We’re midway through the 2023 summer movie season, and it feels like we’ve had just as many outright disappointments as we’ve had hits, maybe moreso. Reporting on the box office this weekend gives me next to no pleasure.
This Past Weekend
Disney and Lucasfilm‘s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny had Harrison Ford returning to his titular adventure for the last time, after racking up nearly $2 billion worldwide over the course of four other movies. It’s been 15 years since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and original director, Steven Spielberg, vacated the director’s seat in favor of Oscar nominee, James Mangold. For this one, Ford was joined by Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Indy’s goddaughter Helena – a better addition to the franchise than his son, played by Shia LaBeouf – with Mads Mikkelsen, Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas, and others joining the cast.
Lucasfilm decided to give the movie a world premiere at Cannes, just like Crystal Skull, and reviews were mixed at best, although they did improve in the months since then to wind up at 68 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Disney opened the anticipated tentpole in a whopping 4,600 theaters on Friday, but after bringing in just $7.2 million in Thursday previews, the movie opened on Friday with $24 million, leading up to a weekend take of $60.4 million. That’s in the general ballpark of a few of the summer’s other franchise installments that didn’t open nearly as well as expected. (More on those below.)
The movie was generally well-received with a Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score of 88% and a “B+” CinemaScore, which could be better, if Disney wants “Dial of Destiny” to have any sorts of legs against the mega-powerhouses opening later in July.
Dial of Destiny grossed another $70 million overseas for a global opening of $130 million, which is not a solid foundation for a movie that should have been one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. The UK was the top overseas market with $8.9 million, followed by France with $5.9 million, and Japan with $4.7 million. Apparently, Germany doesn’t like Nazis either, as it made $4.1 million over there.
UPDATE: Almost every movie was underestimated based on studio estimates on Sunday, and Elemental ended up beating Spider-Verse for second place. The numbers in the chart below are correct and the most current.
Disney and Pixar Animation‘s Elemental, which had its own relatively disappointing opening two weeks ago, dropped to second place with $12.1 million, down 34 percent, to bring its three-week total to $89.6 million. Despite being one of Pixar’s worst showings at the domestic box office, it addend another $29.8 million overseas to bring its global total to $186.8 million.
Sony‘s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which is, in fact, one of the summer’s three bonafide blockbuster hits, dropped to third place after a surprise return to first place last weekend. It made $12 million this weekend, down 37 percent, to bring its domestic total to $340.4 million, still behind the summer’s #1 movie, James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. It has already crossed the $600 million global milestone with $13.8 million grossed overseas this weekend to bring its international total to $267.4 million and global gross to $607.3 million.
Jennifer Lawrence‘s raunchy R-rated comedy, No Hard Feelings, remained in fourth place with $7.9 million, down 48 percent, to bring its domestic total to $29.7 million. Budgeted at $45 million, the comedy added another $6.5 million overseas to bring its global total to $49.3 million, so it should be fine and possibly even profitable by later this month, as long as it doesn’t lose too many theaters on Friday.
Paramount‘s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which also had its own disappointing opening last month, also retained its fifth place showing with $7.4 million, down 37 percent, to bring its domestic total to $136.5 million.
Things weren’t particularly great for DreamWorks Animation either, as it, too, boasted its own summertime bomb with Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, featuring the voice of Lana Condor. It has the audacious “honor” of being released on the 20th Anniversary of DreamWorks’ early bomb, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. That movie opened on this very same weekend in 2003 with $6.9 million in 3,086, not long after the animation house won the first-ever Oscar awarded in the Animated Feature category. It would remain the lowest opening for DWA until 2021’s Spirit Untamed, which opened with $6.1 million in 3,211 theaters, though at least that had the pandemic it could blame.
Ruby Gillman opened worse than both of them with an estimated $5.5 million in 3,400 theaters, averaging $1,618 per theater, to open in sixth place, with little excuse other than the fact that distributor Universal barely gave it much promotion after dumping it onto this weekend. Granted, it did receive an “A-” CinemaScore after a moderate 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that kind of showing gives theaters a good excuse to dump the movie by Week 3.
Ruby Gillman should not be confused with Disney’s The Little Mermaid, also about an undersea female adolescent, which retained seventh place with about $110,000 less than the DreamWorks flop, having grossed $281 million since opening on Memorial Day.
The Flash is officially Warner Bros‘ biggest disaster of the summer and year – if we forget about Shazam! Fury of the Gods back in March – taking another massive 65 percent drop in its third weekend to fall from third place to eighth with a mere $5.2 million. That drop could be accounted to the fact that it lost 1,538 theaters on Friday, which normally wouldn’t be the case for a summer tentpole, but distributors (and even the studio) seem to have completely lost any confidence in the Ezra Miller-starrer. Domestically, it has only grossed $99.6 million so far, and with such a massive plunge in theaters and grosses, it could very well be gone from the top 10 by next weekend.
The Flash is only doing slightly better overseas where it has grossed $146.1 million after this weekend’s $11.4 million international take, but a $245 million global gross for a movie that cost upwards of $300 million, including global marketing, is not a good look.
Wes Anderson‘s Asteroid City added 226 theaters but lost 53 percent of its business in its second weekend of wide release, taking ninth place with $4.3 million and bringing its domestic total to $18.1 million. We’ll have to see if Focus Features will try to continue to expand this one or will be satisfied with whatever it can make.
On the other hand, A24 finally went wide with Celine Song‘s acclaimed Sundance drama, Past Lives. That made an estimated $1.5 million in 906 theaters, an increase of 45 percent for a total of $5.9 million. That might not seem like much, but considering how poorly independent films have done in the past couple years, it’s another strong showing for a potential awards contender.
To wrap up Pride Month, Focus also opened Julie Cohen‘s stirring doc, Every Body, about intersex individuals in 255 theaters where it failed to find much of an audience, opening with $145,000 or $568 per theater.
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny||Walt Disney||$60,368,101||4,600||$60,368,101|
|3||Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse||Sony Pictures||$12,000,000||3,405||$340,372,000|
|4||No Hard Feelings||Sony Pictures||$7,850,000||3,208||$29,661,000|
|5||Transformers: Rise of the Beasts||Paramount Pictures||$7,353,892||2,852||$136,464,247|
|6||Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken||Universal||$5,500,990||3,400||$5,500,990|
|7||The Little Mermaid||Walt Disney||$5,392,817||2,430||$281,241,145|
|8||The Flash||Warner Bros.||$5,231,000||2,718||$99,481,000|
|9||Asteroid City||Focus Features||$4,276,925||1,901||$18,621,921|
|10||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3||Walt Disney||$2,020,980||1,165||$355,096,603|
Last July kicked off with Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s animated sequel (and prequel), Minions: The Rise of Gru, which opened in 4,391 theaters to make $107 million, winning the weekend quite definitively.
Bleecker Street opened the costume drama, Mr. Malcolm’s List, in 1,384 theaters, but it didn’t really find many moviegoers, opening in seventh place with $810,700 or $566 per theater.
Tom Cruise‘s Top Gun: Maverick continued to do big business with $25.9 million in its sixth weekend to take second place, down just 13% from its previous weekend.
Baz Luhrmann‘s Elvis had a slightly bigger drop in its second weekend, taking third place with $18.4 million, a drop of 41 percent from its previous week.
Third, fourth and fifth place were taken up by Jurassic World: Dominion with $16.4 million, The Black Phone with $12.2 million, and Lightyear with $6.4 million, all-in-all not a bad weekend… compared to this weekend.
Even though Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opened below expectations, and it’s probably going to have a pretty hefty drop in its second weekend, it might still be able to stay ahead of the new releases with somewhere in the $25 to $26 million range.
Offering the most competition is yet *another* fifth installment in a franchise, this one being the horror movie, Insidious: The Red Door, from Sony’s Screen Gems division. It marks the directorial debut of Patrick Wilson, who also stars, returning to the series for the first time since Insidious: Chapter 2 in 2013. Also returning are Ty Simpkins and Rose Byrne (in a smaller role), as it continues the story begun in the original Insidious in 2010.
Horror franchises are notorious for being quite erratic, and at a certain point, they lose their audiences even if the return of Wilson and Byrne should be exciting to those who liked the first two movies, both directed by James Wan (who remains on board as producer along with long-time collaborator Leigh Whannell and Wan’s current business partner, Jason Blum).
The Red Door follows five years after the fourth installment, Insidious: The Last Key, which opened with $29.8 million the first weekend of 2018 and grossed $67.7 million in North America, which is significantly less than the franchise high, 2013’s Insidious Chapter 2. The third movie, Insidious Chapter 3, opened with $22.7 million and had the lowest gross for the franchise with $52.2 million.
Don’t expect reviews to be kind. In fact, don’t expect any reviews at all, because Sony will be keeping them under wraps until Thursday afternoon, when the movie has previews beginning at 4pm.
The openings for the last two chapters have to taken into consideration for The Red Door. Despite the return of Wilson and Byrne, this franchise might already seem like old hat to the fans, who also might feel that it’s a franchise that’s already peaked. Because of that, expect The Red Door to end up in the $20 to 23 million range, rather than topping The Last Key. (Look for my own interview with Wilson, talking about making his directorial debut, sometime this week.)
One movie that’s going to be interesting to watch this weekend is Lionsgate‘s Joy Ride, a raunchy R-rated comedy directed by Adele Lim, and starring Ashley Park, Sherry Cola (the upcoming Shortcomings), Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and stand-up comic, Sabrina Wu. In the movie, Park plays Audrey, a successful Asian-American lawyer who travels to China with three friends for business, but gets roped into looking for her birth mother. Hilarity ensues.
In fact, the movie is indeed quite hilarious and is currently sporting a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes after an early preview at CinemaCon back in April. Opening in roughly 2,700 theaters, the movie is hoping to capitalize on the good will from 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians, which opened with $26.5 million on its way to $174.5 million domestic, and last year’s Oscar Best Picture winner, Everything Everywhere All at Once, while being a completely different movie, and something more like we might expect from Seth Rogen (who produced Joy Ride with his company Grey Point).
As much as I’d like to be optimistic, movies so far afield from the norm have had a tough time at the box office post-pandemic – see many of Lionsgate’s other well-regarded releases over the past couple years. Because of that, I’ll remain semi-optimistic that Joy Ride will open in the $13 to 15 million range this weekend and then find its audience via word-of-mouth. (Look for my interview with the film’s co-writers soon, right here on Above the Line.)
Opening on Tuesday, the 4th of July, in 2,626 theaters, is Angel Studios‘ Sound of Freedom, starring Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ) as Tim Ballard, a former Homeland Security agent who left the department out of frustration with how the U.S. has handled sex trafficking of children in third-world countries. Directed by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Monteverde (Little Boy), this is not your typical faith-based film, maybe because it deals with a larger sociopolitical subject, that one might not think would make for a big draw at the box office.
That said, it has apparently racked up over $7 million in pre-sales, but that could be spread out across the week, or it could end up being frontloaded to the 4th of July holiday. The latter scenario would leave very little for the weekend, where it could end up with $3 to 4 million to wind up on the low end of the Top 10.
A couple of this week’s limited releases include IFC Films‘ sci-fi comedy Biosphere, starring Mark Duplass and Sterling K. Brown; the British thriller The Lesson, starring Richard E. Grant and Julie Delpy from Bleecker Street; and Savanna Leaf‘s Sundance drama, Earth Mama. (I’ll have an interview with Duplass and Biosphere director Mel Eslyn later this week.)
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.