One would think that the summer movie season finally being here would allow more movies to do decent business, but so far, that just isn’t to be. Instead, Marvel Studios‘ Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 dominated for a second weekend in a row with a smaller drop-off than other recent superhero movies.
This Past Weekend
James Gunn had been all over social media in the past week since Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 opened with what some consider a disappointing $118.4 million, even though that was better than February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Guardians made $15.7 million in its second Friday, down 68 percent from its opening Friday, although that also included earlier previews. Even so, Disney has reported an estimated $60.5 million for the weekend, which is down just 49 percent from its opening weekend. That’s the smallest second weekend drop-off for a Marvel movie in quite some time, at least from before the pandemic, which shows strong word-of-mouth despite the weaker opening (compared to Vol. 2). (UPDATE: According to updated numbers from Disney, Guardians Vol. 3 has made $62 million in its second weekend, a drop of 48 percent, which is the second-best second weekend drop for a Marvel movie ever.)
Globally, the movie has crossed the $500 million mark in less than two weeks with another $91.9 million grossed overseas this weekend to bring its international total to $315.6 million and global cume to $528.8 million.
Universal‘s animated blockbuster The Super Mario Bros. Movie continues to dominate family business otherwise with another $13 million (down 30 percent) in its sixth weekend with $536 million grossed nationwide since Easter weekend. That’s enough to move past Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight” to become the 15th-highest grossing movie in North America ever. Overseas, the hit Nintendo adaptation has grossed $674.5 million, including another $26.1 million this weekend, for a global total of $1.2 billion.
Things didn’t go so well for any of the new movies with Focus Features‘ comedy sequel, Book Club: The Next Chapter, starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candace Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen, disappointing with just $6.5 million in 3,508 theaters. That’s about half the opening for the original movie, which was released by Paramount Pictures in 2018, as the movie didn’t get the expected Mother’s Day bump on Sunday that other movies received. Reviews weren’t good, and its “B” CinemaScore from audiences wasn’t much better.
New Line‘s horror reboot, Evil Dead Rise, took fourth place with $3.7 million, down 37 percent, to take fourth place and bring its domestic cume to $60.2 million. With another $71.6 million made overseas – $6.7 million this weekend – that brings the movie’s global total $131.8 million, which seems more than profitable enough to consider a sequel to keep the franchise going.
One movie that did benefit from Mothers Day on Sunday was Lionsgate‘s adaptation of Judy Blume‘s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which took fourth place with $2.5 million, down just 23 percent from last weekend despite losing almost 1,000 theaters. (Above the Line will have an interview with filmmaker Kelly Fremon Craig sometime this week.)
Sixth place went to Robert Rodriguez‘s sci-fi thriller Hypnotic, starring Ben Affleck, which the enigmatic Ketchup Entertainment released into 2,118 theaters, but it ended up making just $2.4 million or $1,114 per theaters. Critics hated the movie and audiences felt similarly, going by its terrible “C+” CinemaScore.
Seventh place went to Chad Stahelski‘s John Wick: Chapter 4, starring Keanu Reeves, the only other movie in theaters that just can’t be stopped, it adding another $1.7 million this weekend (down 18 percent) to bring its domestic total to $184 million. Even if that ends up being the end of the main franchise, Lionsgate and the filmmakers have plenty of spin-offs planned including next year’s Ballerina, starring Oscar nominee Ana de Armas.
The rest of the top 10 is mostly irrelevant, although the best-reviewed movie of the weekend had to be Matt Johnson‘s Blackberry, co-starring Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton from the long-running series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. IFC Films released the real-life dramedy into 450 theaters on Friday where it made an estimated $473,000, but that didn’t include Canadian theaters, where distributor Elevation Pictures could account for another $267,000 in an unreported number of theaters.
Howerton’s Sunny co-star Charlie Day didn’t do as well with his directorial debut, the star-studded inside Hollywood comedy, Fool’s Paradise, which Roadside Attractions released into 784 theaters with Day unable (or unwilling) to do interviews in solidarity with the writers strike. Because of this (and also, because the movie is very bad), the movie tanked with just $443,140 or $565 per theater.
Sony Pictures‘ latest “We don’t give a crap, so why should you?” release was the anime adaptation, Knights of the Zodiac, released into 586 theaters with very little fanfare, ending up outside the top 10 with $535,000 or $912 per theater.
As far as the weekend’s limited releases, the Yogi Berra doc, It Ain’t Over, released by Sony Pictures Classics into 99 theaters, did the best with $106,000, while IFC’s indie drama Monica and Bleecker Street‘s Sundance fave, The Starling Girl, both ended up within the $25 to 26,000 range in two and four theaters respectively in New York and L.A.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness enjoyed its third weekend in first place with $32.3 million, down 48 percent from the previous week with $342.8 million grossed so far. It would go on to become the third highest-grossing movie of 2022, but it was soon to face a massive and unstoppable juggernaut.
The biggest new movie of the weekend was Focus Features‘ release of the sequel Downton Abbey: A New Era into 3,820 theaters, where it grossed $16 million or $4,189 per theater. It reunited the entire cast of the hit PBS series again, but that was nearly half the opening of the previous movie in 2019. Sure, one could blame the pandemic and how adult-oriented dramas hadn’t recovered (and maybe they still haven’t), but that was just a year before Focus inherited the sequel to Book Club to also not do as well as its predecessor.
A24 opened Alex Garland‘s horror film, Men, starring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear into 2,212 theaters nationwide, where it made 3.3 million, enough to take sixth place with an average $1,489 per theater.
The family films, The Bad Guys and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, filled in the top 10 with $6.1 million for third place and $4.1 million for fifth, respectively, but the latter had already grossed over $100 million more than the former, another big hit for Paramount.
In the summer movie season’s third weekend, we get our next franchise installment. In this case, it’s the tenth chapter of a series that began way back in 2001 and will soon wrap up with one final movie. No, wait, Vin Diesel just said last week that the planned two-part finale for the Fast and Furious franchise will now be a three-parter that will make it twelve movies total. I know you play a street racer, Vin, but maybe you should slow your roll, and see how Fast X does this weekend first, because I can guarantee you that Universal will be doing just that.
Director Justin Lin returned for 2021’s F9, but then left the production, rather than completing the franchise as planned, and he was replaced by Louis Letterier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans), who Above the Line will have an interview with this coming week.
Otherwise, Diesel is joined by almost the entire cast of previous movies other than a few actors (but even some of them have been rumored to be returning before the next movie). That cast is joined by Jason Momoa, as the “family’s” newest villain, Danté Reyes, the son of the government official who died Fast Five, as well as Brie Larson as the daughter of Kurt Russell‘s Nobody from a few installments back. Oscar-winning actor Rita Moreno also shows up as Dom Torreto’s mother.
F9 opened with $70 million just a few months after theaters reopened post-pandemic, and that was the lowest opening for the franchise since 2009’s Fast and Furious, which brought back Diesel and the late Paul Walker. For 2011’s Fast Five, Lin brought on board Dwayne Johnson, who has played a large part in the success of the next few installments of the franchise, although the Hobbs and Shaw spin-off he co-led with Jason Statham only opened with $60 million before Johnson left the franchise in a well-documented feud with Diesel.
Early reactions to the film have been mixed at best, and in general, there may be as much or more fatigue to this franchise than there has been towards superheroes, which will definitely affect the domestic opening for a movie. Reviews won’t hit until Wednesday, so maybe Universal will be able to sell a boatload of tickets before they do.
Sure, Fast X won’t have a problem winning the weekend, but it might end up being with somewhere between $60 and 70 million vs. the $90 million plus openings the franchise has achieved in the past. Because of this, Universal will likely be relying on international more for this one than previous installments.
IFC Films will likely expand its indie drama, Monica, wider, as will Bleecker Street with Laurel Parmet‘s The Starling Girl, although we probably shouldn’t expect much traction for either of them based on their limited releases this past weekend.
A few limited releases of note include Zachary Wigon‘s Sanctuary, starring Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and the sci-fi romcom, Robots, starring Jack Whitehall and Shailene Woodley – both of those from Neon – while Paul Schrader‘s latest, Master Gardener, which debuted at Cannes in 2022, will get a limited release from Magnolia Pictures.
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.