Box Office: ‘The Addams Family’ Scares Up Terrific $30 Million Opening Weekend

Charlize Theron and Chloë Grace Moretz in 'The Addams Family'

Charlize Theron and Chloë Grace Moretz in 'The Addams Family'

© 2019 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Here’s one weird bit of trivia that never made it into a stand-alone post: Sony and Adam Sandler’s animated Hotel Transylvania trilogy is unique in that each installment is leggier than its predecessor. Hotel Transylvania earned $148 million in 2012 from a $42 million opening weekend, Hotel Transylvania 2 earned $169 million in 2015 from a $48 million launch, and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (released not in September but in July) earned $167 million domestic from a $44 million launch in 2018. And since Hotel Transylvania 4 is opening in Christmas of 2020, I expect that trend to continue. The core concept of a hotel-like mansion filled with comedic ghouls, ghosts and macabre folks is a kid-friendly concept, and that the Genndy Tartakovsky-directed films (at least the first two) happen to be pretty good didn’t hurt.

This is just one variable that somewhat explains the exceptional overperformance of MGM and United Artists Releasing’s The Addams Family this weekend. The $24 million toon earned a superb $30.299 million in its Fri-Sun debut. That’s a new record for United Artists Releasing, at least since they “returned” as a separate distribution entity. If you also choose to count it among MGM’s “new” releases (it was releasing by MGM via United Artists), then it’s their second biggest launch behind the $35 million Fri-Sun debut of Creed II last Thanksgiving. Either way, it’s a massive win for a studio that needed a massive win. And, yes, I’m a little surprised in that this easily could have been a classic “just because audiences have heard of you doesn’t mean they care about you” IP miss.

It was a “new to you” franchise for kids too young to have read the original comic strips, watched the 1960’s TV show or seen the 1990’s movies, but the property is old and varied enough that it clicked on a multi-generational nostalgic level. This isn’t unlike Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which had an animated movie snag a $25 million debut in 2007, 14 years after the last live-action feature, and then get a new live-action reboot in 2014 which would earn a stunning $491 million worldwide cume. The live-action flicks, especially Addams Family Values (the best comedy sequel since A Shot in the Dark), have a continual fanbase within nerd culture, partially because Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams was a pioneering and still relevant role model for young outcasts. She was Daria with a body count.

United Artists did the usual thing of flooding the cast with known actors (Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Elsie Fisher and Snoop Dogg) and a marketing bonanza including a ton of product tie-ins. 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 these factors explain how you get a hit movie in 2009 (remember G-Force?), not 2019. As such, I’m very impressed. As for the movie, it’s painless and occasionally amusing. My four-year-old, his eight-year-old brother and their five-year-old cousin enjoyed it.

It soared as a pre-Halloween treat, opening before the one-two punch of Walt Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Sony’s Zombieland: Double Tap next weekend. Its opening weekend is 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. If it legs out anywhere near the likes of Hotel Transylvania or Goosebumps ($80 million from a $23 million debut in 2015), we’re looking at an over/under $105 million domestic cume. Even something closer to Goosebumps 2 ($46.7 million/$14.8 million in 2015) gets it to $96 million domestic. The tracking suggested around $25 million as of three weeks ago, but I dared not hope for such a bounty.

Speaking of hope, this is the third time in five weekends where a smaller studio has scored a personal best opening weekend with a $30 million-plus launch. Hustlers opened with $31.5 million in mid-September to score the biggest launch (by around 1/3) ever for an STX Entertainment release. A week later, Downton Abbey became Focus Features’ biggest opening ever with a $31.5 million debut, and it’s about to pass Brokeback Mountain ($83 million in 2005) to become their biggest unadjusted grosser ever. And now United Artists Releasing has nabbed an opening weekend that’s bigger than the total grosses of all their recent releases save for The Hustle ($35 million). Like The Hustle, this one will play overseas courtesy of Universal. Yes, two of those were brand/IP triumphs, but I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

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Here’s one weird bit of trivia that never made it into a stand-alone post: Sony and Adam Sandler’s animated Hotel Transylvania trilogy is unique in that each installment is leggier than its predecessor. Hotel Transylvania earned $148 million in 2012 from a $42 million opening weekend, Hotel Transylvania 2 earned $169 million in 2015 from a $48 million launch, and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (released not in September but in July) earned $167 million domestic from a $44 million launch in 2018. And since Hotel Transylvania 4 is opening in Christmas of 2020, I expect that trend to continue. The core concept of a hotel-like mansion filled with comedic ghouls, ghosts and macabre folks is a kid-friendly concept, and that the Genndy Tartakovsky-directed films (at least the first two) happen to be pretty good didn’t hurt.

This is just one variable that somewhat explains the exceptional overperformance of MGM and United Artists Releasing’s The Addams Family this weekend. The $24 million toon earned a superb $30.299 million in its Fri-Sun debut. That’s a new record for United Artists Releasing, at least since they “returned” as a separate distribution entity. If you also choose to count it among MGM’s “new” releases (it was releasing by MGM via United Artists), then it’s their second biggest launch behind the $35 million Fri-Sun debut of Creed II last Thanksgiving. Either way, it’s a massive win for a studio that needed a massive win. And, yes, I’m a little surprised in that this easily could have been a classic “just because audiences have heard of you doesn’t mean they care about you” IP miss.

It was a “new to you” franchise for kids too young to have read the original comic strips, watched the 1960’s TV show or seen the 1990’s movies, but the property is old and varied enough that it clicked on a multi-generational nostalgic level. This isn’t unlike Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which had an animated movie snag a $25 million debut in 2007, 14 years after the last live-action feature, and then get a new live-action reboot in 2014 which would earn a stunning $491 million worldwide cume. The live-action flicks, especially Addams Family Values (the best comedy sequel since A Shot in the Dark), have a continual fanbase within nerd culture, partially because Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams was a pioneering and still relevant role model for young outcasts. She was Daria with a body count.

United Artists did the usual thing of flooding the cast with known actors (Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Elsie Fisher and Snoop Dogg) and a marketing bonanza including a ton of product tie-ins. 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 these factors explain how you get a hit movie in 2009 (remember G-Force?), not 2019. As such, I’m very impressed. As for the movie, it’s painless and occasionally amusing. My four-year-old, his eight-year-old brother and their five-year-old cousin enjoyed it.

It soared as a pre-Halloween treat, opening before the one-two punch of Walt Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Sony’s Zombieland: Double Tap next weekend. Its opening weekend is 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. If it legs out anywhere near the likes of Hotel Transylvania or Goosebumps ($80 million from a $23 million debut in 2015), we’re looking at an over/under $105 million domestic cume. Even something closer to Goosebumps 2 ($46.7 million/$14.8 million in 2015) gets it to $96 million domestic. The tracking suggested around $25 million as of three weeks ago, but I dared not hope for such a bounty.

Speaking of hope, this is the third time in five weekends where a smaller studio has scored a personal best opening weekend with a $30 million-plus launch. Hustlers opened with $31.5 million in mid-September to score the biggest launch (by around 1/3) ever for an STX Entertainment release. A week later, Downton Abbey became Focus Features’ biggest opening ever with a $31.5 million debut, and it’s about to pass Brokeback Mountain ($83 million in 2005) to become their biggest unadjusted grosser ever. And now United Artists Releasing has nabbed an opening weekend that’s bigger than the total grosses of all their recent releases save for The Hustle ($35 million). Like The Hustle, this one will play overseas courtesy of Universal. Yes, two of those were brand/IP triumphs, but I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

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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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