We’ve fully entered the normally-busy holiday movie season now, although it seems to be launching much lighter than usual, at least when it comes to…
This Past Weekend
With only one new wide release and two expanding prestige films, neither doing very big business, this weekend seemed like a throwback to September, when only one movie opened with more than $20 million.
Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam won its third weekend in a row with $18.5 million, down 33% from last weekend, bringing its domestic total to $137.4 million before it gets clobbered by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever next weekend. (See below.) The movie is doing slightly better overseas, where it added another $25.4 million to bring its global total to $319.7 million. For a comparison, the related Shazam! movie made $140.4 million domestically and $366 million worldwide in 2018, but that movie’s budget was also half that of Black Adam. Still, this is not a great way for Warner Bros. Discovery to end 2022 with its last theatrical release.
The single new wide release was the Anime feature, One Piece Film: Red, which Crunchyroll released into 2,367 theaters on Friday with previews on Thursday night. The previews earned $1.7 million towards the movie’s $4.8 million Friday where it just barely beat Black Adam. By Sunday, Crunchyroll has estimated an opening close to $9.5 million, less than half the opening of August’s Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.
Universal Pictures’ Ticket to Paradise, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, surprised many by becoming the widest release playing in theaters by expanding into 4,003 theaters on Friday. That wise move by Universal helped the movie take third place with $8.5 million, which was down just 13% from last weekend. It has grossed $46.7 million so far, domestically.
Paramount’s horror hit, Smile – the one movie that DID open with more than $20 million in September – continues to do big business even post-Halloween, retaining fourth place with $4 million (-26%) while bringing its domestic take to $99.1 million. Sometime this week, it will become the only movie to open since August, other than Black Adam, to cross the $100 million domestically.
Lionsgate’s own horror offering, Prey for the Devil, had a bigger 46% drop in its second weekend to take fifth place with $3.9 million and $13.7 million so far. Although horror movies normally would drop after Halloween, that didn’t fall nearly as hard as Universal’s Halloween Ends, which fell 65% from last weekend to take ninth place with $1.4 million. That was just ahead of the indie horror hit, Terrifier 2, which made $1.2 million this weekend, a drop of just 45% that brings it even closer to $10 million.
Sony’s family film, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, seems to be picking up steam in its fifth weekend (and probably its last weekend in over 3,000 theaters), taking sixth place with $3.4 million, Even so, it’s only grossed $36.6 million, so we’ll have to see if upcoming Disney and DreamWorks Animation films bring family audiences back to theaters.
The two movies that expanded nationwide were Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and James Gray’s Armageddon Time, into 895 and 1,006 theaters, respectively. Banshees fared better with $2 million ($2,235 per theater) to take seventh place, while Armageddon Time – despite its own award-winning star power of Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, and Sir Anthony Hopkins – opened outside the top ten with $810,000 or $802 per theater. Both movies premiered at festivals, although Gray’s movie debuted all the way back in May at Cannes, while McDonagh’s film received love from more recent film festivals.
As mentioned, this weekend was another throwback to September with the top ten barely eking out $54 million cumulatively, something theater owners hope will change with Friday’s new offering.
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||Black Adam||Warner Bros.||$18,271,625||3,985||$137,117,326|
|2||One Piece Film: Red||Crunchyroll||$9,337,359||2,367||$9,337,359|
|3||Ticket to Paradise||Universal||$8,546,985||4,066||$46,771,105|
|5||Prey for the Devil||Lionsgate||$3,893,288||2,980||$13,661,998|
|6||Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile||Sony Pictures||$3,367,758||3,005||$36,574,626|
|7||The Banshees of Inisherin||Searchlight Pictures||$2,056,919||895||$3,090,021|
|10||Terrifier 2||Iconic Releasing||$1,130,625||1,245||$9,768,975|
Marvel Studios released its third movie of 2021 with the Chloé Zhao-directed Eternals, released by Disney into 4,090 theaters to an opening weekend of $71.3 million. That was compared to the $80.4 opening for Black Widow in July and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which opened with $75.4 million in three days over the Labor Day weekend.
That was followed in a distant second place by Denis Villeneuve’s Dune with $7.8 million in its third weekend, in which it had grossed $84.1 million.
Third place went to the Bond film, No Time to Die, with $6 million, down just 22%, while Venom: Let There Be Carnage also had a minimal 22% drop in its sixth weekend to take fourth place with $4.5 million. It was clear that a new Marvel movie in the market wasn’t going to stop some of October’s bigger releases. (Even so, all of the previous week’s releases had massive drops in their second weekends.)
Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch expanded into 1,205 theaters, where it took in $2.6 million for 6th place, bringing its domestic total to $8.5 million. Halloween Kills had a massive 73% drop post-Halloween, taking it from second place down to seventh with just $2.3 million.
The only other new wide release of the weekend was NEON’s Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as the late Princess Di, but that only made $2.1 million in 996 theaters for an eighth place opening.
Long predicted to be one of the biggest releases of the fall movie season, Marvel Studio’s latest, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, brings back director Ryan Coogler and most of the previous cast, other than the late Chadwick Boseman, whose sudden and unfortunate death in 2020 put a damper on Coogler’s original sequel plans.
It is a rarity when a sequel is made without the original film’s main star – 2 Fast 2 Furious immediately comes to mind – but to make a sequel to such a hugely successful movie without the actor who played the title character is entering new ground for Hollywood and for Disney. Fortunately, Wakanda Forever does bring back much of the SAG Ensemble-winning cast from the 2018 movie, which opened with $202 million on its way to $700 million domestic and $1.3 billion worldwide. It is currently the sixth-highest grossing movie of all time, domestically, having recently been passed by Top Gun: Maverick.
Wakanda Forever also introduces prominent new characters, including Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta (The Forever Purge) as Namor — one of the earliest Marvel Comics characters — as well as Dominique Thorne (Judas and the Black Messiah) as Riri Williams aka Ironheart, a more recent Marvel hero. Going by the trailer, it’s also introducing a new Black Panther.
While much of 2021 was used by Marvel to introduce new characters, 2022 has mostly been about the theatrical sequels with Doctor Strange into the Multiverse of Madness opening in May, followed by Thor: Love and Thunder two months later. Those opened with $187.4 million and $144.1 million, respectively, despite less than gushing reviews and mixed reactions.
Although there has been plenty of Disney+ content, Wakanda Forever is Marvel’s first theatrical release in four months, but it’s coming more than four years after the original movie, which isn’t really that long for a Marvel sequel. Tracking pegged the movie to make more than $180 million opening weekend for the past month, but there’s been such a slew of marketing and promotion for the movie over the past few weeks, the anticipation is going to lead to many sold out shows, particularly in IMAX and even in 3D. (Disney has been trying to get audiences re-accustomed to the 3D glasses ahead of the release of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water next month.) These factors should lead to the first $200 million opening of 2022, making it only the eighth movie ever to achieve that benchmark.
Opening in select cities this weekend is Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical, The Fabelmans, starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and Gabriel LaBelle, which Universal is platforming ahead of its nationwide release over Thanksgiving. This movie’s awards campaign began with a prominent World Premiere at this year’s TIFF – you can read J. Don Birnam’s early review of the movie over at Below the Line – and it will be intriguing to see if the rave reviews help the movie fare better at the box office than last year’s West Side Story. It’s still a very long way to Oscar night, so how Universal rolls this movie out will also be interesting to watch.
Edward Douglas has been writing about the box office for 21 years at places like ComingSoon.net, The Tracking Board, and many others, but mostly under the banner of “The Weekend Warrior.” He’s also a film critic with bylines at Film Journal, The New York Daily News, Den of Geek, and other places.
Box Office Breakdown will be posted each week by Monday morning. You can read other features by Edward Douglas over at Below the Line.