This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Clint Eastwood, left, in a scene from “The Mule.” (Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Clint Eastwood, left, in a scene from “The Mule.” (Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

‘Spider-Verse’ swings to the top; ‘Mortal Engines’ tanks

“Spider-Verse” has been very well-received among critics, and audiences in exit surveys gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” swung to the top of the domestic box office in its first weekend in theatres, proving that there is widespread audience interest in big screen animated versions of Marvel’s marquee superheroes.

The film led a host of newcomers that debuted to varying success on this pre-Christmas holiday weekend, including Clint Eastwood’s drug smuggling drama “The Mule” and the Peter Jackson-produced epic “Mortal Engines” which bombed in North American theatres.

“Into the Spider-Verse” earned an estimated $35.4 million from 3,813 theatres against a $90 million production budget according to Sony Pictures on Sunday, which is a record for animated movies in December (although the hybrid “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies were higher). The film features an innovative animation style — both CGI and hand-drawn — and focuses on the Miles Morales character as he learns to become the famed web-slinger. It’s another financial win for the studio’s latest “expanded Spider-Man universe” strategy following “Venom” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

And “Spider-Verse” has been very well-received among critics, and audiences in exit surveys gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore — a first for a Spider-Man film. It’s also been nominated for a Golden Globe award for best animated feature and picked up a few honours from critics’ groups as well, including the New York Film Critics Circle.

“We are playing to both families and fanboys. We’re an all-audience film,” said Adrian Smith, Sony’s president of domestic distribution.

They also have an eight-day runway until the big Christmas release start packing the multiplexes.

The Clint Eastwood-directed drug smuggling drama “The Mule” debuted in second place with an estimated $17.2 million. It’s a solid debut for R-rated film that cost $50 million to produce. The Warner Bros. film drew an audience that was mostly older (78 per cent over 35-years-old) and male (54 per cent).

“Clint Eastwood has such a big following as a director and a star,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution.

It’s Eastwood’s first major role in a film since 2012, and the studio is optimistic about the film’s longevity into the holiday.

Read more: Dick Cheney biopic ‘Vice’ tops Golden Globes nominations

Read more: Kevin Hart steps down as Oscars host after outcry over old tweets

Not all the new films were so lucky, however. Coming in fifth behind holdovers “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” was the Peter Jackson-produced epic “Mortal Engines,” which bombed in North American theatres, taking in only $7.5 million in ticket sales against a reported $100 million production budget. MRC and Universal Pictures produced the post-apocalyptic steampunk film based on the popular Philip Reeve book, which is the first of four in a series.

Neither critics nor audiences responded favourably to the Christian Rivers-directed film, however, which has a deathly 28 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

This weekend also saw the release of the PG-13 rated version of “Deadpool 2,” ”Once Upon A Deadpool,” in 1,566 locations. It earned an estimated $2.6 million, which is being added to “Deadpool 2’s” box office totals.

In limited release, Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” opened in four theatres to a very strong $219,173. Jenkins’ follow-up to “Moonlight” is expected to be a big player throughout awards season and expands nationwide in the coming weeks.

Historically, this mid-December, pre-Christmas weekend has not been a big one for movie openings, save for the exception of last year when “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened to $220 million, which is why the weekend overall is down some 61 per cent from last year and why the year-to-date advantage has fallen slightly to 8.5 per cent.

But the industry is still on track for a record year at the box office and has several late-game blockbusters on the way including “Aquaman,” ”Bumblebee” and “Mary Poppins Returns.”

“Aquaman” doesn’t hit North American theatres until Friday but the big budget DC superhero movie is already a blockbuster internationally. In its second weekend in theatres abroad, the film has already earned $261.3 million.

“It’s the happiest time of the year for Hollywood. This is when you get that big burst at the end, a lot of people catching up on movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “It’s about momentum and this momentum should carry into next year.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. ”Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” $35.4 million ($21 million international).
  2. ”The Mule,” $17.2 million.
  3. ”Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” $11.6 million ($23.3 million international).
  4. ”Ralph Breaks the Internet,” $9.6 million ($7.9 million international).
  5. ”Mortal Engines,” $7.5 million ($11.5 million international).
  6. ”Creed II,” $5.4 million ($2.3 million international).
  7. ”Bohemian Rhapsody,” $4.1 million ($20 million international).
  8. ”Instant Family,” $3.7 million ($738,000 international).
  9. ”Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $3.7 million ($11.8 million international).
  10. ”Green Book,” $2.8 million.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theatres (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

  1. “Aquaman,” $126.4 million.
  2. “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” $23.3 million.
  3. “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” $21 million.
  4. “Mortal Engines,” $20 million.
  5. “My Neighbour Totoro,” $13 million.
  6. “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $11.8 million.
  7. “Mortal Engines,” $11.5 million.
  8. “Dragon Ball Z Super: Broly,” $8.7 million.
  9. “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” $7.9 million.
  10. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $4.8 million.

—-

Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read