BOX OFFICE: “Spiderverse” to top $35, “Mule” might hit $18, “Mortal Engines” sputter and die

boxTook the girlfriend to a nearly sold-out small town Florida showing of “The Mule” Friday night.

Warner Brothers didn’t put a lot of promotional money behind Clint Eastwood’s 40th film as a director. It wasn’t previewed in most of America. Perhaps they think his audience has aged out of going, unless the film becomes a Red State phenomenon — “American Sniper,” for example.

But the old guy’s still a draw — older, all white audience I saw it with. And they were tickled with the film, about a 90 year old drug mule who made his living, for decades, growing day lilies.

The film is performing a bit better than expectations. Some had it opening at $11 million, but projections went as high as $17. is saying, based on Friday’s take, that it’ll manage $17.8 or more for its opening weekend.

That’s about half of what the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” is taking in. Deadline is calling this a $35 million opening weekend hit. Projections had been pushing this one well over $40 million, and unless they count last weekend’s $1.9 million as part of its opening weekend (not sure they do that), this won’t come close to that.

$35 million is what the animated “Sing!” opened at a couple of Decembers back. So.

The BIG story has to be Peter Jackson’s farmed-out production of “Mortal Engines.” He produced and co-wrote the script for this steampunk sci-fi based on the Phillip Reeve YA novel. It cost a fortune, and you can see that money up on the screen.

But nobody is going. It was projected to bomb, but nobody thought it wouldn’t clear $10. It might not top $8 million. A $100 million budget disaster.

“Once Upon a Deadpool” isn’t making any real money, either — $3-4 million, tops. Won’t cover the cost of Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage and that “Princess Bride” set, much less the re-edit.

“The Grinch” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” are still performing — with “Grinch” hauling in another $12 million. Kids cartoons are still smart money in Hollywood.

“Creed II” will clear $5 million, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has closed the gap with “A Star is Born” domestically — over $180 million by midnight Sunday — and has owned the overseas box office this holiday season. Everybody loves Queen.


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