True, Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is responsible for driving 79% of the weekend’s overall business with a $220M opening. However, Fox’s product is solid in the shadow of Last Jedi. Their Blue Studios animated film Ferdinand made $13.3M, a good start that will only swell during the holidays (their Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip generated a 6x multiple off a $14.2M opening versus Force Awakens’ near $248M opening). Before Fox’s Murder on the Orient Express opened (the movie also stars Last Jedi‘s Daisy Ridley), the film on paper appeared to be a challenge with its period setting. That’s hardly the case with Murder set to cross $100M a month later, fueled largely by an over-50 audience. On top of this, Fox Searchlight’s awards contenders are coming in ahead from where we saw them on Saturday with The Shape of Water earning $1.7M this weekend and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri making $1.6M. Disney also has Pixar’s Coco in third place drawing $10M and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok in 7th place with close to $3M. 20th Century Fox is also opening the period Hugh Jackman musical about P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman on Wednesday. So not only is a Disney-Fox combination event driven in the current weekend, but appealing to a diversity of demos as well.
Where does this leave the competition? They don’t have any wide releases this weekend; Sony kicks off the Christmas flood on Wednesday with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. However, the highest grossing non-Disney/Fox movie this weekend belongs to Lionsgate’s Wonder which is generating $5.4M in fourth place in its 5th weekend. We’ll have a better idea in the weekends ahead how much air the competition can inhale.
While the DOJ works on approving the Disney-Fox deal, both labels will operate separately with business as usual. Next year, both studios together count 26 titles across Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Disney animation, Blue Studios, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000 and Fox Searchlight. Whether they maintain this consistent outflow in the years to come, and how they counterprogram their labels is the big question. Nonetheless, box office dominance is a guarantee.