‘Call of the Wild’ Is No Box-Office Dog, Lands on the Heels of ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’

Tom Brueggemann

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Weekend box office dropped post-Presidents Day,  by the margin expected — but with an unexpected combination of results. “Call of the Wild” performed far better than predicted and nearly beat out “Sonic the Hedgehog” in week two. The pre-weekend consensus had the canine classic remake to gross in the teens, with the video game hitting closer to $30 million. Instead, the estimated margin is under $2 million, with “Sonic” ahead at $26.3 million.

Those two family-oriented titles made up about half the business, a big reason the weekend overall fell 20%. Recent openers have been weak to disastrous and while these two films were credible, they didn’t quite fill the void.

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Year-to-date grosses are a little over $1.6 billion, around $180 million better than the same date in  2019. That’s a healthy uptick of about 12%.

The downward trend could continue next weekend with only one new wide release (“Invisible Man” from Universal), but Pixar with “Onward” the following week will lead a March rebound.

The transition of Fox films into the Disney mainstream now blurs the distinction. A family film, with a PG-rating, about animals, and enhanced by CGI sure sounds like a mainstream Disney film. However, this one has a reported budget as high as $135 million. DIsney’s top franchise films can hit $200 million or more, but these are mostly sure-fire worldwide hits with presold audiences.

“Call” had a wide range of projections in the range of $10 million-$20 million. That makes a $25 million showing sound good, but the reality is even a great hold would yield a sub-$100 million domestic total. Forty countries opened to only $15 million. (China had the potential to be a strong date.) Even a $200 million global total looks challenging, and with production and marketing costs, this will be a budget-responsible shortfall.

Its higher business looks in part due to the credibility of Harrison Ford. He isn’t a frequent lead these days, and clearly helped elevate this.

Last week’s blown box office call was “Sonic the Hedgehog,” with its $57 million three-day/$70 million for the full holiday weekend way beyond the most optimistic guess. It actually didn’t have a horrible drop — 55% down from a double event-boosted date is hardly disastrous.

And it provides Paramount with a rare film that topped $100 million in 10 days, with about the same overseas. It has more #1 showings in territories, with the second weekend drop there only 35%. With an estimated $90 million budget, no reason to have much worry about its ultimate positive results.

The other wide opener is yet another horror dud. “Brahms: The Boy II” (STX) is a low risk to its distributor (a sequel to “The Boy,” which grossed $35 million total). This time, it came in with $5.9 million, good enough for #4. Don’t be fooled: a $6 million opener is weak overall. There is little sign this will last long.

Post-holiday usually aggravates drops, though the lack of blockbusters should have helped. The best hold was “Parasite,” down 45%. Falling just slightly more were awards rival “1917” (Universal), now over $150 million, and “Jumanji: The Next Level” (Sony), now $311 million. “Bad Boys for Life,” which might still slide into #4, dropped 49%.

Faring less well was “Birds of Prey.” In its third week it’s off 59%, good enough for number three but at $7 million it’s not close to what D.C. hoped for. Last weekend’s openers — “The Photograph,” “Fantasy Island,” and “Downhill” (Searchlight) were down between 66% and 77%. None started strong, and all will disappear soon after weak or lesser performances.

Not in the top 10 but shining in far fewer theaters were “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” (truTV), which earned a shocking $2.6 million in 357 theaters, and the Lionsgate release of Pantelion Productions’ comedy “Las Pildoras de mi Novio” (“My Boyfriend’s Meds”). That one grossed $1.425 million in 350 targeted theaters.


The Top Ten

1. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$26,300,000 (-55%) in 4,198 theaters (+31); PTA (per theater average): $6,265; Cumulative: $106,602,000

2. Call of the Wild (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore:A-; Metacritic: 47; Est. budget: $130 million

$24,820,000 in 3,752 theaters; PTA: $:6,615; Cumulative: $24,820,000

3. Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$7,005,000 (-59%) in 3,565 theaters (-671); PTA: $1,965; Cumulative: $72,529,000

4. Brahms: The Boy II (STX) NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Metacritic: 30; Est. budget: $10 million

$5,900,000 in 2,151 theaters; PTA: $2,743; Cumulative: $5,900,000

5. Bad Boys for Life (Sony) Week 6; Last weekend #5

$5,860,000 (-49%) in 2,972 theaters (-213); PTA: $1,972; Cumulative: $191,176,000

6. 1917 (Universal) Week 9; Last weekend #6

$4,400,000 (-46%) in 2,725 theaters (-359); PTA: $1,615; Cumulative: $151,987,000

7. Fantasy Island (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$4,185,000 (-66%) in 2,784 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,503; Cumulative: $20,172,000

8. Parasite (Neon) Week 20; Last weekend #7

$3,121,000 (-45%) in 1,805 theaters (-196); PTA: 1,731$; Cumulative: $48,942,000

9. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony) Week 11; Last weekend #8

$3,000,000 (-46%) in 2,126 theaters (-284); PTA: $1,411; Cumulative: $310,964,000

10. The Photograph (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$2,800,000 (-77%) in 2,516 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,113; Cumulative: $17,645,000




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