TV & Movies

Roland Emmerich's 'Midway' shoots to top of box office with $17.5 million

The box office got a huge refresh during Veteran’s Day weekend, with nearly every title in the top five a new release. However, the sluggish returns in spite of a slate of new content didn’t bode well for 2019 box office health.

Appropriately for the holiday weekend, Roland Emmerich‘s epic World War II film Midway took the number one spot with estimated earnings totaling $17.5 million. But with a budget around $100 million, this is not a big win for the German-born director. The story was much the same for the new releases in the second and third place slots.

Midway spooked the Ewan McGregor-led Doctor Sleep—the follow-up to The Shining that apparently nobody wanted—into second place with $14.1 million. With a budget reported around $14 million, this is also a disappointment for Warner Bros.

John Cena‘s Playing With Fire that sees firefighters turn into babysitters takes the third place slot with an estimated $12.8 million, followed by the romantic dramedy Last Christmas which earned an estimated $11.6 million this holiday weekend.

Emmerich’s newest title tells the real life events around the Battle of Midway that took place from June 4 to 7, 1942—six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. It follows the lives of military pilots and soldiers who helped the United States beat the Imperial Japanese Navy, changing the course of history.

Woody Harrelson stars as Chester Nimitz, a fleet admiral in the U.S. Navy who led forces to victory during the most critical period of the war in the Pacific. Patrick Wilson brings to life Edwin T. Layton, an intelligence officer who helped convince Nimitz that Midway was Japan’s next target with the help of intelligence information.

Luke Evans and Ed Skrein portray squadron commanders Wade McClusky and Dick Best, who are credited with leading plane squadrons that destroyed Japanese carriers.

Rounding out the star-studded cast are Aaron Eckhart, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, and Alexander Ludwig.

It’s worth noting that no studio was willing to give Emmerich the enormous budget he was seeking to make this passion project. He raised $24 million in equity from Chinese investors along with $76 million from independent investors, totaling $100 million for the budget. The Hollywood Reporter says Midway has been billed as “one of the most expensive indie films ever made.”

Investors will no doubt keep their eyes locked on the international box office in hopes it can help them at least break even, which is something Emmerich consistently manages to do. His biggest domestic box office win to date is with 1997’s Independence Day, which grossed $306 million domestically, and $817 million internationally.

Doctor Sleep is a massive financial disappointment. With a $14.1 million opening, it clocked in over $10 million below its $25 million expectations. The horror title takes place nearly four decades after the events from The Shining. This is especially notable during a time where seemingly everything based in the Stephen King universe inspires pandemonium from his dedicated fan base.

The R-rated film follows a now adult Dan Torrance (McGregor), who meets a young girl with similar powers as him. He seeks to protect her from a cult hoping to cultivate said power in exchange for immortality.

EW gave the film a dismal C+ rating calling it “a mess.”  Adding, “It’s way too long, clashing somber sobriety with loony cheap thrills. The Shining homages turn shameless and cheap. The jump-scares are more funny than scary. Dan is a problem. McGregor used to be such a live-wire performer, but he’s frozen stolid here. It’s admirable to explore how family alcoholism and a childhood history of abuse can still affect a man forty years past his murderdad. But the language of pop therapy can make for deadly dialogue.”

Although King himself wasn’t a fan of the big screen adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, it was the latter’s imagery that inspired Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan. Fans might not have turned out in droves to see this film, at least Flanagan can go to sleep knowing King enjoyed his film. Fans don’t agree, however—it earned a tepid B+ from Cinemascore viewers.

John Cena knows how to win WWE title matches and the box office, but his comedy Playing With Fire only landed in third place this weekend. Cena portrays fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena), who alongside his team of expert firefighters (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane) helps rescue three siblings (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery and Finley Rose Slater) who are in the path of a wildfire that’s coming towards them.

Although the reviews for the PG-rated film are predominantly lackluster, Cinemascore says moviegoers saw it a bit more favorably, granting it a mediocre B+.

The romantic dramedy Last Christmas played with everyone’s hearts and minds, but it still became the fourth most watched film of the weekend. Despite the star power involved, fans weren’t biting on the George Michael inspired drama with a massive twist many saw coming since the trailer dropped.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke stars as Kate, a young woman who works as an elf at a year long Christmas shop in London who has made more bad decisions in her life than she has bells on her shoes. She meets Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding‘s character Tom in the Paul Feig directed film, and her life promises to never be the same.

The film, loosely inspired by the George Michael hit of the same name, co-stars Emma Thompson (who also co-wrote the screenplay), Michelle Yeoh, Patti LuPone, Rob Delaney, and Peter Serafinowitcz. Reviews of the film have not been favorable, with EW calling it a “ridiculous holiday trifle” and branding it with a C+. Audiences agreed, giving it a terrible B- Cinemascore.

Rounding out the top five is last week’s box office winner, Terminator: Dark Fate with an estimated $10.8 million in ticket sales.

Overall, box office is down 5.2 percent year-to-date for the second week in a row, according to Comscore. Check out the Nov. 8-10 numbers below:

Related content:

  • Henry Golding opens up about that huge Last Christmas twist
  • Emilia Clarke is frustrated people are spoiling Last Christmas
  • Midway trailer puts Nick Jonas and Ed Skrein in WWII naval battle
  • What movies to watch from Nov. 8 to 10

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