut was in line with the studio’s projection and not too far behind the start of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s” ($12.7 million), the second film in the Millennium series does not look like it will have the same legs as David Fincher’s original film. Fede Alvarez directed “Spider’s Web,” which was budgeted at $43 million. Co-produced by Columbia, MGM, and New Regency, it cost significantly less to make than “Dragon Tattoo”, however, that film played strong throughout the holiday season and went on to earn a huge $102 million stateside and $230 million worldwide.

“Nobody’s Fool” ($6.6 million), “Venom” ($4.9 million), “Halloween” ($4 million) and “The Hate U Give” ($2.1 million) rounded out the top 10.

Among arthouse releases, Sony’s “The Front Runner” with Hugh Jackman launched in four locations on Tuesday to coincide with the midterm elections and picked up just $76,000 through Sunday.

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