“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” Proves Movie Stars Still Matter


July 26-28, 2019

(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)


The Lion King $75.5 million
Once Upon a Time
in Hollywood 
$40 million
Spider-Man: Far from Home  $12.2 million
Toy Story 4 $9.8 million
Crawl $4 million

Even though The Lion King continued to rule, the big story this weekend is definitely Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The Disney remake dominated once again, though it dropped a sizable 60 percent. It's already made $350 million domestically in just 10 days, vaulting into the No. 4 position on the annual chart. By next week, it should be close to taking over second place. Oh, and it's already nearing $1 billion worldwide. Its performance has helped Disney become the highest-grossing studio of all-time in just seven months.  It should be noted that the studio has achieved this with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker still remaining.

But let's talk about the good: Despite boasting no pre-existing IP (other than an enduring cultural fascination with Charles Manson), an R-rating, and a runtime that seems to be lauded amongst comic book movies but questioned in non-blockbusters, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood opened with an excellent $40 million. That's the best opening for Quentin Tarantino in his storied career, topping Inglourious Basterds a decade ago. It's also among the top 5 debuts for both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. So the sky hasn't fallen completely. Audiences do still care about original stories with movie stars. It just might take two of this caliber – plus a true-crime angle – to get them to the theater.

Spider-Man: Far from Home earned another $12.2 million, officially topping Homecoming. It might not be able to pass Spider-Man 2's $373 million, but it's already far and away the biggest movie in the franchise worldwide. Toy Story 4 continued to hold strong as it nears $400 million. Adjusting for inflation, each movie has performed strongly, with Toy Story 3 as the top film and a bit of an outlier. Crawl hung around the top 5, bringing its total north of $30 million.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: Honeyland, a documentary about the last female bee hunter in Europe. The film won three awards at Sundance and averaged $15,000 on its pair of screens.
  • The Farewell added 100 screens, pushing its way into the top 10. The dramedy has earned $3.6 million in three weeks of limited release and goes wide next weekend.
  • After nine weeks in release, it looks like Rocketman won't crack $100 million. It also won't cross $200 million worldwide. Why this movie did fine while Bohemian Rhapsody nearly made $1 billion will baffle me forever.

Next week:

There's only one new wide release and it will definitely be the No. 1 movie. Hobbs & Shaw is the first spin-off from the Fast & Furious franchise. Will it perform just as well as those past few movies, somewhere in the $90-100 million range? It's certainly possible, but I have a gut feeling it will perform closer to the last few Mission: Impossible movies. I'm predicting a $65 million opening, and it could easily dominate throughout the entire month of August.


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.