Barbie is no longer the #1 movie, and Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer also lost theaters, as new movies entered the market, few of them achieving close to even the lowest of expectations.
This Past Weekend
Warner Bros. already had the biggest hit of the summer and of its 100 years as an institution, but it decided to give one of its lesser-known DC properties, Blue Beetle, an opportunity to find an audience, it being the first solo movie for a LatinX superhero. Xolo Maridueña from the popular series Kobra Cai was cast as Jaime Reyes, the titular hero, with the cast including Brazilian actress Bruna Marquezine, along with Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, and even Latin pop star Becky G as the voice of Blue Beetle’s alien scarab armor. Reviews were generally positive going into the weekend, with hopes the movie would bring in a LatinX market that’s rarely catered to by Hollywood.
After making $3.3 million in Thursday previews, Blue Beetle won Friday with $10 million (including previews), and then brought in an estimated $25.4 million in 3,871 theaters, averaging $6,542. As a comparison, that’s even less than James Gunn‘s The Suicide Squad opened with in August two years ago, and that was in the middle of a pandemic with the unpopular decision of streaming the movie on HBO Max day-and-date with theatrical.
Audiences liked the movie slightly more than the The Flash, going by its “B+” Cinemasore, compared to the “B” rating for the Ezra Miller multiverse movie.
Blue Beetle only made $18 million overseas in 63 markets, but not even scoring particularly well in Latin American markets like Mexico ($2.7 million) and Brazil ($2.1 million), which were the top two overseas markets.
Greta Gerwig‘s mega-blockbuster Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, became Warners’ highest-grossing movie domestically this past week, surpassing Christopher Nolan‘s own 2008 superhero movie, The Dark Knight. It’s also well on its way to passing Universal‘s animated, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, to become the highest-grossing movie of 2023.
This weekend, it finally lost its top ranking after a month, falling to second place with $21.5 million (down 36 percent) while still playing in over 4,000 theaters, which is nearly unheard of for a movie’s fifth week. It has grossed $567.3 million, so it’s only $7 or 8 million away from passing Super Mario Bros. on its way to $600 million domestic.
Nolan’s Oppenheimer also lost theaters and dropped back down to third place with an estimated $10.6 million (down 44 percent) to bring its total to $285.2 million domestic, Nolan’s second-highest grossing non-Batman movie domestically. It also achieved another less lofty record by being the highest-grossing movie to never be #1 at the domestic box office, breaking the record previously held by Universal’s Sing.
Globally, Oppenheimer has passed the $700 million mark globally to become Nolan’s fourth-highest global blockbuster, surpassing Interstellar. This weekend, it added another $32 million overseas to bring its international total to $432.6 million and worldwide total to $717.8 million. Although Oppenheimer lost many IMAX screens to Blue Beetle this weekend, it still held onto some of the 70mm IMAX screens, which continue to sell out, and $146.4 million of that global total comes from IMAX showings.
Dropping back down to fourth place, Paramount‘s animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem brought in $8.4 million in its third weekend, down 45 percent from last weekend. It has grossed $88.1 million domestically, another Paramount summer tentpole that isn’t delivering the goods.
While Universal is relishing the enormous blockbuster hit it’s having with Oppenheimer, it’s struggling with most other releases. This weekend, it got hit hard with another bomb, as the R-rated dog comedy Strays, featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, and Ray Park, opened in fifth place with just $8.3 million. The movie was initially supposed to be released in June, but was delayed without taking into consideration the possibility of a dual strike. Reviews were mixed, but mostly bad, and it only made $1.1 million in early previews, adding up to $3.4 million on Friday and an estimated $8.3 million to open in fifth place. Strays also received a “B+” CinemaScore ala Blue Beetle, but it’s hard to see it finding much of an audience even with fewer releases in the coming weeks.
Dropping to sixth place, the Jason Statham shark movie, Meg 2: The Trench, added another $6.7 million (down 48 percent) to bring its total to $66.6 million. Despite doing far better in China, it’s hard to imagine Warners greenlighting a third movie in the series.
A24‘s hit Australian horror movie, Talk to Me, which already has a sequel in development, took seventh place with $3.2 million (down 37 percent) for a domestic total of $37.4 million.
Disney‘s Haunted Mansion, which opened the same weekend as Talk to Me, fell to eighth place with $3 million, down 48 percent, for a total of $58.8 million. It’s just another sign of how poorly Disney has done this summer after its initial success in May. Other than a few 20th Century movies in Sept., Disney will be taking time off and regrouping it strategy for its Nov. releases.
Although Tom Cruise‘s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 has not been doing as well as previous installments, it’s still hanging on to a Top 10 placement in just 1,608 theaters. This weekend, it added $2.7 million (down 41 percent) to take ninth place with $164.6 million total in North America.
Universal’s other August bomb, The Last Voyage of the Demeter, didn’t fare much better in its second weekend, dropping 62 percent all the way down to tenth place with $2.5 million and $11.4 million. Expect this one to be on VOD sooner rather than later.
Angel Studios’ Sound of Freedom – did you happen to read Jeff Sneider‘s great interview with its director, Alejandro Monteverde? – finally dropped out of the top 10 by making just a few thousand less than Demeter. It has grossed $177.7 million, making it a rare movie that happened due to crowdfunding that actually delivered a profit for its donors.
UPDATE: Sound of Freedom ended up making $2.6 million this weekend, which was enough to bump Demeter out of the top 10.
Despite having the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Wesley Snipes, and J.B. Smoove amongst its cast, the independently-released comedy, Back on the Strip, did not find much of an audience, bringing in just $461,000 in 1,317 theaters, a horrid per-theater average of $350 per theater.
Haddish also starred in the MGM release, Landscape with Invisible Hand, directed by Corey Findley (Bad Education), which opened in 304 theaters but grossed less than $100,000, averaging less than $300 per location. (If you estimate the movie was playing at least four showings in each of those theaters per day, that ends up being about $25 or two tickets per showing. Ouch.)
NEON reissued Park Chanwook‘s revenge thriller classic, Oldboy, for its 20th anniversary, and it made $495,000 in just 250 theaters, doing better than Back on the Strip in over 1,000 fewer theaters.
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||Blue Beetle||Warner Bros.||$25,030,225||3,871||$25,030,225|
|4||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem||Paramount Pictures||$8,538,765||3,477||$88,243,852|
|6||Meg 2: The Trench||Warner Bros.||$6,766,314||3,402||$66,593,550|
|7||Talk To Me||A24||$3,159,000||2,379||$37,367,710|
|8||Haunted Mansion||Walt Disney||$3,027,364||2,180||$58,859,519|
|9||Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One||Paramount Pictures||$2,737,507||1,608||$164,626,507|
|10||Sound of Freedom||Angel Studios||$2,600,636||2,152||$177,773,859|
Last August, Crunchyroll released the anime Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero into 3,018 theaters, allowing it to open in first place with $21.1 million, one of the better openings for an anime import, although it also received one of the wider releases.
The Idris Elba African-plains survival thriller, Beast, opened with $11.6 million in 3,743 theaters to take second place, which also was generally better than projected.
Brad Pitt‘s Bullet Train dropped to third place with $8 million and $69 million grossed so far, followed by Tom Cruise‘s Top Gun: Maverick with $5.9 million, as it continued to work its way to $700 million with $683 million so far.
Paramount opened the horror prequel, Orphan: First Kill, once again starring Isabelle Fuhrman, in 498 theaters, where it grossed $1.7 million, which was not enough for it to get into the top 10.
Welcome to what is historically one of the worst weekends of the year to release a movie. That is why it’s a little odd that we’re getting four wide releases, including Sony‘s Gran Turismo, being released into an unknown number of theaters but probably over 3,000.
The movie stars Archie Madekwe (Midsommar) as Welsh gamer-turned-racer Jann Mardenborough, who so good at the Playstation racing simulator in the movie’s title that he’s invited to attend the GT Academy to use his skills to become a real racer. The movie also stars David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Djimon Hounsou, and Gerri Halliwell Horner (aka “Baby Spice”).
Although the game has millions and millions of fans worldwide, there’s also a great deal of skepticism towards video game movies, mostly from the country at large but mainly with gamers who have burned many times in the past. Fortunately, movies like Sonic the Hedgehog and last year’s Uncharted has helped earn back their trust, but this is actually based on a true story (as stated in the film’s tacked-on subtitle) and more of a straight-up racing movie.
A few weeks back, Sony decided to delay Gran Turismo two weeks, presumably to help build word-of-mouth with a number of preview screenings over the past two weeks, but so far, reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are fairly mixed, which won’t help with anyone skeptical about this after watching the trailer.
Bearing in mind the terrible release week and the amount of stronger movies in theaters, Gran Turismo can still win the weekend, but it might be with between $25 and 30 million but not much higher.
Liam Neeson returns with his newest revenge thriller, Retribution, directed by Nimród Antal (Predators), which has him playing a father with two teenage kids, who gets a phone call threatening that the car they’re in will explode if he doesn’t do exactly what the caller says.
Even without knowing how many theaters in which this will play, this should still do better than the other new wide releases below, just because Neeson has more of a track record at the box office. That said, he’s been making so many bad action-thrillers in recent years that older male moviegoers may be more skeptical about this one vs. the sure-thing racing movie of Gran Turismo.
Since 2019, only one of Neeson’s movies grossed more than $15 million in North America that being The Marksman in Jan. 2021, still facing closed movie theaters in New York and L.A. due to COVID. That opened with $3 million which is the general opening for his recent movies. This one has a stronger premise and is getting a bigger push by Roadside Attractions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it opens between $4 and 5 million.
Dennis Quaid stars in the inspirational sports drama, The Hill, which tells the story of Rickey Hill (Colin Ford) and his journey to play in Major League Baseball. Being released by Briarcliff into an unknown number of theaters, this will presumably try to appeal to the faith-based crowd, but otherwise, few others will know about the movie or care. Because of this, I wouldn’t expect this to make much more than $2 million, making it harder to bust into the top 10.
Also scheduled to get a wide release is Bleecker Street‘s Golda, starring Helen Mirren as the Israeli Prime Minister during one of the tougher moments of her prominent political career. Honestly, if it wasn’t my job to write about movies, I might not even know this movie was being released, since I haven’t seen nearly as much promotion by Bleecker Street as for the recent comedy, Jules. Although this movie is quite well-directed by Oscar winner Guy Nattiv (Skin), reviews have been muted, so it’s not looking like it will be the Oscar contender many felt it might be due to Mirren’s transformation. This might be able to bring in a million or slightly more, but it all depends on that ever-elusive theater count.
Because this is not a great weekend for movies normally, there’s a good chance that only one of the above movies might open in the top 5, and that would be Gran Turismo. The rest will be fighting it out with returning movies just to get into the top 10 with Retribution likely doing the best.
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.