The month of franchise sequels continues with yet another relative hit in terms of a franchise having its biggest opening to date, and this is despite it being Oscars weekend.
This Past Weekend
Paramount Pictures had another good weekend, partnering with Spyglass Media Group, for the release of Scream VI into 3,675 theaters after receiving mostly positive reviews – 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, about on par with the 2022 “requel.” Bringing back Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Courteney Cox, and others from that movie, Scream VI introduced new characters played by Dermot Mulroney, Jack Champion (Avatar: The Way of Water) and Liana Liberato. Once again directed by filmmaking collective, Radio Silence, Scream VI made $5.7 million in Thursday previews, which was combined into its Friday take of $19.3 million with an estimated $44.5 million for the weekend.
Audiences seemed to enjoy it as much or more than critics – Above the Line‘s Isaac Feldberg loathed it – with the franchise sequel receiving a “B+” on audience polling site, CinemaScore, the same score as the previous movie, which opened with $30 million and grossed $81.6 million in North America. Scream VI‘s $44.5 million makes it the biggest opening for the entire “Scream” franchise, surpassing the $34.7 million opening for Scream 3 in 2000.
After becoming the highest opening movie in the “Rocky” franchise, Creed III, starring and directed by Michael B. Jordan with Jonathan Majors facing him in the ring, dropped to second place with $27.1 million, down 54% from its own record opening weekend. It crossed the $100 million mark in just ten days with $101.3 million grossed in North America alone.
The Sony sci-fi thriller, 65, starring Adam Driver, came into the weekend with very few reviews, as the studio decided not to screen for film critics in advance, yet it still racked up a measly 36% on Rotten Tomatoes from those that did make an effort to see it. Even so, it ended up surpassing the tracking with an estimated $12.3 million for the weekend in 3.405 theaters or $3,612 per location. It’s unclear whether audiences liked the movie more than critics, since its “C+” CinemaScore was not readily available.
Marvel‘s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania dropped to fourth place with $7 million (down 45%) for a four-week total just under $200 million, while Universal‘s Cocaine Bear took fifth place with $6.2 million (down 44%) with $51.7 million grossed in North America so far.
Woody Harrelson starred in Bobby Farrelly’s basketball comedy, Champions, which had Harrelson coaching a team of adults with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities), and Focus Features gave it a wide release into 3,028 theaters on Friday. Despite mixed reviews from the critics, it was able to make an estimated $5.2 million – $1,717 per venue – which puts it into sixth place. It received much more support from audiences with an “A” CinemaScore.
Giving it some serious competition for sixth place was Lionsgate’s faith-based drama, Jesus Revolution, which reported just below $5.2 million for its third weekend to take seventh place, down 39% from last weekend. It has grossed $39.5 million so far, which isn’t bad.
James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water took eighth place with $2.7 million, which was enough for it to surpass Titanic’s lifetime record with $674.7 million grossed thus far.
Last week’s other two new movies, Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village and Guy Ritchie’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre had massive drop-offs with the former dropping to ninth place with $1.9 million (down 81%) and the latter ending up outside the top 10 with just $1.3 million (down 59%).
(Note: With the Oscars on Sunday night, the early estimates above and below may be sligthly off, depending on how many more people watch this year than expected.)
Warner Bros’ The Batman continued its box office dominance with a second weekend of $66.5 million, down 50% from its opening weekend, but bringing its domestic total up to $239 million. It would remain the #1 movie of last year for at least a few more months before Marvel released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Paramount released Top Gun: Maverick.
Second place went to Sony’s Uncharted with $9.2 million, as it crossed the $100 million mark with $113.4 million, making it seem like the downturn due to Omicron was officially over.
And yet, there was only one new wide release, and it was a one-night only Trafalgar Releasing movie, BTS: Permission to Dance on Stage Seoul, which made $6.8 million in 800 theaters, enough for it to take third place that weekend.
Just a few weeks before RRR would begin to take the country by storm, the Bollywood film, Radhe Shyam, was released into 800 theaters where it made $1.8 million, enough to open in seventh place.
Just a few weeks after Marvel released Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, we get our second superhero movie of the year, this time from Warner Bros./DC Entertainment with the sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, once again starring Zachary Levi and directed by David F. Sandberg (the latter who we’ll have an interview with on Above the Line this week).
The sequel introduces the Daughters of Atlas, as played by Dame Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), who face off against “Shazam!” (he actually isn’t called that in the movie) and the “Shazam! Family” (ditto), as Sandberg has created a superhero sequel that’s definitely bigger than the previous movie with more focus on Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman, and some of his fellow orphans as grown-up heroes, played by Adam Brody, Meagan Good, and others.
The original Shazam! Opened in April 2019 with $53.5 million and made $140.3 million just in North America, and another $223.2 million overseas. That isn’t exactly “Marvel money,” but it wasn’t bad for a DC hero who really hadn’t been seen in much media at least going back to the Saturday morning TV series of the ‘70s.
Unfortunately, for the sequel, there definitely seems to be a bit of superhero ennui going on, due to the abundance of comic book movies being released. Dwayne Johnson‘s 2022 movie, Black Adam – essentially, the arch-foe of “Shazam!” (or whatever you want to call him) – may have suffered for it, despite opening with $67 million and grossing $168.1 million total. There’s also some uncertainty whether the Shazam! sequel or Levi’s character will play any part in James Gunn‘s rebooted DC Studios line-up.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods would normally be shooting for somewhere between those numbers, but if there is indeed a comic book movie backlash, it’s more likely to end up in the mid-to-high $40 million its opening weekend. (It certainly won’t be helped by opening after two big franchise releases with another big movie opening next weekend.)
Also, Roadside Attractions is releasing Paul Weitz’s new dramedy, Moving On, this weekend. Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell, and the original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, it’s being released nationwide into an unspecified number of theaters, but probably around 800 or so. Fonda and Tomlin play two old friends who reconnect at the funeral of a third friend with plans to kill her widower (McDowell) due to how he messed with them years earlier.
The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with fairly decent reviews, and Fonda and Tomlin have been doing the talk show circuit to promote the movie, which will be targeting that elusive but underserved over-50 crowd, who seemingly vanished entirely from theaters during the pandemic. It might just be able to sneak into the top 10 with around $1.5 million, helped by the success of the main duo’s 80 for Brady just one month ago.
Willem Dafoe stars in the thriller, Inside, from Greek filmmaker Vasilis Katsoupis, which just debuted at Berlinale and which Focus Features will open in roughly 300 theaters this weekend. In the movie, Dafoe plays Nemo, an art burglar, who gets stranded in a luxury high-rise apartment when the alarms go off, and it’s a terrific spotlight for the multiple Oscar nominee. Whether or not it can do better in theaters than other Focus releases like the recent Of an Age is another story. (Look for my interview with Katsoupis right here on Above the Line very soon.)
China’s Full River Red, from Zhang Yimou (Hero) will get a North American release into 150 theaters by Niu Vision Media after grossing $181,000 in Hong Kong last weekend. It will be a good test for the Chinese-American market to see if word-of-mouth will translate into it breaking into the low-end of the Top 10 despite its limited release.
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.