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‘1917’ dethrones ‘Rise of Skywalker’ at the box office with an impressive $36.5 million weekend (CMCSA)

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"1917" won the domestic box office this weekend with an estimated $36.5 million take.The World War I drama dethroned "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which had been number one for the last three weeks.Interest in "1917" increased after the movie had a surprise best drama win at the Golden Globes last weekend.Visit Business Insider's…
‘1917’ dethrones ‘Rise of Skywalker’ at the box office with an impressive $36.5 million weekend (CMCSA)
  • “1917” won the domestic box office this weekend with an estimated $36.5 million take.
  • The World War I drama dethroned “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which had been number one for the last three weeks.
  • Interest in “1917” increased after the movie had a surprise best drama win at the Golden Globes last weekend.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

We like to make fun of the Golden Globes. With awards given out by a voting body of around 90 people, it’s easy to take shots when it comes to its relevancy during award season. But one thing we can’t dispute is the award show can be a huge marketing tool, and that was evident this weekend with “1917.”

Universal’s World War I drama from director Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”), that is told in stle that resembles the look of having continuous shot (in reality there were multiple shots), won the Globes’ top prize, best motion picture — drama, last Sunday and that catapulted it to must-see-status this weekend.

The result: “1917” dethroned “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” from the number one spot at the domestic box office with its estimated $36.5 million take.

Mendes’ movie had been in limited release since Christmas (to date, “1917” has brought in $60.39 million, worldwide), building awareness as well as award season buzz, but this weekend was its coming out party. Clearly moviegoers wanted to catch a glimpse of the movie that beat out the likes of “The Irishman” and “Joker” at the Golden Globes (Mendes also won the best director Globe). They also wanted to see for themselves how in the world Mendes and the movie’s cinematographer, Roger Deakins, pulled off the one-shot look of the movie

We’ll find out Monday morning how “1917” will be received by Academy voters, as Oscar nominations are announced then. But for now, you have to tip your hat to Universal for how it has released its latest original title.  

That’s the other element of this box office win. Universal has cracked the code when it comes to getting top dollar out of its non IP/sequel titles. In 2019 it did better than any other studio by having three original titles top the box office their opening weekends (“Us,” “Good Boys,” and “Abominable”), and it’s continuing that in the new year.

There are only so many weekend slots on the calendar that are not gobbled up by big tentpole titles, but recently Universal has been the king of finding those spots where its original titles can shine. And in the case of “1917,” with its big Golden Globes night, that just amplified things. Its $36.5 million take tops its early projections of $20 million to $25 million, and updated projection of $32 million.    

Disney’s “Rise of Skywalker” came in second place with $15.1 million. The movie’s global cume to date is just under $1 billion, $989.6 million. But Disney also had to deal with a dud this weekend, too, with its release of Fox’s “Underwater.” The thriller starring Kristen Stewart only took in $7 million on over 2,700 screens.

Just Mercy Warner Bros

“Just Mercy.”
Warner Bros.


Box-office highlights:

  • Warner Bros.’ “Just Mercy,” starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, had an impressive first weekend in wide release taking in $10 million.
  • While $10 million is a soft opening for Paramount’s R-rated comedy “Like A Boss” (budgeted at $29 million).

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