This is one of those weekend’s where you can see the effects of both the covid backlog and the strikes merging together to give us a relatively quiet weekend. We are in the second week of December and the biggest new release on the schedule is Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron. Granted, Miyazaki has earned his reputation as one of the best ever in the animation game with such classics as Castle In The Sky, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and The Wind Rises (with Spirited Away landing the legendary filmmaker an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature).
With The Boy and the Heron taking over premium screens this weekend, it is possible that studios decided to back off to ensure their own large scale releases have access to those screens. It does appear that there is excitement in the air for this first release from Miyazaki in 10 years, especially after he said back then that he was retiring, something he seems to do after every film he makes!
The good news is that as of right now, The Boy and the Heron is tracking to do in its opening weekend more than most of Miyazaki’s other films have made in their entire domestic runs with the film currently tracking in the $10 million range while his other films have generally topped out their entire domestic runs under $7 million (only Spirited Away and Ponyo have garnered double digits of just over $15 million each). So, I am actually going to go a bit bold this week and say that this Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale, Mark Hamill, Florence Pugh, Willem Dafoe, Dave Bautista and Gemma Chan voiced film (if you see the dubbed version. Which, due respect to those talented performers, you should never see a dubbed version of anything! See the original Japanese language film with subtitles) will get to the $15 million mark in its domestic opening. Why such a bold prediction: the film is receiving a wide release in over 2000 theaters, which appears to be the largest domestic release of any Miyazaki film, the fandom for Miyazaki has only grown in the ten years since his last film, the competition isn’t that heavy and my biggest factor is last August we saw Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero open to over $20 million in similar conditions. All of those factors lead me to believe The Boy and the Heron will over-perform and become Hayao Miyazaki’s best performing film yet (at the domestic box office that is. Its got some work to do if it wants to top the $357.2 million worldwide total made by Spirited Away.) You can check out Steve Seigh’s 9/10 review here.
The only thing standing in the way of The Boy and the Heron finishing in first place this weekend is the second weekend release of Renaissance: A FIlm by Beyoncé which saw a healthy $21.8 million opening weekend. This hybrid concert film/ documentary is following the same release pattern as Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour where it is only in theaters on the weekends which helps build up demand. Although that film finished with a domestic concert film record of $178.9 million, it had a pretty significant drop in its sophomore frame of 64.2%. Granted, that drop came after a blockbuster opening of $92.8 million. So the question is: will Beyoncé be as front loaded? My guess is it won’t drop as hard as that film, losing a little over 50% of its audience and finishing the weekend in the $10 million range. Which means if my prediction for The Boy and the Heron was a bit too bold, we could see Beyoncé top the charts for a second week in a row. Of course, there is always the chance that everyone who wanted to see Renaissance, saw it last week and its second week could sink like the Submarine at the beginning of Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One. In which case Beyoncé moves down to the third spot with around $6 million.
If Beyoncé sinks, we could see The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes take the second spot with another small week to week drop and a weekend in the $9-$9.5 million range. I’m not quite sure what happened, but between the first week and second week of this films release, people got excited for it. I guess word of mouth can really make or break a film. That first week saw the film come in under nearly everyone’s predictions but when Thanksgiving weekend hit and the film rose like a phoenix, the franchise was given new life that seems to have held in the weeks after.
Last week also saw the Domestic release of Godzilla Minus One which saw a healthy debut of $11.4 million. With the addition of its weekday numbers, Godzilla Minus One has now become the highest grossing live-action Japanese film ever at the North American box office with just over $14 million. Great word of mouth should propel this one to a decent second week hold, however the loss of premium screens could be a big hindrance to this one, especially when you consider that this film is the highest grossing Imax release ever in Japan. I think it has the potential to land in the top five still with around $5 million in receipts.
With this weekend being so void of big new releases, I am a bit shocked that the studio decided make their newly remastered re-release of James Cameron’s original water based tale The Abyss a one day endeavor. The film, which is the full James Cameron 171 minute director’s cut, was released back to theaters on Wednesday, December 6 for just a single screening (if you missed it, you can buy the digital version on December 12 before it receives the full Collectors Edition treatment when it hits 4K disc on March 12, 2024). Luckily, I went to theaters to see this one last night, after not seeing the movie in pry 20 years, and it was exactly as Cameron said: it was like seeing the movie for the first time. What I really took from the screening was just how much this movie seemed to influence other films such as Mission to Mars, Independence Day and even one of my personal favorites: Interstellar.
The theater was nearly sold out, which tells me that the studio probably left some money on the table by not making this a full on re-release. I guess the fact that the film probably wouldn’t have maintained the premium screens needed to get the full experience was a factor in making it a one day only release (I saw it in one of AMC’s Dolby screens).
The remainder of the top ten should be your holdover titles as we wait for next weeks already critically acclaimed release of Wonka to really kickstart the holiday movie season.
Will you be heading to theaters this weekend? If so, let us know what you plan on seeing in the comments and don’t forget to check back with us on Saturday when we have a brief update on where the box office numbers are heading.
TOP FIVE PREDICTIONS
- The Boy and the Heron– $15 Million
- Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé– $10 Million
- The Hunger Games; The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes– $9 Million
- Trolls Band Together– $6 Million
- Godzilla Minus One– $5 Million