Grinch Box Office Win

How “The Grinch” Stole the Box Office


November 9-11, 2018

(estimates from


The Grinch $66.0 million
Bohemian Rhapsody  $30.8 million
Overlord $10.1 million
The Nutcracker and
the Four Realms
$9.5 million
The Girl in the
Spider's Web
$8.0 million

So my question of whether kids today cared about the Grinch was ultimately irrelevant. It was another family-friendly animated offering from Illumination, and kids will eat that up no matter what. The estimated $66 million opening is right in line with a holiday film of this size. It's not quite as big an opening as Frozen five years ago, but still enough to keep the little ones satisfied until Thanksgiving break. (It's also a win for Illumination, whose titles cost considerably less than Disney or DreamWorks.)

Bohemian Rhapsody held strongly – another trend on music-focused films this year – sliding less than 40 percent for an excellent second weekend. It's now the 24th film of 2018 to cross $100 million. Overlord had a slightly better opening of the two violent R-rated thrillers. But they were both fighting for scraps, so it's not that big a victory. The WWII-set horror movie opened with just $10.1 million. It won't last long in a crowded November, but should be a hit on home video and streaming.

Audiences continued to give the cold shoulder to Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The $120 million spectacle dropped 53 percent, meaning it won't even make half its budget by the time it's done. That's enough to call it one of the year's biggest flops. It will have some company with The Girl in the Spider's Web. I continue to be amazed by how much this series has underachieved. The original trilogy of films starring Noomi Rapace did well internationally, but modestly here. The David Fincher version starring Rooney Mara did just $200 million worldwide, which is kind of shocking considering how popular those books were. And now we have a new version starring Claire Foy. These are all capable actresses in films by interesting directors but are a clear example of diminishing returns. This latest film had a smaller budget but still couldn't capture an audience. $8 million is the worst opening of Fede Alvarez's career, and the film will finish with less than Don't Breathe or Evil Dead made in their opening weekends. That should close the book on any future adaptations.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: The Front Runner, Jason Reitman's Gary Hart biopic. The film opened in four theaters on Election Day. This weekend it averaged a very modest $14,000 on each screen.
  • A Star Is Born may end up being the fifth-place movie when all is said and done. Only $5,000 separate it from The Girl in the Spider's Web. It will end up in the top 10 of the year by Thanksgiving.
  • Venom became the ninth movie of 2018 to cross $200 million. It now looks like it's on pace to pass Solo, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and possibly even Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

Next week:

The holiday season really begins, as your never-ending tour of the Wizarding World continues. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a modest blockbuster in 2016. It made more than $230 million domestically, good enough for 12th place. But it was a monster internationally, so Warner Bros. will continue to churn them out, even if they don't hold a candle to any of the Harry Potter films. The Crimes of Grindelwald has gotten worse reviews and somewhat muted enthusiasm. So I'm predicting an opening closer to $60 million, down from its predecessor's $74 million. The Grinch will fall to second with $40 million. Then, Widows will open in third with $25 million, while Bohemian Rhapsody will drop to fourth, still higher than newcomer Instant Family.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.