Box Office: 'Midway' Downs 'Doctor Sleep' in Surprise Upset

Courtesy of Lionsgate

Elsewhere, 'Last Christmas' and 'Playing With Fire' are also opening nationwide.

In a surprise upset, Roland Emmerich's Midway is beating horror-thriller Doctor Sleep at the U.S. box office.

Midway grossed $6.3 million on Friday for a projected debut of $17 million to $18 million, fueled in part by a strong turnout in America's heartland. While that's ahead of tracking, it's still a sobering start for a movie that cost $100 million to produce before marketing. The World War II epic will need to do impressive business overseas to land in the black.

Heading into the Veteran's Day frame, Doctor Sleep — a sequel set decades after the events in Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining — was easily expected to win with $25 million or more for Warner Bros.

Instead, the R-rated pic earned $5.2 million on Friday for a projected $13 million to $14 million debut. Doctor Sleep is directed by Mike Flanagan and stars Ewan McGregor as an adult Danny Torrance. It opens 39 years after Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, hit the big screen.

Doctor Sleep — running 152 minutes — cost upwards of $50 million to produce before marketing.

Midway, starring Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas, is from AGC Studios. Billed as one of the most expensive indie films ever made, it as financed by various entities, including money from China, where it debuts this weekend. Lionsgate is releasing the pic in the U.S., and timed the release to Veteran's Day weekend (the studio is also handling in the U.K.).

Whatever the ultimate outcome, Lionsgate insiders say the film is already a success for the company, which presently outranks Paramount and 20th Century Fox in domestic marketshare.

Early holiday rom-com Last Christmas, starring Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke, opened to $4.1 million on Friday for a projected $12 million debut, on the low end of expectations. The Universal pic, directed by Paul Feig from a script by Emma Thompson, cost an even more modest $30 million to produce.

Last Christmas, inspired by the famous George Michael and Wham! song, also stars Thompson and Michelle Yeoh.

The fourth new release of the weekend is Paramount and Walden Media's family-friendly Playing With Fire, starring John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane as a group of firefighters who face their most challenging job yet: babysitting.

Playing With Fire grossed $3.6 million on Friday for a projected weekend opening of $11 million to $12 million, ahead of pre-release tracking. Brianna Hildebrand also stars in the Andy Fickman-directed film.

In terms of audience grades, Midway earned an A despite being ravaged by most critics. Doctor Sleep and Playing with Fire each received by a B+, while Last Christmas received a lukewarm B-.

At the specialty box office, Amazon Studios is opening Honey Boy in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Filmmaker Alma Har'el's critically acclaimed film, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf, is on course for an impressive opening weekend average of $64,000.

Nov. 9, 8 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.