Friday, May 24, 2024

Box Office: “Judy” Looks for a Rainbow with $3 Mil Debut, “Downton Abbey” Heads to $70 Mil and a Sequel, “Ad Astra” Spaces Out


This was not the most exciting box office weekend. The number 1 film, the animated “Abominable,” made just $20 million. For animation, it’s an abomination.

The good news is that “Downton Abbey” is heading toward $70 million next week and is a close number 2. So a sequel (or two) are in the cards, and quickly, quickly. That’s because Violet, the Dowager Countess, announced portentous news at the end of this one. So to reasonably keep Maggie Smith in part 2, Julian Fellowes must make a second film that falls in the timeline quickly.

(We have to see Branson marry Imelda Staunton’s illegitimate daughter and inherit everything. Then for part 3, the daughter dies, so does Mary’s husband, and then Tom and Mary join up for a ferocious triumph after World War II: Downton Abbey motels. Also, Barrow has to meet Alan Turing. No I am just making this up, but the sequels are coming despite my irreverence. PS Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay must be at the pub right now wondering where it all went wrong.)

Next Friday, er, Thursday, we’re getting “Joker,” which will be a massive number no matter what else is said, and Pedro Almodovar’s wonderful, “Pain and Glory,” which could could bring an Oscar nomination for Antonio Banderas.

This week’s possible success story is Rupert Goold’s “Judy.” It made $3 million at 461 theaters. On Friday, it expands. This is Renee Zellweger’s Best Actress Oscar bid, and she’s way out front. Will Roadside Attractions rise to the occasion? Or did they release a month too soon? We’ll see how this goes. RAtt., as its listed on, is not known for marketing savvy.

Currently, “Ad Astra” has spaced out completely despite a very good Brad Pitt and excellent cinematography. Space movies are for some reason not great investments lately. Last year, Damien Chazelle’s very good “First Man” sputtered.  Now “Lucy” is coming apart, with a very low 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sadly, “Lucy in the Sky” looks like it will be an aborted mission for Fox Searchlight.

For Fox Searchlight, the “Lucy” show is not good. Their whole pitch to Disney is that they’d give the studio Oscars and kudos, as they did with “Shape of Water,” and “Three Billboards.” They made money on the low cost “Ready or Not,” but not much. Now “Lucy” will be a disappointment. Coming next are “Jojo Rabbit,” which is a crap shoot, and “Hidden Life,” a movie that had buzz in Cannes but has disappeared from any conversation (maybe because people are sleeping).

Fox Searchlight has a huge winner in the “The Private Life of David Copperfield.” I wish they’d just rev it up and get it out there. All this doom and gloom would vanish in a second.


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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