For the first time in history, a pair of animated pics — Ralph Breaks the Internet and The Grinch — claimed the top two spots on the box-office chart for the second weekend in a row, underscoring the buying power of families.
Disney Animation Studios’ Ralph 2 stayed No. 1 for the third consecutive weekend with $16.1 million for a domestic total of $140.9 million and global cume of $117.3 million.
Illumination and Universal’s holiday-themed Grinch, benefiting from its holiday-themed story, took in $15.2 million in its fifth weekend for $223.5 million domestically and $322.4 million globally.
The two family films took advantage of there being no new nationwide releases on the marquee as Hollywood studios prepare for the Christmas crush. Likewise, Paramount used the lull in the action to sneak Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld, in 326 theaters on Friday night. The studio and Comscore aren’t reporting grosses, but say shows were sold out across the board. Reviews of the film began posting Saturday; Bumblebee‘s current Rotten Tomatoes score is a dazzling 100 percent.
The biggest headline was overseas, where Warner Bros. unfurled Aquaman in China two weeks before the movie swims into theaters in the U.S. Aquaman debuted to a record $93.4 million in China, the best showing ever for a DC comic book adaptation and a December record. Imax locations in the Middle Kingdom turned in nearly $10 million.
Back in North America, MGM and New Line’s Creed II remained a formidable contender in its third outing, earning $10.3 million for a strong domestic total of $96.5 million.
Elsewhere, Universal’s re-release of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List in more than 1,000 cinemas timed to the Oscar-winning film’s 25th anniversary earned $551,000. (Re-releases don’t generally do big business and Schindler’s List was no exception.)
Among awards contenders, DreamWorks and Participant Media’s Green Book enjoyed a big boost at the box office after scoring top Golden Globe nominations last week. The film, distributed by Universal and playing in 1,181 locations, earned just as much as last weekend, or $3.9 million for a domestic total of $20 million.
A clutch of indie titles debuted at the specialty box office as awards season heats up. Focus Features’ Mary Queen of Scots turned in the best location average, or $50,045, from four cinemas. Neon’s Vox Lux posted a screen average of $27,042 from six cinemas, followed by Roadside and LD Entertaiment’s Ben Is Back with $20,243 from four sites.
The domestic box office begins picking up in earnest next weekend with the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Clint Eastwood’s The Mule and Once Upon in Deadpool, a PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2. Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters on Dec. 19, followed by Aquaman and Bumblebee on Dec. 21, among other entries.