War drama 1917 marches to box-office victory in North America

Benedict Cumberbatch as Colonel Mackenzie in a scene from 1917, directed by Sam Mendes.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Colonel Mackenzie in a scene from 1917, directed by Sam Mendes.PHOTO: AP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Universal's war drama 1917 took command of the North American box office this weekend, riding its Golden Globes success to earn an estimated US$36.5 million (S$49 million), industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported on Sunday (Jan 12).

The film's unexpectedly strong showing was timely, with Oscar nominations set to be announced on Monday.

Last Sunday, it won Golden Globes - often a predictor of Oscar success - for both best drama and best director (Sam Mendes).

1917, filmed as if in one long, continuous shot - one critic called it a "protean display of virtuoso filmmaking" - flourished despite a lack of A-list stars.

The central characters, two British lance corporals on a desperate mission, are played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman; Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch have minor roles.

Disney's Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, fell to second place after a month in first with a take of US$15.1 million. The finale of the nine-film "Skywalker Saga" has now taken in a global total just shy of US$1 billion.

In third, down one spot from last weekend, was Sony's action sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, which earned US$14 million for third place in the Friday-through-Sunday period. It stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart.

Tied for fourth place were Paramount's new release Like A Boss and Warner Bros drama Just Mercy, each with US$10 million.

Like A Boss stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek in the story of two friends whose small beauty company is targeted by an industry titan.

Just Mercy, with Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson, is based on the true story of a black man on death row in Alabama who appeals his wrongful conviction for the murder of a white woman.

Rounding out the top 10 were: Little Women (US$7.7 million) Underwater (US$7 million) Frozen II (US$5.8 million) Knives Out (US$5.7 million) Spies In Disguise (US$5.1 million)