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Midway beats Doctor Sleep to top US box office


Story by Jack Foley

ROLAND Emmerich’s World War II epic Midway created something of a box office upset in the US over the Veterans Day weekend, claiming a surprise top spot with a better-than-expected $17.5 million.

The figure was enough to beat horror-thriller Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, which had been expected to easily win the weekend with $25 million or more. Instead, the Stephen King adaptation – starring Ewan McGregor – debuted to a rather sleepy $14.1 million.

Midway‘s victory was also tempered by the fact that the film still cost an estimated $100 million budget, which means it will have to go some way to recoup its budget. Although, fortunately, distributor Lionsgate did organise a deal that will leave the studio in the black.

Midway, chronicling the famous battle in the Pacific between American and Japanese forces, is billed as one of the most expensive indie projects ever made. It stars stars Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas.

Lionsgate is hoping the film will benefit from the same kind of word of mouth that Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge enjoyed on its way to grossing $175.2 million globally. Its release was timed to coincide with Veteran’s Day.

In contrast, Warner Bros was hoping that its Shining sequel would tap into the current positive trend for horror titles. But its selection of a post-Halloween release date, plus middling reviews and a 151 minute running time could have been too big an ask, particularly as big a sizeable portion of frequent movie-goers aren’t well-versed in The Shining mythology.

In a second weekend upset, Paramount’s family friendly Playing With Fire beat Universal’s early holiday rom-com Last Christmas, starring Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke.

Playing With Fire stars John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane as a group of firefighters who face their most challenging job yet: babysitting. It grossed $12.8 million, well ahead of pre-release tracking.

Last Christmas, meanwhile, debuted on the low end of expectations with $11.6 million. The Universal title, directed by Paul Feig from a script by Emma Thompson, cost a modest $30 million to produce and was inspired by the famous George Michael and Wham! song.

Elsewhere, Terminator: Dark Fate rounded out the top five and fell a steep 63% in its second weekend for $10.8 million in the US, confirming its lifeless status. The film earned another $29.9 million internationally, for a foreign total of $150.9 million. But its global haul is only $199.4 million, meaning that the big-budget title will now easily lose $120 million or more for partners Skydance, Paramount, Fox/Disney and Tencent.

In other box office news, Joker came sixth with $9.2 million to edge closer to the coveted $1 billion mark globally. Its worldwide tally through Sunday stood at $984.7 million.

And Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil crossed the $400 million mark globally and earned $8 million States-side over the weekend for a US total of $97.3 million.

The sequel has been largely powered by the foreign box office, where it has earned $333 million to date for a worldwide total of $430.5 million through Sunday.