Box Office: ‘1917’ Tops ‘Interstellar’ As ‘Ford V Ferrari’ Bombs In China

George MacKay in Sam Mendes’ ‘1917’
Universal and DreamWorks
As China awaits the one-two punch of Mulan and Tenet, we’re seeing more delayed late-2019/early 2020 releases arriving in theaters. This weekend’s two biggies are Universal and DreamWorks’ 1917 and 20th Century’s Ford v Ferrari. The Sam Mendes World War I thriller was the top movie on Friday with $1.74 million while the James Mangold 1960’s race car melodrama stumbled with just $321,000. In holdover news, Interstellar earned $887,000 pushing the rerelease total past $10 million and the overall China cume (it earned $122 million in 2014/2015) to $133 million.
All told, the $165 million Chris Nolan sci-fi adventure has now earned $688 million worldwide. We’ll see if it has enough staying power to push past the $700 million mark. There hasn’t been an original live-action flick grossing over $700 million since Gravity in 2013, so this will be an amusing, if obviously skewed, milestone if that happens. Tenet is scheduled for September 4, a day after it opens in limited release in U.S. theaters, with Inception allegedly getting its big reissue the week prior.
Since there may be ebbs and flows in terms of new Hollywood (and Chinese) movies opening in China, we can expect that these high-profile rereleases will be spaced out over the next several months. So those of us hankering for an Avatar vs. Avengers: Endgame rematch may be waiting a little while longer. Speaking of Robert Downey Jr., Dolittle has now earned $14.5 million in China. That pushes the Universal release’s global cume to $240 million. It’s still the year’s third-biggest earner behind Sonic the Hedgehog ($309 million) and Bad Boys For Life ($419 million).
It doesn’t make the $175 million talking animal fantasy into a hit, but it’s encouraging considering that the film was tracking for around $15 million in China way back in January. Ford v Ferrari is a disappointment, especially as the Matt Damon/Christian Bale flick didn’t exactly burn up the overseas box office. It raced past $115 million in North America but earned just $225 million on a $95 million budget. It earned strong reviews and obviously played well in North America (while winning two tech Oscars), but it wasn’t necessarily a hit for Disney
/20th Century Pictures.
However, anything 1917 earns in China is pure gravy. The (also) Oscar-winning thriller, about two infantrymen racing across enemy lines to deliver life-saving intelligence, earned $159 million domestic and $374 million worldwide on a $90 million budget. It was one of the biggest-grossing war movies ever made behind Wonder Woman ($821 million), Saving Private Ryan ($482 million), Pearl Harbor ($449 million), Dunkirk ($527 million) and American Sniper ($547 million). No, that doesn’t sound sword-n-sandal war flicks, all due respect to Troy ($497 million), The Last Samurai ($457 million) and the various Peter Jackson/Middle Earth flicks.

Sony’s releases of Bad Boys For Life (August 14) and Little Women (August 25) are gravy too, as the former earned $419 million on a $90 million budget while the former earned $209 million on a $42 million budget. Sure, we’d love to see the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence flick zoom past $500 million worldwide, if only to give us one bloody $500 million-plus grosser before everything comes down to Mulan and Tenet, especially as those films may have little-to-no domestic grosses. Of course, there’s always The Rescue and The Eight-Hundred, but that’s for another day.
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