Matt Damon in a scene from the film, "Ford v. Ferrari." AP
"Ford v Ferrari” left its competition in the rearview mirror, racing to an estimated $31 million debut at the box office in a No. 1 finish that counted as a win for big-budget originality.
James Mangold’s racing drama rode into the weekend with strong reviews and Oscar buzz for its leads, Christian Bale and Matt Damon. And audiences enthusiastically greeted it, giving the $98 million movie an A+ CinemaScore. "Ford v Ferrari,” which dramatizes the Ford Motor Co.’s push to unseat perennial power Ferrari at France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966, has been considered a rare kind of high-priced throwback built more on story, practical effects and star power than intellectual property.
Elizabeth Banks’ "Charlie’s Angels” reboot couldn’t keep up. The Sony Pictures release opened below expectations with $8.6 million domestically and $19.3 million overseas, according to studio estimates Sunday. Though the movie was relatively modestly budgeted at $48 million, it fell well short of the $40.1 million debut of the 2000’s "Charlie’s Angels,” with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. (The 2003 sequel opened similarly with $37.6 million.)
That made the initial success of "Ford v Ferrari” stand out even more. The Walt Disney Co. release’s opening weekend, which included $21.4 million internationally, has several laps to go before reaching profitability. But as an adult-oriented action film with excellent audience scores and awards attention, "Ford v Ferrari” is likely to play well for weeks to come.
"Ford v Ferrari,” made by 20th Century Fox before the company’s acquisition by Disney, is the biggest Fox hit yet released by Disney. Much of the studio’s previous Fox output, including "Stuber” and the X-Men film "Dark Phoenix,” has flopped. The "Ford v Ferrari” release comes sandwiched between two major Disney initiatives - the recently launched Disney+ streaming service, and the upcoming "Frozen 2” release.
Warner Bros.’ "The Good Liar,” a mystery starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, was the weekend’s other new wide release. It managed a modest $5.7 million, adding to a string of underperforming adult-targeting releases for the studio, including "Blinded by the Light,” "The Goldfinch” and "The Kitchen.”
Those disappointments all pale, though, to the Warner success "Joker.” On Friday, it passed $1 billion worldwide.
"‘Ford v Ferrari may have won the race this weekend, but the industry is still trying to get out of neutral,” Dergarabedian said. "We need ‘Frozen’ to thaw out this box office.”
In limited release, Trey Edward Shults’ anguished family drama "Waves” opened on four screens in New York and Los Angeles with a $36,140 per-screen average for A24.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
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