After debuting as a “limited release” the week prior, the pseudo-poker film Molly’s Game went on full release last week. While those numbers were decent, there were a couple of signs of problems and the “second week curse” that usually hits films after their initial release.
First, the good news. The film, with a screenplay adapted by noted screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (who was also taking his first shot in the director’s chair), opened last week to another 1337 theaters beyond its initial 271 “limited release” locations right before Christmas. Bringing the total number of theaters to 1608 across the U. S., those locations brought in $6.8 million for its first full week in release to bring the total revenues of Molly’s Game to $14,073,138. That broke down to roughly $4264 per screen, a very respectable number for a film in its first week out.
Now for the less than encouraging news. The big winner for the week – and in its third week in the theaters – was the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson/Kevin Hart video game/action flick Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The film (ever so loosely based on the original film that starred the late Robin Williams) took in $37.2 million to bring its three-week total to $245.6 million, by far the big winner of the holiday season. It was followed by a new debut, Insidious: The Last Key, which took in $29.5 million in its first week (and averaged $9,493 over its 3116 screens). Taking the bronze for the week was the latest in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which took in $23.7 million for a four week take of $572.6 million.
Looking at those numbers, it does put a bit of a downer on the Molly’s Game thunder. What is worse is that there were two other films in their third week of release – Hugh Jackman’s musical The Greatest Showman and Anna Kendrick’s finale with Pitch Perfect 3 – that were in fourth and fifth for the week, respectively, with $13.7 million and $10.2 million in earnings. And to add a bit of a coup de grace, a film in its FOURTH week, the children’s film Ferdinand featuring the voice of World Wrestling Entertainment legend John Cena in the titular role, eclipsed Molly’s Game for the sixth-place slot on the list.
Because of the nature of the movie business, it is highly likely that Molly’s Game won’t even be in the Top Ten for this weekend’s box office. Normally a film will see a massive fall off in its take in its second, third or even fourth week of release. After going to full release last week, it is highly likely that the film with hit that second week doldrum that most films usually face.
There is also a very crowded market coming out this weekend. Along with Jumanji, Insidious, and Star Wars, there will be several newcomers that should take up people’s eyeballs. The new Liam Neeson thriller The Commuter, Taraji P. Henson’s badass mom/hit woman offering Proud Mary, and the children-targeted Paddington 2 will all try to knock off the Top Three. Toss in the Oscar-buzzed The Post starring American acting legends Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep going into full release (at over 3000 theaters) and the road looks tough for Molly’s Game to stay in the Top Ten.
Still, the reactions for Molly’s Game haven’t been awful. Reviewers have been glowing about the performances of Jessica Chastain in the lead role and Idris Elba as her attorney. Furthermore, Rotten Tomatoes (one of the biggest critics of films) has given the film an 81% favorable rating from 189 reviews. Sorkin is receiving his usual kudos for adapting a book into a riveting screenplay and all three have been nominated for awards for their work. If one of them were to win an award for their work on the film, it certainly would help draw more “butts to seats” if it stays in the theater.
If you haven’t had the chance to catch Molly’s Game yet, this might be the last weekend to do so. It should then make a quick transition to OnDemand (which is where I plan to catch the film) and, if the talk of the poker world is consistent, many others will partake of the offering there.