Things were looking fairly bleak at the box office this weekend, as many people were getting prepared for Super Bowl LVII with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Philadelphia Eagles. Since no one will know how much the movies in theaters will be affected by the game, the numbers below should be considered little more than rough estimates.
This Past Weekend
The big release of the weekend was Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum‘s Magic Mike’s Last Dance, co-starring Salma Hayek Pinault, but Warner Bros. Discovery was playing its usual games by not releasing official box office info until Sunday. It also only released the movie into a meager 1,500 theaters, which seems unheard of, since theaters across the country are fairly desperate for new content.
It was revealed on Sunday that Magic Mike’s Last Dance took in $4.1 million on Friday but had a big drop on Saturday and a massive drop on Sunday for an estimated opening weekend of just $8.2 million. That is the lowest #1 opening weekend since before theaters in New York and L.A. reopened after the pandemic shutdown. It averaged $5,467 per theater, the best showing in the top ten, but some might wonder if the movie could have matched the $12.9 million opening for 2015’s “Magic Mike XXL” if Warner Bros. gave it a wider release.
Case in point about theaters needing new content, director James Cameron pulled off a rare two-fer in the top three when Paramount Pictures re-released his Oscar-winning 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, back into 2,464 theaters on Friday. It pulled in $6.4 million, roughly $2,600 per theater, but that wasn’t enough to unseat Cameron’s more recent blockbuster, Avatar: The Way of Water, which jumped back into second place with $6.9 million, down just 39%. The re-release brings Titanic‘s domestic total to $665.8 million, while The Way of Water is currently at $646.9 million, and $20 million doesn’t seem like much for Avatar to pull ahead. Overseas is a different story, because as of this writing, The Way of Water only needs $4 million to surpass Titanic‘s $2.217 all-time global gross to become the third-highest global grosser of all time. It made $18.9 million overseas just this past weekend.
Paramount’s other relative hit, the sports comedy 80 for Brady, dropped to fourth place with an estimated $6 million, down 53% from last weekend. It has grossed just below $25 million.
It didn’t look like Universal Pictures wanted to play favorites between M. Night Shyamalan‘s thriller Knock at the Cabin and the DreamWorks Animation sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, since both movies are estimated to make $5.5 million. We’ll have to wait for Monday actuals to see which one actually came out ahead to take fifth place. Puss in Boots is currently at $158.5 million domestic gross, while Knock has made just $23.5 million in ten days. (UPDATE: With the actual released on Monday, Puss in Boots takes fifth place with $5.6 million to Knock‘s $5.4 million in sixth place.)
Sony‘s A Man Called Otto, starring Tom Hanks, took sixth place with $2.63 million, followed closely behind by Sony’s Missing with $2.6 million – another close race – while Universal’s horror hit, M3GAN, took ninth place with $2.4 million, as it passed the $90.9 million at the domestic box office.
IFC Films decided to release Christopher Smith’s religious horror film, Consecration, starring Jena Malone and Danny Huston, into 762 theaters on Friday, far too wide for the indie film, which brought in just $370,000, a measly $479 per theater.
20th Century Fox had a decent-sized hit with Kenneth Branagh‘s Murder on the Orient Express in 2017 with Branagh played Agatha Christie‘s beloved sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Making over $100 million domestic and another $250 million overseas, it made sense to greenlight a sequel, even as Fox was being bought by Disney. The resulting star-studded sequel, Death on the Nile, which featured the likes of Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, and pre-controversy Armie Hammer, ended up opening with just $12.9 million, which was enough for first place.
Paramount‘s Jackass Forever dropped a massive 65% to second place with $8.1 million, while Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson were teamed for the pre-Valentine’s Day rom-com Marry Me, which opened with just $8 million in 3,642 theaters, not helped by
Opening in fifth place was Liam Neeson‘s crime-thriller Blacklight, released by Briarcliff Entertainment (essentially a rebranded Open Road), but that bombed with just $3.5 million in 2,772 theaters. (Ironically, Neeson has another movie with that same distributor opening this weekend.)
This weekend is Presidents’ Day weekend with another school and government holiday on Monday, the perfect time to release the newest MCU movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, once again starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, as well as Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kathryn Newton (as Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie). More importantly, it’s the second appearance by Jonathan Majors as the Marvel super-villain Kang the Conqueror, who will be playing a large part in the MCU leading up to 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. (The movie also stars Bill Murray and brings back Corey Stoll from the original Ant-Man, but playing a different character.)
Rudd first took on the role of Ant-Man in the movie of the same name in 2015, also directed by Peyton Reed, and that was seen as a bit of a disappointment, opening with just $57.2 million and making $180.2 million domestically. Fortunately, it made over twice that amount overseas, and Ant-Man was given another run with Ant-Man and the Wasp, co-starring Lilly, which did slightly better, opening with $75.8 million on its way to $216.6 in North America. That may have been considered good if Avengers: Infinity War hadn’t *OPENED* with $257.7 million just a few months earlier.
Quantumania is a pretty big movie for Marvel, since it kicks off Phase 5, and it’s likely to be a lot more epic and possibly more serious than the previous two installments. On top of that, Majors is becoming a hotter and hotter star with each project. Although he previously appeared as Kang in the season finale of Loki last year, 2023 is clearly going to be his year. Besides his MCU film debut, he also stars as the baddie in Michael B. Jordan‘s Creed III, which opens in just a few short weeks, plus he’s gotten raves for his performance in the Sundance movie, Magazine Dreams.
Early reactions are generally good with actual reviews hitting on Tuesday, so we’ll have to see how things shake out, but either way, Quantumania should be good for $122 to 126 million over the extended weekend, and it’s likely to remain #1 for at least two weekend, maybe three, depending on how well Creed III does when it opens on March 3.
Actor Liam Neeson teams with filmmaker Neil Jordan for Marlowe, Neeson’s fifth movie released by Open Road/Briarcliff over the past three years. It’s opening on Wednesday in an unknown number of theater, but it’s likely to be closer to 1,500 to 2,000 theaters rather than ultrawide.
This is a period noir crime-thriller with Neeson playing Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler‘s popular literary detective, whose life in print has been kept alive by other authors, all authorized by the Chandler estate. In the movie, Marlowe needs to find the ex-lover of an heiress with the cast including Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Colm Meany, Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad), Alan Cumming, and Danny Huston (who just appeared in Consecration).
The big hurdle for Marlowe is that very few of Neeson’s movies for the distributor have done particularly well. Honest Thief was one of the first movies released after the COVID shutdown of 2020, but neither that nor The Marksman a few months later made more than $16 million domestically, and the next two movies, Memory and Blacklight, only made half that amount.
There might be some hope that the name brand value of Chandler’s detective might help Marlowe do slightly better, especially with older males, but opening against Ant-Man in a moderately wide release might keep it from making more than $5 million over the four-day weekend. Oddly, that might be end up being enough to get into the top five.
One of the weekend’s odder releases is the microbudget horror film, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, which involves filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield taking advantage of A.A. Milne’s beloved children’s character entering the public domain to turn Pooh into a full-on serial killer. Part of the reason this is even getting a theatrical release is because of the success of Damien Lewis‘s low-budget horror film, Terrifier 2, which grossed $10.6 million last October as one of the horror season’s biggest surprises. (IFC Films had similar success recently with the microbudget Skinamarink, so clearly, this is going to be a thing now.)
Furthermore, Sony Pictures is re-releasing Ang Lee‘s Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon nationwide on Friday, hoping to maybe bring in some of the fans Oscar nominee Michelle Yeoh has garnered in the 22 years since that movie made such enormous waves in the States.
Focus Features is releasing Goran (You Won’t Be Alone) Stolevski‘s Australian coming-of-age drama, Of an Age, into 250 theaters this weekend, having ditched its plans for a wide release. It skipped the festival circuit, but has gotten fairly decent reviews so far. Also, Sony Pictures Classics is releasing Davy Chou‘s Oscar shortlisted film, Return to Seoul, about a 25-year-old woman who returns to Korea looking for her biological parents, but just in New York and L.A.
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.