Eliza Scanlen, Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern and Florence PughGreta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’
In new release news for Wednesday, it was (more or less) an “everybody wins” Christmas. Sony’s Little Women topped the wide release newbies yesterday with a bountiful $6.425 million gross. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic novel has earned mostly rave reviews and not a little awards season heat. As much as we debate whether enough male awards voters are watching the movie (not to be a lech… but really?), it doesn’t need dudes to be a hit, and in the end making money is more important than winning Oscars. The Saoirse Ronan/Florence Pugh/Emma Watson/Eliza Scanlen/Laura Dern drama could easily top $25 million over the long Wed-Sun debut and then earn another $25-$35 million by New Year’s.
A24’s Uncut Gems followed up two stellar weekends in platform release with a wide expansion on Christmas Day. The Safdie Bros’ thriller, starring Adam Sandler as a debt-ridden jewelry store operator trying to juggle chainsaws to get out from under the doom of his own making, has earned rave reviews and Oscar buzz both for Sandler and for the movie itself. It earned a terrific $5.9 million on Wednesday to bring its domestic cume to $7.05 million. That’s the biggest opening day gross ever for an A24 release, and we could see an $11 million Fri-Sun debut and a $21 million Wed-Sun holiday gross. It’s, comparatively speaking, primed to become A24’s first outright blockbuster debut.
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Opening merely okay was Blue Sky and Fox’s Spies in Disguise. The (pretty good, natch) animated spy flick, starring Will Smith and Tom Holland, earned $4.8 million on Wednesday for what will hopefully be a $12 million Fri-Sun weekend and a $21 million Wed-Sun debut. It’s not an exact match, but Blue Sky’s Ferdinand earned $84 million domestic from a $13.4 million Fri-Sun debut in 2017, so Disney hopes that this one can leg out. Of course, with Disney now owning Fox, this is part of the plan. No matter if families spend their money on Frozen II, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker or Spies in Disguise, it’s all toward Walt Disney’s overall market share.
Opening in platform release in advance of an early January wide expansion was Sam Mendes’ dynamite 1917. The justly acclaimed action drama, a World War I thriller composed as if to be told in a single take, may be my favorite movie of the year. It earned $251,262 in 11 theaters for a stellar $22,842 per-theater average. Universal is hoping for a $600,000 Fri-Sun debut ($54,545 per-theater) and $975,000 over the Wed-Sun debut. Warner Bros.’ Just Mercy, a (quite good) legal drama starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx, earned an A+ from Cinemascore and $81,000 in four theaters ($20,268) yesterday. WB is hoping for $194,000 over the Fri-Sun frame and $315,000 over the Wed-Sun debut for the Destin Daniel Cretton-directed drama.
Adam Sandler in ‘Uncut Gems’
Both films will go wide on January 10. Despite certain folks arguing that there’s no room at the multiplex for anything that isn’t a superhero movie, there are a ridiculous number of good-to-great movies playing in wide release at the moment. There’s stuff for families, like Little Women, Frozen II, Jumanji: The Next Level and Spies in Disguise. There’s stuff for adults, like Uncut Gems, Parasite, Richard Jewell and Queen and Slim (although older kids can handle those too). And there are movies that are kinda-sorta appropriate for both adults and mature kids, like Black Christmas, Knives Out, Harriet, Ford v Ferrari and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It’s a buffet of top-notch cinema.
Every single one of these films is worth your time, money and attention. Sure, I hated the last Star Wars (plenty of folks liked it more than I did) and Cats didn’t quite work (even if I admire its chutzpah), but there is so much out the beyond the obvious “event movies” that are exactly the kind of movies that everyone complains can’t get made anymore in the studio system. There are sequels, remakes, adaptations, reinventions, true-life melodramas and wholly original studio programmers. There is literally something for everyone out there right now, ripe for the picking and ready to defy conventional wisdom about the strength of theatrical moviegoing and variety in theatrically-available product. Vote with your wallet.