Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Elsewhere, Clint Eastwood’s ‘The Mule’ targets $18 million, while Barry Jenkins’ ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ shines at the specialty box office.

Sony’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is easily winning the weekend box-office race, grossing $12.6 million Friday from 3,813 theaters for a projected weekend debut of $35 million-$40 million, the best showing ever for an animated film launching in the month of December.

Elsewhere, Clint Eastwood’s The Mule is off to a solid trot, while the big-budget, Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines is bombing. And the PG-13 cut of Once Upon a Deadpool is expected to collect nearly $4 million, a tidy sum for a rerelease.

Spider-Verse, costing a reported $90 million to make, earned a coveted A+ CinemaScore from audiences. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman directed.

The critically acclaimed film, produced by Philip Lord and Christopher Miller, reveals a shared universe where there can be more than one Spider-Man, and introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as the latest hero to wear the mask. Spider-Verse is unique for featuring a superhero who is half Puerto Rican and half African-American. It currently boasts a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Mule, directed by and starring Eastwood, placed No. 2 Friday with $5.9 million from 2,588 theaters for a weekend debut in the $17 million-$18 million range. It is playing notably older, with 78 percent of the audience over the age of 35.

The crime drama, which marks the first time Eastwood has appeared onscreen since 2012’s Trouble With the Curve, also stars Dianne Wiest, Michael Pena, Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, Alison Eastwood, Taissa Farmiga and Ignacio Serricchio. Bradley Cooper also has a role in the movie, which earned an A-CinemaScore.

The Mule tells the story of Earl Stone (Eastwood), a man in his 80s who is broke, alone and facing the foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. What he discovers is that he has just signed on as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. Stone does the job so well that his cargo increases exponentially, and he is assigned a handler.

Mortal Engines is looking at a fifth-place finish for the weekend with a projected $7 million-$9 million after earning an estimated $2.8 million on Friday from 3,103 theaters. Audiences gave the film a B- CinemaScore. Domestically, it had been tracking to debut in the $10 million-$17 million range.

Mortal Engines is a post-apocalyptic steampunk thriller directed by Christian Rivers from an adapted script by Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery star.

The big-budget film, which cost Universal and MRC at least $100 million to produce, has collected roughly $20 million so far. It is facing tough competition from Warner Bros.’ Aquaman, which has collected nearly $180 million overseas ahead of its Dec. 21 domestic launch.

MRC is a division of Valence Media, which also owns The Hollywood Reporter.

Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk looks to be the star of the specialty box office, and is on course to post a location average of $60,000 in its debut in four cinemas in Los Angeles and New York.

Elsewhere, Fox’s Once Upon a Deadpool delivered $910k on Wednesday as it opened in 1,566 locations and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it work its way its way into the top ten, but right now we have it just outside, trailing Universal’s Green Book for that last slot with $3.2 million.

In limited release this weekend, IFC will debut the R-rated version of Lars von Trier‘s The House that Jack Built in 33 locations following the one-night only screening of the director’s cut raised such a fuss. Additionally, Annapurna will release Moonlight director Barry Jenkins‘s follow-up If Beale Street Could Talk into four theaters and Sony Classics will debut Capernaum in three theaters.

Finally, Fox Searchlight will continue to expand The Favourite into more locations this weekend, playing in 439 theaters (+348) and Neon is expanding the release of Vox Lux into 325 theaters (+319).

This weekend’s forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (3,813 theaters) – $40.0 M
  • The Mule (2,588 theaters) – $17.0 M
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (3,756 theaters) – $11.7 M
  • Mortal Engines (3,103 theaters) – $11.0 M
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet (3,575 theaters) – $10.6 M
  • Creed II (3,107 theaters) – $5.9 M
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (2,213 theaters) – $4.1 M
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2,606 theaters) – $3.8 M
  • Instant Family (2,860 theaters) – $3.7 M
  • Green Book (1,215 theaters) – $3.3 M