Night School Wins Box Office Crown

“Night School” Earns High Marks at the Box Office


September 28-30, 2018

(estimates from


Night School $28.0 million
Smallfoot $23.0 million
The House with a 
Clock in Its Walls 
$12.5 million
A Simple Favor $6.6 million
The Nun $5.4 million

The teaming of comic superstars Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish proved irresistible to audiences. The duo combined their powers for a sizable $28 million opening for Night School. That's Hart's sixth straight live-action No. 1 debut, all of which have debuted with $20 million or more. Haddish's star is on the rise, and this is one of three movies this fall in which she plays the lead. (The Oath opens next month and Tyler Perry's Nobody's Fool the month after.)

Smallfoot opened in second place with $23 million. That's on the more modest end of animated films, closer to Ferdinand or Storks than the output of Pixar or Illumination. Not even an unexpected meme could get it to that top spot. Still, don't be surprised if it creeps into the Best Animated Feature discussion at the Oscars. The House with the Clock in Its Walls slipped to third, but it's already outgrossed its budget.

A Simple Favor held strong again, despite falling to No. 4. Sometimes it's the smaller films that are the bigger successes, even if the numbers aren't impressive at first glance. The Nun dropped to No. 5, adding to a monumental $100 million-plus haul. It's now surpassed The Equalizer 2, A Wrinkle in Time and Fifty Shades Freed.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: Free Solo, a breathtaking documentary from National Geographic. The film, which documents a death-defying climb up Yosemite National Park's El Capitan, earned a whopping $75,201 on its four screens.
  • Hell Fest couldn't scare up a big audience. It only managed $5 million for sixth place. Still, it only cost slightly more than that, so it's still a "success."
  • Robert Redford's final film is off to a decent start. Playing on only five screens, The Old Man & the Gun averaged $30,000 on each one. But it will need word-of-mouth to get a steal.

Next week:

October begins, and with it, a ton of movies I'm dying to see. Next week will see a movie we've been making a bunch of jokes about take on a movie we started making a bunch of jokes about until it got incredible reviews. Venom, an inexplicably PG-13 take on Spider-Man's symbiotic nemesis, will face off against Bradley Cooper's remake of A Star Is Born. I'm predicting the comic book movie has the much bigger opening, with around $40 million, while A Star Is Born makes just $25 million, but ends up having the higher final gross.


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.