We already knew going into September that the studios were going to slam a lot of sequels down moviegoers’ throats, as well as quite a few horror movies. It made sense that this weekend would be won by a movie that fit both mandates.
This Past Weekend
Five years ago, Warner Bros. and New Line delivered one of the biggest openings in its The Conjuring franchise with The Nun, based on the evil nun character introduced in James Wan‘s The Conjuring 2 from 2016. The spin-off opened with $53.8 million and grossed more than $310 million worldwide.
This weekend, The Nun II, directed by Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) and bringing back Taissa Farmiga and Bonnie Aarons as the demon nun Valak, opened in 3,728 theaters. After bringing in $3.1 million from Thursday previews and $13 million on Friday (including previews), the horror sequel ended up with an estimated $32.6 million over the weekend.
Maybe opening so long after its predecessor hurt it, but despite opening $20 million lower, it received better reviews, but still bad with 45 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and only a slightly better CinemaScore than The Nun with a “C+” grade vs. the “C” of its predecessor. That’s still not good, and could portend a 60 percent drop or more next weekend.
The Nun II did particularly well in Mexico, where it brought in $8.9 million this weekend, as part of its $52.7 million overseas debut, with $4.4 million grossed in Brazil and (quite oddly) Indonesia.
Denzel Washington‘s The Equalizer 3 took a drastic 65 percent second weekend plunge down to second place with $12.1 million, probably unsurprising considering its Labor Day debut, and it has grossed $61.9 million domestically, making it questionable whether it can achieve the same $100 million as the previous two movies in North America. Denzel’s domestic hit added another $11.5 million overseas this weekend to bring its global total past $100 million with $107.7 million.
Nia Vardalos was back in theaters with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, this time going behind the camera to direct, as Focus Features took over distribution of the threequel that few were expecting after My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 failed to deliver on the global success of the original movie in 2016. The movie went into the weekend with atrocious reviews – is that even remotely surprising? – and after making $550,000 in Thursday previews and $3.7 million on Friday, it took third place with an estimated $10 million for the weekend. The Vardalos fans seemed to be slightly more accepting with a “B” CinemaScore. The 2016 sequel received an “A-“, but considering that the original movie grossed $374.9 million worldwide, it’s time to put a nail in this comedy franchise that no on seems remotely interested in seeing.
Yash Raj Films released the Telugu-language action flick, Jawan, into 764 theaters on Thursday, where it made $1.4 million, before expanding into 827 theaters for the weekend. Starring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who had a modest domestic hit earlier this year with Pathaan, the movie continues a renewed interest in everything Bollywood (and Tollywood, if you will) after last year’s RRR won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Jawan ended up grossing $2.4 million this weekend just from global IMAX screens with $1.1 million in North America and $820,000 in India.
Warner Bros’ mega-blockbuster hit Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, finally saw signs of slowing down with a drop to fifth place with $5.9 million (down 42%). With $620.5 million grossed domestically – slowly edging its way to surpass the domestic gross of Marvel’s The Avengers – and $1.4 billion globally, WBD will have nothing to complain about and is probably just waiting for strikes to end to greenlight 20 sequels and spin-offs.
Things weren’t going so great in fifth place, where Warners’ latest superhero offering, Blue Beetle, dropped 47 percent to sixth place with $3.8 million and $63.7 million in North America.
Gran Turismo is turning out to be a bigger racing car wreck for Sony than expected, this weekend dropping to seventh place (down 49 percent) with $3.4 million and just $35.7 million domestic.
Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer followed in eighth place, itself down 48 percent with $3 million and $315.1 million domestic, a bonafide hit for Universal that should make the suits quite delighted to stay in bed with Nolan.
Ninth place went to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem with $2.6 million and $111.33 in North America, while MGM‘s R-rated comedy, Bottoms, expanded into 1,265 theaters and just barely remained in the top 10 with $2 million (down 33 percent) and $7.6 million grossed so far.
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||The Nun II||Warner Bros.||$32,600,000||3,728||$32,600,000|
|2||The Equalizer 3||Sony Pictures||$12,100,000||3,965||$61,845,408|
|3||My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3||Focus Features||$10,000,000||3,650||$10,000,000|
|4||Jawan||Yash Raj Films||$6,191,506||813||$7,555,773|
|6||Blue Beetle||Warner Bros.||$3,775,000||2,786||$63,703,555|
|7||Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story||Sony Pictures||$3,375,000||2,765||$35,685,098|
|9||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem||Paramount Pictures||$2,600,000||2,500||$111,327,215|
The pandemic may have been all but over, but last Fall still saw movies struggling to make much of an impact, even as 20th Century took advantage of earlier September horror hits to release Zach Cregger‘s horror movie Barbarian into a moderate 2,340 theaters, which was more than enough for it to win the weekend with $10.5 million, roughly $4,506 theaters.
Second place went to the Bollywood epic, Brahmastra Part 1: Shiva, released by Fox Star Indie into just 810 theaters, rough for it to pull in $4.5 million, averaging $5,609 per theater for second place.
Sony’s Bullet Train pulled ahead of Tom Cruise‘s Top Gun: Maverick with $3.3 million to $3.2 million for third and fourth place – yeah, that’s the kind of weekend it was.
The only other wide release was the Fathom Events-distributed faith-based drama Lifemark, starring Kirk Cameron, released into 1,531 theaters to make $2.2 million or $1,430 per theater, to take seventh place.
The September of sequels continues with Kenneth Branagh‘s third go-round as Agatha Christie‘s Hercule Poirot in A Haunting in Venice, another mystery for the erstwhile detective, this one set in Venice and involving a lot more horror elements than either Murder on the Orient Express or 2021’s Death on the Nile.
Besides Branagh, A Haunting in Venice also stars Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Laird, Kyle Allen, and both Jamie Dornan and Jude Hill from Branagh’s Oscar-nominated Belfast, as it hopes to capitalize on its ensemble cast ala the previous two movies in the series. Murder opened in November 2017 with $28.7 million, a bonafide hit that eventually accrued $102.3 million domestic and almost $250 million overseas, enough to warrant a sequel even as 20th Century Fox was being bought by Disney. Its sequel, Death on the Nile, the only connecting DNA being Branagh’s Poirot, got hit hard by the pandemic, mainly in terms of its release date as the new 20th Century bosses tried to figure out what to do with it. Eventually, it was released in Feb. 2022, just as the Omicron variant of COVID was starting to die down. It only opened with $12.9 million and made only $130.3 million worldwide based on a $90 million budget i.e. in NO WAY warranting a sequel, but hey, someone at Disney must like the movies and/or Sir Kenneth to give him another go. (Reviews for Death on the Nile were moderately positive.)
Reviews for Haunting hit on Saturday night, and as of this writing, they’re still generally positive with 85 positive on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, with so many relatively strong sequels in theaters, it might be tough for Haunting to hit the opening of Murder on the Orient Express, but it should come close due to the popularity of the cast, the Agatha Christie novels, and Branagh’s portrayal of Poirot, but also the horror element.
Expect A Haunting to open in the $25 million range, give or take, easily taking first place as The Nun II takes a characteristically steep drop in its second weekend, although seeing how poorly this weekend’s sequels fared, one wonders whether the notorious “sequelitis” might start taking effect any weekend now.
Blue Fox Entertainment will be releasing Curiosity Studio‘s stop-motion animated Leonardo Da Vinci movie, The Inventor, moderately wide on Friday after a delay from August. Directed by Jim Capobianco, the movie features the voices of Daisy Ridley, Matt Berry, Marion Cotillard, and Stephen Fry, and though it might be one of the studio’s wider releases – taking advantage of the lack of family films in theaters – it just doesn’t seem to be marketed well enough to make more than $2 million or so this weekend.
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.