Thursday, April 25, 2024

Box Office: Genteel “Downton Abbey” Takes Brad Pitt’s “Ad Astra” and Stallone’s “Rambo,” Gives Studio Highest Debut Ever


Gentility and peak TV won the day at the box office Friday, and should command the weekend as well.

Julian Fellowes’ delightful “Downton Abbey” transfer to the big screen knocked out both Brad Pitt’s “Ad Astra” and Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo: First Blood” last night. Including Thursday previews, the Crawley family and their friends are the big box office winners today.

This means that Focus Features, the literary end of Universal Pictures, will have its biggest opening weekend ever with $31 million. This is quite an achievement. It’s due to Universal being under the same roof as NBC, which also owns Carnival Productions, the company that made the hit TV series broadcast here on PBS. Imagine if NBC had broadcast “Downton.”

On Thursday night, “Downton” easily took “Ad Astra” and “Rambo” in previews. This isn’t to say anything negative about “As Astra,” a gorgeous film with a sensitive lead performance from Pitt.

But “Downton” has its huge, devoted fan base as a foundation. And then, it’s really a lovely film, so well written, directed, and acted, you’re ready to see it again. And I’m pretty sure fans will do exactly that. Word of mouth should be excellent.

As Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and I joked at the splendid premiere this past week at the Plaza Hotel, “Downton Abbey” could become like the “Avengers” series, with 11 episodes! But really, we can expect a sequel or two definitely. Smartly, Fellowes has left the door open for Maggie Smith to return as the Dowager Countess even though she suggests that this is her last rodeo.

It should be noted too that “Downton Abbey” had the lowest theater count of the three movies in competition.

Friday numbers including Thursday previews: “Downton” $13.8 million, “Ad Astra” $7 million, “Rambo”–$7.1 million. The latter two are basically tied.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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