“Midway” Crashes into First Place on Lackluster Weekend


November 8-10, 2019

(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)


Midway $17.5 million
Doctor Sleep $14.1 million
Playing with Fire  $12.8 million
Last Christmas  $11.6 million
Terminator: Dark Fate  $10.8 million

Though studios and prognosticators (including me) predicted Doctor Sleep would be a big horror hit, the film got a tired reception from audiences at the box office. Instead, Roland Emmerich's big CGI World War II epic Midway took the top spot with an estimated $17.5 million. That's another weak showing for a No. 1 movie, and yet another Roland Emmerich disaster movie that got savaged by critics, joining the ranks of an unnecessary Independence Day sequel and a dreadful dramatization of the Stonewall Riots. Doctor Sleep instead opened in second place, and that will be one of the more baffling things of the year for me. It's far better than It: Chapter Two, but will only make a fraction of what that Stephen King adaptation has. Maybe Warner Bros. really should have opened this on Halloween weekend. (But that studio has got bigger problems at the moment than scheduling.)

Playing with Fire took the No. 3 spot, and the family comedy isn't setting the box office on fire. But I'm sure it will play like gangbusters on home video and streaming, where eager kids can replay all of John Cena's pratfalls. But it still did better than the slightly chilly reception received by Last Christmas, which again, would have gotten a lot more views if the trailer was constantly auto-playing on Netflix, next to some much worse rom-coms. Still, neither film had a huge budget, so it should return a decent investment for Paramount and Universal, respectively.

Terminator: Dark Fate went from bad to worse, falling four spots with $10.8 million. That's an even bigger drop-off than Genisys suffered. The film likely won't even cross $200 million worldwide, putting this as one of the year's biggest flops. A dark fate indeed.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: Honey Boy, the semi-autobiographical drama starring Shia LaBeouf. The film averaged a truly impressive $72,206 on its four screens.
  • Motherless Brooklyn and Arctic Dogs both dropped like stones, down to 14th and 16th place, respectively. They're making Terminator: Dark Fate look good.
  • Jojo Rabbit and Parasite continue to benefit from good word-of-mouth. In a month of release, the former has earned $9 million, while the latter has earned $11 million. That makes it the highest-grossing foreign-language film of the year.

Next week:

Ford v Ferrari is 2019’s last hope for an adult-targeted non-IP film to make some serious cash. Dads across America are hopefully lining up already, but I'm going to temper my expectations and say it will be No. 1, but only with $25 million. Charlie's Angels should be another case in reviving a project no one cares about, but it could still make $15 million. The Good Liar may have longer legs than both, but should only manage $10 million in its first weekend. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.