Tim Burton’s adequate live-action adaptation of Dumbo made an adequate debut at the domestic box office last weekend, cruising into first place while still managing to fly below studio expectations with a $45 million opening weekend. (Disney was reportedly hoping for at least $50 million, maybe even $60 million.) You could conclude, given the numbers, that a watered-down vision yields watered-down results. But that’s almost as facile a lesson as the film’s brazenly duplicitous critique of entertainment mergers, given that Dumbo did do better than some recent Disney releases (Pete’s Dragon, anyone?), and those who did make it out to the movie (mostly women over the age of 25, according to CinemaScore) seemed to like it okay, giving Dumbo an average audience score of “A-.” So don’t expect studios to start bankrolling bold visions any time soon—at least, not for family films.
In the R-rated horror movie realm, writer-director Jordan Peele continues to score one for the original voices, as Us came in second place in its second week with a $33.6 million weekend. That’s with virtually no change in the film’s number of screens, meaning there was a 52.7% drop in revenue between the film’s first and second weekends—which sounds like a lot, but is in fact utterly average, especially for a genre movie. So far, the movie’s made $174 million worldwide, nearly nine times its reported $20 million production budget; even with Pet Sematary coming out this weekend, a $200 million worldwide gross is looking likely for Peele’s latest.
Further down the box-office charts, Captain Marvel is closing in on $1 billion in worldwide revenue in its fourth week in theaters, adding another $20 million to the pot with a No. 3 spot on the domestic charts. Following that up is the week’s only real surprise: A fourth-place, $6.1 million bow for Unplanned, an “edgy” R-rated anti-choice film bankrolled by the My Pillow guy whose shameless fire-and-brimstone hucksterism led our own Vadim Rizov to characterize it as “an abortion about abortion” in his review. Unplanned’s tent-revival gimmickry extended to the film’s marketing, which over the weekend turned a temporary Twitter ban into its own free-speech cross to theatrically bear on social media. The account was reportedly caught up in a blanket suspension after another account linked to the Unplanned account was found to be in violation of Twitter’s rules; the name of that account, and why they were banned from Twitter, are two tidbits of information pointedly missing from Unplanned’s blustering self-martyrdom campaign.
Also surprising, given the seemingly ingenious pairing of star, director, and subject, was the poor performance of The Beach Bum, which came in at No. 10 for the worst opening of Matthew McConaughey’s career. Even Serenity did better, pulling in $4.5 million to The Beach Bum’s $1.8 million; it opened on twice as many screens, true, but even if you double The Beach Bum’s number it still falls short. When not even Zac Efron sporting a haircut inspired by a panini can save your movie, maybe it’s time for a change of strategy.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.