So far, March has seen two sequels sporting record openings for their respective franchises. Unfortunately, for Warner Bros. Discovery, that trend came crashing to a halt this weekend with their own superhero sequel.
This Past Weekend
Despite being the sequel to a fairly well-received 2019 superhero movie, the New Line superhero sequel, Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, was the first sequel of this month to underperform from earlier tracking expectations. The movie received mixed-to-negative reviews with 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes after early reports that it was tracking to open lower than the $53.5 opening for Shazam! in 2019.
Director David F. Sandberg was back behind the camera with Zachary Levi returning as the title character, and most of the ancillary cast, joined by Dame Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) as the titular angry goddesses.
Despite the generally-liked previous movie, Fury of the Gods only made $3.4 million in Thursday previews and $11.7 million in its first full opening day in 4,071 theaters. It would then end up with an estimated $30.5 million for the weekend, or $7,492 per location. That was enough to take first place, but it’s even lower than last year’s long-delayed Morbius made in its opening weekend, and it puts into question DC’s other 2023 releases – The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – all of which are being removed from the overarching DC Extended Universe by incoming DC chiefs, James Gunn and Peter Safran. Ironically, Safran is producer on two of those upcoming movies, and he cannot be happy about the treatment received by Fury of the Gods, but who is to blame for that one? NCAA March Madness began on Friday, which
Fury of the Gods made another $35 million overseas in 77 markets, led by China with just $4.4 million on over 20,000 screens. That $65.5 million global opening is also nothing to write home about… even with a magical pen named Steve. (That’s a nod to those who actually went to see the movie.)
Audiences that went out to see the movie generally seemed to like it, with it boasting a “B+” CinemaScore, which is on par with October’s Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson, but that’s far behind the “A” CinemaScore received by the original movie.
Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment’s Scream VI dropped to second place with $17.5 million, down 61 percent from its opening weekend but with $76 million grossed domestically in its first ten days. That’s almost as much as its 2022 Scream predecessor made in total, so there’s no denying that we’ll be seeing more of Ghostface in the near future.
Michael B. Jordan should be quite proud of his directorial debut, Creed III, which took third place this weekend with $15.4 million, a 43 percent drop in its third weekend with a running domestic total of $127.7 million. That amount has allowed it to surpass both previous Creed movies, as well as all but one of the original Rocky movies (not accounting for inflation and rising ticket prices since the ’70s and ’80s). Creed III added another $12 million overseas, for a global total of $224.3 million. France and the UK are the top international markets, so far, with $15 and $14 million grossed in those countries.
The Adam Driver sci-fi thriller 65 from Sony took an expected 53 percent tumble to fourth place with $5.8 million in its second weekend and a domestic cume of $22.4 million.
Marvel Studios’ first movie of 2023, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, took fifth place with roughly $4 million, having crossed the $200 million mark this week with $205.8 million grossed through Sunday. It’s close to surpassing 2018’s predecessor, but that’s still a drop in the bucket compared to Marvel’s 2022 output.
Universal’s Cocaine Bear took sixth place with $3.9 million, down 38 percent, in 2,950 theaters, and $58.5 million grossed in North America so far.
That was followed by Lionsgate’s Jesus Revolution with $3.5 million (down 32 percent) as the faith-based drama remained in seventh place with $45.5 million total.
Roadside Attractions opened Paul Weitz’s comedy, Moving On, starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, into 794 theaters where it seemed to get into the top 10 with an estimated $2 million or $2,519 per theater. (CORRECTION: The source for our weekend estimate was incorrect. The correct studio estimate is $797,735 or $1,000 per theater.) The movie was clearly helped by the success of Paramount’s 80 for Brady earlier this year, which also starred the two legendary actors.
Also, four-time Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe starred in the thriller, Inside, which Focus Features released into 357 theaters on Friday. Directed by Greek filmmaker Vasilis Katsoupis (who we’ll have an interview with this week), the movie took in an estimated $470k or $1,317 average per location.
Music Box Films released Louis Garrel’s French film, The Innocent, into a single theater, New York’s IFC Center, on Friday where it brought in $11,500.
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||Shazam! Fury of the Gods||Warner Bros.||$30,500,000||4,071||$30,500,000|
|2||Scream VI||Paramount Pictures||$17,500,000||3,676||$76,029,000|
|3||Creed III||United Artists||$15,372,838||3,477||$127,699,974|
|5||Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania||Walt Disney||$4,071,000||2,650||$205,833,350|
|9||Avatar: The Way of Water||20th Century Studios||$1,928,000||1,190||$678,114,154|
|10||Puss in Boots: The Last Wish||Universal||$1,510,000||1,735||$182,594,180|
While Matt Reeves’ The Batman continued to reign with another $36.7 million to bring its domestic total over the $300 million mark, a number of other movies opened wide or semi-wide.
The weekend’s big winner had to be FUNimation’s Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie, released into 2,286 theaters, where it made $18 million or $7,875, enough to take second place.
Ti West’s horror film X, starring Mia Goth, Scott Mescudi, Jenna Ortega, and more, received huge praise out of its SXSW debut, but it only opened with $4.3 million in 2,865 theaters to take fourth place, although A24 had already greenlight the prequel, Pearl, also starring Goth, which would be released later in the year.
Mark Rylance and Zoey Deutch starred in the period crime-drama, The Outfit, which Focus Features released into 1,324 theaters, but it only took in $1.5 million to open in eighth place.
That fared better than Sony’s Umma, produced by Sam Raimi, which opened in 805 theaters and bombed with less than a million or about $1,137 per theater.
Despite the disappointing showing for Shazam! this past weekend, March delivers its fifth franchise sequel, John Wick: Chapter Four, once again starring Keanu Reeves as the former mob assassin being chased by other killers with an enormous price on his head.
Once again directed by Chad Stahelski – look for an interview with him on Above the Line soon – this installment takes Wick to Japan and Germany and France, fully making this Reeves’ James Bond franchise, but one where he kills just about everyone he meets.
For this fourth installment, Reeves is joined by new characters played by Bill Skarsgård (It), Hong Kong martial arts superstar Donnie Yen, Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, pop star Rina Sawayama, martial artist Scott Adkins, Shamier Anderson from the recent Hulu drama, Bruiser, and more, as the Wick franchise continues to grow on a worldwide scale. Other characters played by Ian McShane, the late Lance Reddick, and Lawrence Fishburne, also return for the latest chapter.
The John Wick franchise has become one of Lionsgate’s more lucrative recent franchise efforts, with 2019’s John Wick: Chapter 2 – Parabellum opening with $56.8 million, grossing $171 million domestically and $328 million worldwide. That’s in comparison to 2014’s debut John Wick, which made just $43 million total domestic and $76 million worldwide. You could say that the fanbase for the series has been progressively growing as the story has expanded and become more of a worldwide adventure that takes Reeves’ Wick to exotic new locales.
For this one, adding the likes of Skarsgård i.e. Pennywise from New Line’s It movies, last seen in the horror film, Barbarian, and Yen – whose popularity in America grew from his turn in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016 – will bolster fans’ interest. Even so, Reeves has more than held his own with a career that goes back to the mid-80s and has led to hits like the “Bill and Ted” movies and The Matrix Trilogy. Oddly, he returned to both those other franchises very recently; both did terribly, probably since they were released mid-pandemic. (Reeves has also forayed into animation in recent years with hits like Toy Story 4 and last year’s less successful DC League of Super-Pets.)
Opening in over 3,700 theaters, John Wick: Chapter 4 is a big and important movie for Lionsgate, one that can probably make or break its entire year in terms of profits if it doesn’t perform. (The studio’s other major franchise, The Hunger Games, also returns later this year.) Fortunately, it seems like the added anticipation that has built after the movie’s pandemic delays should help it do very well in its move to a March release. Since it’s offering something different from the other movies in theaters, expect the R-Rated John Wick: Chapter Four to blow into theaters with an opening in the $65 million range or possibly even more.
Zach Braff writes and directs the MGM release, A Good Person, starring Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman, a drama about addiction and grief, which allows Ms. Pugh to really flex her dramatic muscles. In the movie, she plays Allison, a young woman driving the car that kills her fiancé’s sister, sending her into a downwards spiral of addiction to pills. When she decides to get help, she ends up in an AA meeting with her former fiancé’s father (Freeman). The movie also stars Molly Shannon, formerly of Saturday Night Live, playing Allison’s mother, and fresher talent like Celeste O’Connor (Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and Chinaza Uche (Dickinson).
At the time of this writing, we don’t have a theater count for this one, but being MGM, it could be anywhere from 4 theaters to 2,000 or more. Even if A Good Person opts to go wide this week – it was originally planned for a slower rollout – it doesn’t seem like many people are aware of the movie’s existence, even though Pugh has a significant younger female crowd, who might not be so keen on the latest John Wick.
Also, IFC Films is releasing Stephen Frears’ The Lost King, the filmmaker’s latest collaboration with Steve Coogan after the Oscar-nominated Philomena. Having opened in the UK last year following its Toronto Film Festival debut, the film stars Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) as Phillipa Langley, a British woman who becomes obsessed with the life of King Richard III after reading about him, and decides to try to uncover his remains, which had been lost for more than 500 years. Presumably, this will get a platform release in New York and L.A., and we’ll have to see how far it goes from there, since it’s more than slightly niche.
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.