One of the best months at the box office since the pandemic came to a close with the fifth movie in a row to open with more than $30 million.
This Past Weekend
Paramount Pictures has been having a particularly good March, first with the success of Scream VI, which is close to approaching $100 million, but now, also with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a new version of the popular roleplaying game starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Regé-Jean Page, and more. Paramount debuted it at the SXSW Film Festival, where it was quite well-received, racking up positive reviews with 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Paramount also gave the movie early preview screenings to drum up word-of-mouth and including the normal Thursday previews, that allowed Honor Among Thieves to make $5.5 million before its official Friday opening in 3,855 theaters.
Paramount reported a $15.3 million opening day (including that $5.5 million) with an estimated $38.5 million for the movie’s first weekend. The movie’s “A-” CinemaScore may be behind the rating for John Wick: Chapter 4 but generally confirms that audiences like the movie, unlike the 2000 bomb, which only made $33.8 million worldwide in its entire run.
D&D added another $33 million overseas in 60 territories, adding up to a $71.5 million global opening. Not bad, but still less than half the movie’s reported $150 million production budget.
Despite a franchise record opening last weekend, Lionsgate‘s John Wick: Chapter 4, starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Chad Stahelski, fell 62 percent to second place with $28.2 million. That also allowed it to cross the $100 million mark in less than ten days with $122.9 million grossed in North America so far. It made another $35 million overseas this weekend in 75 territories for a global total of $244.9 million.
Angel Studios got into the distribution biz by releasing the Biblical epic, His Only Son (telling the story of Abraham and Isaac), into 1,920 theaters, and it pulled out a surprise victory with $5.3 million, averaging $2,760 per theater. That was enough to take third place, but based on estimates, it was tied with Paramount’s Scream VI also with $5.3 million, down just 36 percent from last weekend. (UPDATE: Based on actual reported box office, His Only Son did end up taking third place with $5.5 million — see updated chart below.) There’s little question that Paramount’s reboot of the franchise has proven successful in bringing in new and younger moviegoers, so expect a seventh movie to be greenlit and announced very soon. In the meantime, His Only Son is the second faith-based film in a row to receive an “A” CinemaScore, so it’s likely to hold up well over Easter weekend next week.
Michael B. Jordan‘s Creed III took fifth place with $5 million, down 39 percent with a North American gross of $148.6 million, which makes it the highest-grossing movie in the entire “Rocky” franchise, not accounting for inflation.
Warner Bros continues to see poor returns for its own franchise sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, starring Zachary Levi, which took another third weekend plunge, down 49 percent to sixth place (from second place last weekend) with $4.7 million. It has grossed $53.6 million, which is still less than how well the original Shazam! opened in April 2019. It hasn’t been helped much overseas, since that money only brings the movie’s global total to $119 million, and it’s already scheduled to hit VOD in roughly two weeks, so it’s not likely to make back its $125 million production budget in theaters.
Focus Features released A.V. Rockwell‘s Sundance Grand Jury prize-winning drama, A Thousand and One, into 926 theaters on Friday where it made $1.8 million or $1,944 per theater, which isn’t great but was enough for it to open in seventh place.
MGM expanded Zach Braff‘s A Good Person into just 687 theaters from last week’s weak opening in 530 theaters, but it didn’t help much, as it had a 39 percent drop to $510,000 for its second weekend and a total of $1.7 million.
Other limited releases this weekend included Welcome Villain Films‘ indie horror film, Malum, which opened in 249 theaters with an estimated $221,738 (roughly $891 per theater), and NEON‘s own horror film, Enys Men, which opened with $71,200 in 62 theaters or $1,148 per theater.
As of yet, the Neil Bogart biopic, Spinning Gold, has not reported any weekend box office.
After an insane amount of delays – to be fair, most of them were due to COVID – Sony finally released Morbius, starring Jared Leto, over two years after the debut of the first trailer for it. Despite being a tangential Spider-Man character with very poor reviews, the movie still opened in first place with $39 million in 4,268 or $9,139 per theater.
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum‘s comedy adventure, The Lost City, dropped to second place with $14.7 million, down 52 percent from its opening weekend.
After five weeks, Warner Bros‘ The Batman continued to do well with $11 million, down 46 percent from the previous week but with a domestic total of $349.2 million.
Coincidentally, Chris Pine also had a movie out this weekend last year as Paramount released his political thriller, The Contractor, into 489 theaters. With so little promotion, it ended up outside the top 10 with $560,678 or $1,146 per theater.
It’s Easter weekend, and two of the three new wide releases are kicking things off with a Wednesday opening, maybe in hopes of drumming up word-of-mouth for the actual weekend.
Universal gets the widest release of the weekend with The Super Mario Bros. Movie, a new animated movie produced by Illumination Entertainment, based on the popular video games that have thrived for four decades, finding new and younger fans with each new release. It’s directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic of the popular Teen Titans Go! Cartoon series and movie, and it features a voice cast including Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Jack Black as Bowzer, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, and many more.
The history of video game movies, both good and bad, has been fairly well documented, but Super Mario Bros. is going to benefit from being the first major family-friendly animated movie since Uni released Puss in Boots: The Last Wish back before Christmas. That movie ended up sticking around for a long time in theaters, even after hitting VOD, because parents with kids were looking for things to get them out of the house.
Super Mario Bros. has the benefit of being based on a game that’s fairly well known among boys, girls, parents, as well as those who grew up on it, so it’s quite a rare four-quadrant movie in every sense of the term. Reviews won’t hit until sometime on Tuesday, but this may very well be review-proof, because even those old enough to know better are likely to be curious.
Opening on Wednesday (with screenings starting at 12:01 AM no less), Super Mario Bros. might still see a lot of its younger business geared towards the weekend, particularly Good Friday, when most people will be off from work and schools are out. Expect The Super Mario Bros. Movie to make maybe $9 to 10 million on Wednesday and Thursday but then explode on Friday, which should catapult its opening weekend into the $70 million range with $90 million or more grossed by Sunday. With many schools going into spring break, don’t be too surprised if Super Mario Bros. joins last year’s Minions: The Rise of Gru in the $300 million club, because there’s very little else for kids to watch over the coming weeks.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Ben Affleck returns behind the camera for Air, his first movie as a director since 2016’s disappointing Live By Night. This one is from Amazon Studios and is being distributed by MGM with a release into over 3,300 theaters on Wednesday. The movie stars Affleck’s long-time collaborator Matt Damon as Nike basketball talent scout Sonny Vaccaro, who is keen on signing 18-year-old Michael Jordan to endorse their sneakers, at a time when Nike had the lowest market share at the time.
Affleck’s amazing cast includes Viola Davis as Jordan’s mother, as well as Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, a very rare film appearance by Chris Tucker, as well as Affleck himself playing Nike CEO Phil Knight.
There are a number of factors whether the mostly male target audience for this movie might turn out to see it in theaters, the first being Affleck’s popularity as a director but also the continued interest in Jordan’s career and the twist AIR brings to the overly-staid biopic genre by telling the lesser-known story from Vaccaro’s POV.
On the other hand, we should remember that Affleck and Damon last appeared in 2021’s The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott, and that bombed quite badly. AIR will benefit from being a much more recent true story that has already received rave reviews from the SXSW Film Festival, and that could help the movie make somewhere between $10 to 12 million in its first five days with $7 to 10 million of that over the three-day Easter weekend.
IFC Films will release the comedy Paint, starring Owen Wilson as a Bob Ross-like public television painter, into an unknown number of theaters on Friday, but it’s likely to be in the 800 to 1,000 range, which might be enough for to get it into the Top 10 with around $2.5 million.
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 more.
Box Office Breakdown will be posted each week by Monday morning. You can read other features by Edward Douglas over at Below the Line and Above the Line.