Box Office: '1917' Heads for Victorious $37M, 'Star Wars' Surrenders

1917_9_Still - Publicity - H 2019
Universal Pictures

Among other new offerings, 'Like a Boss' and 'Just Mercy' are in a close race for fourth place, while 'Underwater' is getting lost.

Sam Mendes' 1917 won the Friday box office with a victorious $14 million for a projected $37 million U.S. weekend, well ahead of expectations and one of the best nationwide starts ever for the month of January.

The acclaimed World War I drama, which had been tracking for a $20 million to $25 million weekend, also ends the reign of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which had topped the charts since blasting off Dec. 20.

Powered by older adults, 1917 is no doubt getting a boost from its top Golden Globe wins last weekend. The Amblin and Universal release also showed plenty of promise when first opening on Christmas Day in 11 theaters in seven cities. The film received an A- CinemaScore from Friday's audience. More than 50 percent of ticket buyers were 35 or older, while 60 percent were male. 

The period war epic, which cost roughly $90 million to produce before marketing, was filmed to appear as if it were unfolding in one continuous shot (the cinematographer was Roger Deakins). 

Rise of Skywalker, which has grossed north of $950 million globally, will come in No. 2 in its fourth weekend with an estimated $15 million to $16 million, followed by fellow holdover Jumanji: The Next Level with $13 million to $14 million in its fifth weekend.

Paramount's Like a Boss, the first R-rated studio comedy of 2020, opened to $3.9 million on Friday for a projected $11 million domestic debut. The Michael Arteta-directed pic stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek and tells the tale of two best friends whose beauty company is targeted by a cosmetics titan.

Like a Boss has been lambasted by critics but fared somewhat better with audiences, who gave it a B CinemaScore. Two-thirds of Friday's ticket buyers were female, while 65 percent were 35 and younger.

The comedy is in a close race for fourth place with the legal drama Just Mercy, another awards hopeful that opened in select cinemas over the holidays before expanding nationwide on Friday to $3.7 million.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Just Mercy — which earned a coveted A+ CinemaScore — stars Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Almost half of Friday ticket buyers were 50 and older.

Little Women remains a crowd-pleaser in its third outing. The Oscar hopeful and breakout box office hit is on course for a $7 million-plus weekend for a domestic total of roughly $75 million through Sunday.

Sci-fi thriller Underwater, starring Kristen Stewart, is getting submerged in its domestic opening after receiving a C CinemaScore and divided reviews. The pic grossed $2.5 million on Friday for a projected $6 million to $7 million launch, a worrisome start for a movie that cost $50 million to make before marketing. 

Chernin Entertainment produced Underwater, which was fully financed by TSG and is being distributed by Disney. The film, which also stars T.J. Miller and Vincent Cassel, follows a team of researchers who encounter mysterious creatures at the bottom of the ocean after an earthquake cripples their subterranean lab.