Things didn’t go quite as expected this weekend, as Marvel Studios‘ latest took a massive plunge, and the two new movies both did far better than projected. March kicks off four weeks of franchise sequels, which should make things quite exciting for studios, theater owners, and moviegoers alike. One actor who looks to have a particularly great weekend is Jonathan Majors, who will have a major presence in the top two movies.
This Past Weekend
Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathryn Newton, Michael Douglas, and Majors as big bad, Kang, became the #1 movie of the year after just one weekend. This weekend, it had a massive 70% drop – the biggest drop for any MCU movie, including 2021’s Eternals – though it still retained first place with $32.2 million. It has grossed $167.3 million in ten days, more than Eternals made in its entire domestic run, and that should keep it as the #1 movie for the year, at least for a few more weeks.
Overseas, Ant-Man added another $46.4 million to bring its international total to $196.3 million and global total to $363.6 million.
As far as the two new wide releases, Universal released the Elizabeth Banks-directed horror-comedy Cocaine Bear into 3,534 theaters on Friday with previews on Thursday that brought in $2 million. It managed to best Ant-Man on Friday with $8.7 million (including those previews) to $8.3 million, and it well surpassed all tracking and weekend projections with an estimated $23.1 million for the weekend, averaging $6,534 per location.
It came into the week with fairly decent reviews – Below the Line‘s J. Don Birnam liked it more than Above the Line reviewer, Abe Friedtanzer – but its “B-” CinemaScore tells a different story from audiences polled, giving it a tough hill to climb against the next few weeks of stronger sequels.
Lionsgate‘s faith-based drama, Jesus Revolution, directed by Jon Erwin (I Can Only Imagine) and Brent McCorkle (Unconditional) and starring Kelsey Grammer and Joel Courtney, as two of the major proponents of the spiritual boom of the ‘70s, was released into 2,475 theaters on Friday. It had already grossed $3.3 million from earlier previews and group sales, but it added another $15.5 million (estimated) over the weekend, putting it just behind the $17.1 million opening for Erwin’s 2018 hit, I Can Only Imagine. That movie went on to gross $83.5 million, although Jesus Revelation might not have quite the room to expand despite its “A+” CinemaScore (Erwin’s fourth!)
James Cameron‘s Avatar: The Way of Water dropped out of the top 3 for the first time since it was released in December, taking fourth place with $4.7 million (down 28%) and a domestic total of $665.4 million. It’s creeping up quickly on the domestic gross for Cameron’s 2009 Oscar-winning epic, Titanic, which recently had a 25th anniversary re-release that is quickly stalling. Internationally, it has grossed $1.6 billion, bringing its global cume to $2.267 billion, making it the third-highest grossing blockbuster ever.
The Universal and DreamWorks Animation sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, also continues to do well since its December release, adding another $4.1 million this weekend to take fifth place. It has grossed $173.4 domestically and another $269.1 million overseas ($7.4 million this weekend) for a global total of $442.5 million.
Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike’s Last Dance, starring Channing Tatum, hasn’t been able to recover from Warner Bros‘ flaky release pattern, dropping to sixth place with $3 million, down 44%, with a running total of $23.3 million.
M. Night Shyamalan‘s Knock at the Cabin and Paramount‘s 80 for Brady took seventh and eighth place, respectively with less than $2 million each. The latter is slightly ahead with a domestic gross of $26.5 million to Knock‘s $34 million.
Bleecker Street expanded the biopic, Emily, into 579 theaters, but it only made $405,000 or $700 per theater average. It has grossed $466,181 so far.
Super Ltd. released the International Feature Oscar nominee The Quiet Girl from Ireland into six theaters in New York, L.A., Chicago and San Francisco where it brought in $60,000 or $10,000 per theater.
This weekend last year saw two moderate releases trying to take on a lot of stronger returning movies. Sony‘s Uncharted remained atop the box office with $29.1 million ($89.3 million total), followed by United Artist Releasing‘s Dog, starring Channing Tatum, with $13.2 million and $34 million total. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Jackass Forever, and Sing 2 continued their strong showings in the top 10.
The new movie opening in the most theaters was the Foo Fighters horror movie, Studio 666, which Open Road opened in 2,306 theaters where it made less than $2 million to open in eighth place.
It fared better than Joe Wright‘s musical Cyrano, starring Peter Dinklage in the title role, which absolutely bombed with even less than Studio 666 but in only 797 theaters, making it last year’s Women Talking for MGM/United Artists although only getting a single Oscar for costumes, vs. Women Talking‘s two nominations. Ouch.
As mentioned above, March kicks off a full month of back-to-back franchise sequels, beginning this Friday with MGM‘s Creed III, the third spin-off from Sylvester Stallone‘s hugely-popular Rocky franchise with Michael B. Jordan returning as Adonis Creed and also making his directorial debut. This time, Creed has a new frenemy in Jonathan Majors‘ Damian Anderson, which raises the stakes but also gives Jordan a terrific up-and-coming actor to face off with and eventually fight in the ring.
Of course, Tessa Thompson is back as Creed’s love interest, Bianca, and Phylicia Rashad as his mother, but the focus really is on Jordan and Majors. Majors is coming off his introduction to the MCU as Kang the Conqueror, which will have him as a major player in some of the biggest movies (and a few shows) over the next few years. Majors also gave an unbelievable performance in the Sundance film, Magazine Dreams, which has also helped increase his Q-rating for the start of 2023.
The 2015 Creed paired with Jordan with Sylvester Stallone, the primary creative force of the Rocky franchise for forty years, and Jordan’s Fruitvale Station and Black Panther director, Ryan Coogler, who has remained on as a producer and writer for the third movie. Creed opened with $42.1 million over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday that year and grossed $109.7 million domestically. Three years later, Creed II opened with $56 million over that Thanksgiving and grossed $115.7 million total.
Although Stallone is only involved as a producer this time, the baton has been passed, and reviews for Creed III have been great so far, making one think there’s as much excitement for the third movie as there was for its sequel. United Artists is opening Creed III in over 3,700 theaters and without having to spread opening business over a five-day holiday, there’s very little reason why Jordan’s directorial debut shouldn’t open with more than $40 million.
This week’s Crunchyroll anime offering is Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village, which is being released into roughly 1,700 theaters on Friday. The previous Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train opened in April 2021 in just 1,605 theaters and managed to defeat Warners’ Mortal Kombat reboot by $23.2 million to $22.8 million in half as many theaters. That’s not something that should quickly be forgotten when realizing that movie theaters had just reopened.
Since taking over distributor FUNimation, Crunchyroll has been able to get their anime films into more theaters, most noticeable the 3,000 theaters for last year’s Dragon Ball Super: Superhero, which opened with $21.1 million last August. Both those movies had previews alone in the $3 to 4 million range, although this Demon Slayer seems to be skipping previews. With Cocaine Bear and Jesus Revolution both doing better than expected, this one might end up closer to fourth place with $10 to 11 million.
Filmmaker Guy Ritchie returns with his first movie since 2021’s Wrath of Man, starring his long-time collaborator, actor Jason Statham. Their previous movie was released so early in the period when movie theaters were reopening during the pandemic that its $8.3 million opening and $27.5 million domestic gross should be seen as quite an achievement. Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre reteams Ritchie with Statham, joined by Aubrey Plaza, Hugh Grant, Cary Elwes, and Josh Hartnett (who also appeared in Wrath of Man).
Lionsgate is releasing this action-comedy into 2,000 theaters on Friday, but what’s weird about this one is that it looks a lot like last year’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, starring Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal, also released by Lionsgate, which only opened with $7.1 million in 3,000 theaters. Even weirder (besides Operation Fortune‘s awful and unnecessary subtitle) is the fact that Ritchie’s movie already opened in over 40 other countries before Lionsgate announced its North America release a couple weeks back. It will be surprising if Ritchie’s latest opens with more than $5 million and sixth place, if no other reason than its last-minute release and how it’s likely to be available to watch via torrent sites already.
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.