It’s hard to determine if there’s some summer movie burnout happening already, just because June started with such a huge hit (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse), and everything else just seems to be getting by. This weekend saw two movies that would normally be massive hits at any other time do so poorly, one has to wonder whether moviegoers are just getting finickier.
This Past Weekend
Going into the weekend, Warner Bros‘ The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti (It), had its share of problems, including multiple delays and the behavior of its lead actor, Ezra Miller, but with relatively decent reviews – Above the Line‘s Isaac Feldberg hated it – and a strong marketing campaign that kept pushing the return of Michael Keaton‘s Batman and the new Supergirl, played by Sasha Calle, it seemed like the movie might fare okay.
That was not to be the case, and with $9.7 million from Thursday previews, The Flash opened in 4,232 theaters on Friday for an opening day of $24.5 million, which led to an estimated three-day opening weekend of $55.1 million with $64 million projected including the Juneteenth Monday. For comparison, Dwayne Johnson‘s Black Adam made $67 million over a three-day weekend last October with no Batman.
One story that might be important to note is that the movie received a fairy poor “B” rating on the CinemaScore audience polling site, the same as Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania earlier in the year. That movie opened with $107 million but had a 70 percent drop in its second weekend, and Warner Bros. must be somewhat concerned that one of its major tentpoles might follow suit.
The Flash did better overseas with $75 million in 78 markets for a global opening of $139 million through Sunday. Still, it was #1 in 54 of those markets, with China accounting for $13.8 million, Mexico bringing in $9.4 million, and the Middle East bringing in $3.7 million for the Eid holiday weekend.
Disney and Pixar Animation have had a long and fruitful union, which hit a bit of a snag with COVID when a number of Pixar movies were sent straight to the Disney+ streamer with negligible theatrical releases. Last year’s Lightyear (which you can read more about below) was an attempt to get Pixar movies back in theaters, and compared to this week’s Elemental, that would be considered a hit.
Released into 4,035 theaters with very little star power among its voice cast, Elemental brought in a dismal $2.4 million from Thursday previous with $11.8 million on Friday, which added up to an estimated $29.5 million three-day gross. With its Monday estimate, its four-day weekend is estimated at $33.3 million. That’s worse than the $39 million opening for director Peter Sohn‘s previous film, The Good Dinosaur, as well as the 2020 Pixar release, Onward, which was deeply affected by the coming of the COVID pandemic. Audiences definitely liked it better than Lightyear and Onward going by its “A” CinemaScore (vs. the “A-” those other two movies garnered.)
Elemental made another $15 million overseas, with $5.2 million from China and $3.2 million in South Korea, but that still only adds up to a $44.5 million global opening through Sunday.
Although Sony‘s animated sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been doing very well, it had nearly a 50 percent drop this weekend to third place with $27.8 million, bringing its domestic total to $280.4 million, making it the third-highest domestic grosser for the year. Spider-Verse is estimated to gross $32.4 million over the extended holiday weekend, which puts it so close behind Elemental, it’s likely to pull ahead next weekend. The animated feature is also doing quite well overseas, adding another $27.6 million internationally this weekend for an international total of $209 million and a global total (through Sunday) of $289.3 million.
Paramount‘s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts had a far bigger drop in its second weekend, down 67 percent to fourth place with $20 million, as it has just managed to cross $100 million in its second weekend. It’s estimated to add another $3 million on Monday.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid could definitely be considered a hit for the studio, but it also took a 50 percent drop to fifth place in its fourth weekend for a three-day weekend of $11.6 million, with $13.3 million estimated for the four-day weekend. It will have grossed roughly $255.3 million through Monday based on those estimates. Overseas, The Little Mermaid added $15.3 million this weekend with a global total of $466 million through Sunday.
Director Tim Story‘s horror-comedy, The Blackening, opened in 1,775 theaters over the weekend, Lionsgate having picked it up after its premiere at the Toronto Interanational Film Festival last September. It ended up making just $6 million over the three-day weekend with $7 million including Monday, which isn’t terrible though its “B+” CinemaScore doesn’t show any potential for strong word-of-mouth.
Possibly one of the bright spots for the weekend was that Focus Features released Wes Anderson‘s latest ensemble comedy, Asteroid City, into six theaters in New York and L.A. where it continued Anderson’s long-standing tradition of having huge platform releases in major cities. That was the case here with Asteroid City bringing in an estimated $790,000 over the three-day weekend, a remarkable per-theater average of $131,666 per venue. (Below, you can read more about how Asteroid City might fare in wider release this coming weekend.)
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||The Flash||Warner Bros.||$55,700,000||4,234||$55,700,000|
|3||Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse||Sony Pictures||$27,275,000||3,873||$279,858,000|
|4||Transformers: Rise of the Beasts||Paramount Pictures||$20,700,000||3,680||$101,322,000|
|5||The Little Mermaid||Walt Disney||$11,600,000||3,480||$253,559,129|
|6||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3||Walt Disney||$5,000,000||2,260||$344,360,355|
|7||The Boogeyman||20th Century Studios||$3,800,000||2,140||$32,767,747|
|10||The Super Mario Bros. Movie||Universal||$650,000||896||$572,110,000|
Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion remained the #1 movie for a second weekend in a row with $59.1 million, down 59 percent, as it brought its domestic total up to $250.3 million.
Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story spin-off/prequel, Lightyear, opened in 4,255 theaters with $50.6 million, roughly $11,887 per theater, to take second place, which was seen as a major disappointment considering what a huge box office success the franchise had seen both during Pixar’s earlier days and more recently.
Tom Cruise‘s Top Gun: Maverick dropped to third place with a minimal 14 percent drop for $44.6 million to bring its total to $466 million, followed way back in fourth place by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with $4.44 million (down just 15 percent) as it crossed the $400 million mark domestically.
This is a weaker weekend in terms of new releases with the widest new release being the raunchy R-rated comedy, No Hard Feelings, starring Jennifer Lawrence, the Oscar-winning actresses’ widest release since 2019’s Dark Phoenix, which bombed badly with a domestic total of just $65.8 million. It’s been even longer since Lawrence has done a comedy (most likely David O. Russell‘s Joy, though some might find Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! Inadvertently funny) with No Hard Feelings being the new movie from filmmaker Gene Stupnitsky (Good Boys, Bad Teacher), co-written by John Phillips.
Although the cast includes Matthew Broderick and Natalie Morales in smaller roles, this is all about Lawrence’s return, although there probably won’t be much in terms of reviews until Wednesday morning with very little buzz generated despite previews this past Saturday.
While there’s certainly room for an R-rated comedy to do well as counter-programming, it’s quite unclear who this one is meant for – Lawrence’s 20-to-30 something female crowd from The Hunger Games or teen and older guys? Because of this, No Hard Feelings probably won’t make more than $11 to 13 million this weekend, which would have it opening in fourth place between Elemental and Transformers.
The Flash will remain #1 but expect a fairly large second weekend drop, so it will likely win the weekend with $25 million or less.
The second-biggest release of the weekend is the nationwide expansion of Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City by Focus Features into roughly 1,500 theaters, after an astounding platform release this weekend. There’s no question that a big draw for Anderson’s movies (besides his inimitable style of storytelling and filmmaking), is his casts. Many of his regulars are back, but they’re joined by some real heavyweights, including Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Margot Robbie, and Steve Carell, as well as many returning collaborators, including Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, and more.
Oddly, Asteroid City has not received much better reviews than Anderson’s 2021 movie, The French Dispatch, currently at 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes a month after its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May. (You can read Isaac Feldberg‘s glowing review here.)
Anderson’s highest-grossing movie is still 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel with $59.1 million, which also won four Oscars, but despite the huge platform release, Asteroid City is making a much quicker leap to nationwide release than that did. Grand Budapest opened with $811,000 in four theaters, which was generally better than Asteroid City, but the quicker expansion might help Anderson’s latest make between $7 and 9 million in its wide release, which should release to a domestic take of $22 to 25 million, better than The French Dispatch‘s $16.1 million.
Also, A24 plans to expand Celine Song‘s highly-regarded and deeply personal drama, Past Lives, into a vaguer number of theaters presumably nationwide, but likely 600 to 800 theaters, which should help it make between $2 to 3 million this weekend after a limited release that has racked up $1.5 million in fewer than 100 theaters. Of course, A24 could choose to keep it more moderate for a fewer more weeks, but it’s going to have tougher competition for screens nationwide the longer it waits.
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.