Friday Box Office: ‘Addams Family’ Tops Will Smith’s ‘Gemini Man’ As ‘Jexi’ Bombs And ‘Parasite’ Latches On

'The Addams Family'

'The Addams Family'

MGM and United Artist Releasing

On paper, The Addams Family seems like the kind of movie that doesn’t work in 2019. It’s an animated film with poor reviews based around an IP that once was popular a generation ago partially because movies based on old TV shows or cult comics were still somewhat unique at the time. And yet, MGM and United Artist Releasing’s The Addams Family is a smash. The (not half-bad) toon earned $9.7 million on Friday, setting the stage for a $32 million opening weekend. That would be bigger, sans inflation, than the $24 million debut of The Addams Family ($51 million adjusted) back in 1991. It sold more tickets over opening weekend than Addams Family Values ($14 million in 1993/$30 million adjusted) back in 1993.

Presuming that there isn’t some hidden variable I missed, this is a solid case of an IP that still had life in it, released at just the right time (it’s a Halloween treat for kids just before Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), with multi-generational nostalgia and plenty of marketing and tie-ins behind it. It also helps that, sans a direct-to-VHS movie that few of us saw and a kid-targeted animated show that never really took off, the property has been mostly on ice for 25 years. Yes, I’m aware of the Broadway show too, which originally starred Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth back in 2009, but all of these factors explain how you get a hit movie in 2009 (remember G-Force?), not 2019.

All of this is to say that MGM and friends deserve a huge tip of the hat for this one. They needed a domestic smash and they got one, even if the $24 million toon doesn’t leg out after Sunday. It was a still-potent brand, with a solid cast (Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Elsie Fisher and Snoop Dogg), kid-friendly trailers and a smart release date. Yes, it’s a triumph of brand and IP over originality and/or star power, but you take the wins where you can get them. The Addams Family, which went over just fine with my eight-year-old, my four-year-old and their five-year-old cousin, is a win.

Alas, originality and star power stumbled. Gemini Man, an ambitious, $138 million actioner starring Will Smith as a retiring assassin forced to do battle with a clone of his younger self, earned just $7.48 million yesterday. That positions the film for a $20 million launch, which is a big whiff even with the hope that it’ll play better overseas. Credit the poor reviews and the relatively “What you see is what you get” concept. It probably didn’t help that so much of the chatter was about the high-frame rate, which either turned folks off or dissuaded moviegoers who didn’t live near a multiplex showing it as such from bothering. After all, if you can’t see The Walk in IMAX, why bother?

The Paramount/Skydance production, which opens in China next weekend (Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk earned $30 million there three years ago), was always going to be an overseas play. But, save for a few exceptions, you really have to score in North America as well if you want to be a genuine global hit. Besides, the exceptions, think xXx: Return of Xander Cage or Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, were cheap enough to not need to break records to break out. Moreover, China is filled with big local product at the moment, to the point where even DreamWorks and Pearl Studio’s Abominable is struggling to break out. Fingers crossed, but let’s hope Smith already deposited that $20 million check for King Richard.

Lionsgate’s Jexi was dumped into theaters and was mostly ignored. The poorly-reviewed comedy, about a guy whose Siri-like smartphone assistant tries to improve and then take over his life, earned just $1.14 million on Friday for a likely $3.12 million debut weekend. In better news, Neon’s Parasite lived up to the hype. Bong Joon Ho’s critically-adored (it rocks) thriller earned $120,000 on Friday in just four theaters, setting the stage for a $348,000 weekend and $116,290 per-theater average. It’ll be the top per-screen debut of the year and the 12th-biggest average ever for a live-action debut. Plenty of movies (Steve Jobs, The Master, Tree of Life) have posted scorching per-theater debuts only to flat line in regular release, but we can be optimistic for now.

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On paper, The Addams Family seems like the kind of movie that doesn’t work in 2019. It’s an animated film with poor reviews based around an IP that once was popular a generation ago partially because movies based on old TV shows or cult comics were still somewhat unique at the time. And yet, MGM and United Artist Releasing’s The Addams Family is a smash. The (not half-bad) toon earned $9.7 million on Friday, setting the stage for a $32 million opening weekend. That would be bigger, sans inflation, than the $24 million debut of The Addams Family ($51 million adjusted) back in 1991. It sold more tickets over opening weekend than Addams Family Values ($14 million in 1993/$30 million adjusted) back in 1993.

Presuming that there isn’t some hidden variable I missed, this is a solid case of an IP that still had life in it, released at just the right time (it’s a Halloween treat for kids just before Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), with multi-generational nostalgia and plenty of marketing and tie-ins behind it. It also helps that, sans a direct-to-VHS movie that few of us saw and a kid-targeted animated show that never really took off, the property has been mostly on ice for 25 years. Yes, I’m aware of the Broadway show too, which originally starred Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth back in 2009, but all of these factors explain how you get a hit movie in 2009 (remember G-Force?), not 2019.

All of this is to say that MGM and friends deserve a huge tip of the hat for this one. They needed a domestic smash and they got one, even if the $24 million toon doesn’t leg out after Sunday. It was a still-potent brand, with a solid cast (Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Elsie Fisher and Snoop Dogg), kid-friendly trailers and a smart release date. Yes, it’s a triumph of brand and IP over originality and/or star power, but you take the wins where you can get them. The Addams Family, which went over just fine with my eight-year-old, my four-year-old and their five-year-old cousin, is a win.

Alas, originality and star power stumbled. Gemini Man, an ambitious, $138 million actioner starring Will Smith as a retiring assassin forced to do battle with a clone of his younger self, earned just $7.48 million yesterday. That positions the film for a $20 million launch, which is a big whiff even with the hope that it’ll play better overseas. Credit the poor reviews and the relatively “What you see is what you get” concept. It probably didn’t help that so much of the chatter was about the high-frame rate, which either turned folks off or dissuaded moviegoers who didn’t live near a multiplex showing it as such from bothering. After all, if you can’t see The Walk in IMAX, why bother?

The Paramount/Skydance production, which opens in China next weekend (Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk earned $30 million there three years ago), was always going to be an overseas play. But, save for a few exceptions, you really have to score in North America as well if you want to be a genuine global hit. Besides, the exceptions, think xXx: Return of Xander Cage or Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, were cheap enough to not need to break records to break out. Moreover, China is filled with big local product at the moment, to the point where even DreamWorks and Pearl Studio’s Abominable is struggling to break out. Fingers crossed, but let’s hope Smith already deposited that $20 million check for King Richard.

Lionsgate’s Jexi was dumped into theaters and was mostly ignored. The poorly-reviewed comedy, about a guy whose Siri-like smartphone assistant tries to improve and then take over his life, earned just $1.14 million on Friday for a likely $3.12 million debut weekend. In better news, Neon’s Parasite lived up to the hype. Bong Joon Ho’s critically-adored (it rocks) thriller earned $120,000 on Friday in just four theaters, setting the stage for a $348,000 weekend and $116,290 per-theater average. It’ll be the top per-screen debut of the year and the 12th-biggest average ever for a live-action debut. Plenty of movies (Steve Jobs, The Master, Tree of Life) have posted scorching per-theater debuts only to flat line in regular release, but we can be optimistic for now.

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I've studied the film industry, both academically and informally, and with an emphasis in box office analysis, for nearly 30 years. I have extensively written about all

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