The last weekend of January was a very sleepy one indeed, though practically every film in the top 10 took advantage. Amazing hold across the board!!!
Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Jan 28-30) / Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Monday (3-Day) Sunday Estimates:
- Spider-Man: No Way Home/ $11 million / -21% / Weekend 7 / Sony (Columbia)
- Scream (aka Scream 5) / $7.35 million / -40% / Weekend 3 / Paramount
- Sing 2 / $4.78 million / -17% / Weekend 6 / Universal
- Redeeming Love / $1.85 million / -48% / Weekend 2 / Universal
- The King’s Man / $1.75 million / -2% / Weekend 6 / Disney (20th Century Studios)
- The 355 / $1.4 million / -12% / Weekend 3 / Universal
- American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story / $1.22 million / +4% / Weekend 6 / Lionsgate
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife / $770K / +18% / Weekend 11 / Sony (Columbia)
- Licorice Pizza / $691K / +5% / Weekend 10 / United Artists (MGM)
- West Side Story / $614K / -14% / Weekend 8 / Disney (20th Century Studios)
11. Nightmare Alley / $534K / +133% / Weekend 7 / Disney (Searchlight)
12. House of Gucci / $529K / -5% / Weekend 10 / United Artists (MGM)
16. Parallel Mothers / $312K / +87% / Weekend 6 / Sony (Sony Pictures Classics)
18. Belfast / $120K / +252% / Weekend 12 / Focus Features
19. Drive My Car / $103K / +11% / Weekend 10 / Janus Films
20. GameStop: Rise of the Players / $80K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Neon (SuperLTD) ($300 per theater)
21. Flee / $70K / +92% / Weekend 9 / Neon (w/ Participant Media)
22. Sundown / $24K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Bleecker Street Media
This time of year is both frustrating and fantastic for me. On one hand, there truly is nothing to talk about as the top ten has remained almost exactly the same for three weeks now. On the other, that gives me carte blanche to write about even the most ridiculous piece of minutiae that happens to strike my fancy (see last weekend’s post where I delved into the history of PureFlix and Pinnacle Peak Pictures on a whim). There are some neat things to talk about this week, largely how impressively most films have managed to take advantage of the lack of competition, but I’m not going to lie, I am so excited for Moonfall and Jackass Forever to come in a finally shake things up. Even if they flop, at least it’ll be interesting.
As for our obligatory notices for No Way Home, the film continues to impressively take advantage of not having a single true competitor in its midst with its strongest hold yet, -21%. This resulted in a gross of $11 million this weekend in first place, taking its domestic total to $735.8 million. It remains the fourth highest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office and while I don’t necessarily think it will end up passing Avatar to take third place, the bigger deal gross this weekend is actually with its international haul. Officially, No Way Home has just joined a very unique group of films, including The Fate of the Furious, Furious 7, Endgame, Infinity War, and The Force Awakens, which have been able to gross over $1 billion in international revenue, essentially becoming billion dollar earners without any help from the US market. It’s an undeniably impressive feat that speaks to the power of giving the audiences what they want (three Spider-Men [spoilers, but come on] and a sense of closure for both Maguire and Garfield’s Spider-Man storylines after each of them had new installments in their respective series cut short). Wish fulfillment indeed has powerful appeal. That said, I think we officially have an answer to whether or not No Way Home will make it to $2 billion worldwide, and that answer is no. That’s no criticism of the film; $1.738 billion is nothing to sneeze at. However, with a gross of $11 million domestic this weekend and $21 million overseas in the same frame, I think that No Way Home is on the tail end of its run, and even phenomenal legs will not be able to conjure over $250 million worldwide, especially as bigger titles enter the market place this coming weekend. The film will likely end with, at best, $1.85 billion.
In second place, Scream managed to fully take advantage of the January vacuum with a great -40% hold from last weekend. This resulted in a $7.35 million gross for the weekend, taking its domestic haul to $62.1 million. Funnily enough, with this gross, Scream has officially become leggier (if only by a little bit) than its predecessor Scream 4 (which has the shortest legs of any movie in the franchise with a x2.04 multiplier from opening weekend to total domestic gross). More impressively, however, with about $21 million internationally, Scream has grossed $83.1 million worldwide. That’s 3.5x is budget, a very healthy gross just as the film prepares to weather the storm of newer titles that will be entering the market soon. The question on everyone’s mind now is whether or not Scream will be able to make it past $100 million worldwide. In all likelihood, the domestic gross for the film is probably going to top out around $70 million, so whether or not it hits $100 million will depend on what kind of domestic/international split it maintains. Right now, Scream has taken in around 75% of its total gross from the States. A split like that of Scream 4, which was the worst performer in the franchise, would actually have Scream pulling in $175 million. I’m very hesitant to think that Scream will get anywhere near that, but $100 million seems within reach.
In third place, we have our most reliable performer, Sing 2, which continues to stake its claim as the”kid-friendly” option this January and carve out a very strong audience niche. Amazingly, thanks to the lack of new titles and audiences stabilizing for the holdovers, Sing 2 only fell -17% in its sixth weekend, taking in a gross of $4.78 million. This takes the film to a domestic gross of $134.5 million and its worldwide total to $267.9 million. That’s incredible, especially since the film is also currently available to rent at home for $20, but this particularly strong hold is notable in the grand scheme of things as it seems to precipitate a swath of noticeably stronger holds for movies across the rest of the top ten.
In fourth place, we find last week’s newcomer, the (essentially) surprise release of Redeeming Love from Universal on behalf of Pinnacle Peak Pictures. Now, I had originally predicted the film, given its surprising showing of $3.5 million last weekend (more than many pundits would have ever predicted), to hold like that of 2018’s Forever My Girl with somewhere between a 15-20%. Alas, that expectation might have been a bit too lofty as while Forever My Girl had Jessica Rothe fronting it (right as she was coming off a star-making turn in Happy Death Day), Redeeming Love has no real familiar faces in the cast to sell tickets. Still, coming in with a -48% drop for this kind of film is nothing to sneeze at, and it further cements another comparison I made a few posts back to that of Unplanned, a PureFlix film (Pinnacle Peak’s predecessor) that made a splash on opening weekend and was able to leg out to a surprisingly healthy gross. That controversial faith-based drama also managed to hold on by 49% in its second weekend which suggests that it might make for the perfect comparison to Redeeming Love. Redeeming Love took in $1.8 million this weekend (adding 60 theaters in the process which shows that some exhibitors are particularly impressed with its performance) which takes its domestic gross to $6.5 million. If Redeeming Love does indeed end up having the same legs as Unplanned, we’ll be looking at a gross of over $10 million which would be a record for the newly formed Pinnacle Peak. Way to go!
Fifth place is home to the strongest hold of the bunch. With an insane hold of -2%(!), The King’s Man has managed to come in with $1.75 million; nearly identical to the $1.78 million last weekend, something you really never see with just how speedily the landscape changes from week to week. As per usual, I need to mark this film with an asterisk and note that it is still an absolute flop with only $34 million domestically and just over $100 million worldwide on a likely $200 million budget. However, just as with Redeeming Love, exhibitors have taken notice of this film’s continued strength at the box office, in spite of the more than two-year delay of its theatrical release, and expanded its theater count by a very surprising 125 theaters. This doubtlessly contributed to the amazing hold and should serve as further proof to Disney, the Kingsman brand’s new owners, that this is a franchise worth keeping around. On that note, something that will be very interesting to watch down the line is The King’s Man‘s impending rollout on digital platforms. Disney is becoming increasingly more conscious of how their properties are performing on streaming services in light of Wall Street using Disney+’s subscriber growth to grade the company’s stock. This can be seen in their decision to send most of their films directly to Disney+ (concurrently with a PVOD release on Google Play, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Rental, and other rental platforms) after a 45-Day exclusive theatrical window. They’ve so far done this of Shang-Chi, which hit Disney+ right in time for the service’s rollout in Japan and Korea, and an abbreviated version of this for Encanto, with a 30-Day exclusive theatrical run starting this past Thanksgiving which was timed perfectly for a Disney+ release on Christmas Eve (which has since resulted in the film, and its fantastic soundtrack, exploding in popularity).
The King’s Man‘s 45-Day exclusive theatrical window is almost up (it will specifically end this coming Saturday, February 5th), though its digital release will be slightly more complicated given that it is a 20th Century Fox holdover from prior to Disney’s acquisition of the studio. Fox has pre-existing output deal with HBO that guarantees that all films produced and distributed under the 20th CenturyStudios and Searchlight Pictures labels through the end of 2022 will go directly to HBO and HBO Max for their Pay-1/SVOD (aka streaming) release windows. This caused several large headaches for Disney throughout the pandemic as they were unable to send several of the completed 20th Century Fox films they’d acquired, like Free Guy, Nightmare Alley, Ron’s Gone Wrong, Deep Water, and Death on the Nile to Disney+ (which would’ve potentially driven up subscriptions) lest they breach the HBO contract, thereby forcing them to leave these films sitting on the shelve and accruing interest on their already substantial budgets. Disney has since managed to circumvent this with an addendum to the existing deal that allows for HBO and Disney to share the streaming rights to said movies, allowing Disney to release them concurrently with HBO on platforms like Disney+ and Hulu. They’ve already managed to exercise this addendum with Ron’s Gone Wrong (a fantastic movie by the way), sending it to Disney+ alongside its HBO Max release, and will be releasing Nightmare Alley and Deep Water in a similar fashion, having each of them debut on Hulu in the coming months (Nightmare Alley actually bows on HBO Max and Hulu this coming Saturday, February 5th).
Given that The King’s Man is very much an R-rated film and highly unsuitable for Disney+, it is Hulu and HBO Max that will be hosting the film in tandem when it becomes available to stream; a date that Disney has set for February 18th. I expect the company will likely make the film available to rent (for $20) this coming Saturday as they await its arrival on the streaming platform and I am eager to see just how well it performs in terms of viewers and if it potentially drives people to sign up for Hulu. It has been proven time and time again throughout the pandemic (and even earlier, frankly) that the promise of being able to see a big-time, anticipated theatrical release “for free” (aka included with your subscription fee) on a streaming service is a huge factor in driving up that film’s viewership numbers when it becomes available digitally. Again, I point to Encanto‘s gigantic surge in popularity as people who missed it in theaters rushed to check it out on Disney+ when it became available on the service. While The King’s Man has not been a strong performer in terms of raw box office dollars, its magnificent holds week-to-week suggest very strong word of mouth, so I do believe that it has the potential to become a gigantic hit once it becomes available online. I await that day with great anticipation so we can talk more about it!
As for the rest of the top ten, and speaking of fantastic holds, The 355 continued to make the best of its circumstances (having no competition at all) and the critically dirrided, female-led actioner held by -12% for a gross of $1.4 million, taking its domestic total to $13 million. For a film that is critically maligned (at least it appears to be) and that opened so poorly with $4.6 million, the fact that it has managed to gross 2.89x is its opening weekend is genuinely impressive. x2.89 is actually a very strong multiplier for any movie, and Universal, whether intentionally or by accident, positioned the film well-enough to take advantage of the January box office vacuum in great fashion. Notably, The 355, in accordance with Universal’s PVOD deal with AMC theaters (and I assume other theaters chains by this point), has also now been released for rental on digital platforms like Google Play and Apple TV, which makes its hold all the more impressive given that, for nearly the same price of a trip the theater, audiences were able to watch the film from the comfort of their own homes. 17-21 days is the length of the exclusive theatrical window for underperforming Universal films (I believe higher earners are allowed 45-50 days, but don’t quote me on that) so we’ll see what the ancillary market numbers look like for The 355 as the week goes on. I’ve asserted several times now that The 355, despite underperforming theatrically, will have multiple opportunities to find an audience down the line with a two month stint on Peacock coming up in the next 20 days, followed by an eight month sabbatical on Amazon Prime, a quick two month return to Peacock, and then a potential year on Starz for people to seek it out. If I had to guess, I would say Amazon is where the film is most likely to be popular given the prevalence and popularity of Bourne-like spy content on the service (i.e. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan with John Kransinski, with an fourth season headed our way, and Michael B. Jordan’s Without Remorse), but we’ll just see. Any way, The 355 held its own better than it had any right to in theaters and I am thoroughly impressed.
As for seventh place, faith-based sports drama American Underdog, did the opposite of what I expected it to do and actually grew its audience in its sixth weekend, growing +4% for a gross of $1.22 million which puts it at $24.7 million domestic. This puts it in line with predictions that see the film topping out around $25 million, which, for a film of this ilk, is genuinely great and guarantees that the film will do quite will in the ancillary market. Eighth place went to a surprising entry which rebounded from the depths thanks to an enlarged theater count: Ghostbusters: Afterlife! Adding 109 theaters, the film grew by +18% this weekend and grossed $770K. Regarding Ghostbusters: Afterlife, as time goes on, I’m coming to think more and more that the film is something of an underperformer, and this addition of theaters is doing nothing to disuade me. Clearly, the expanded theater count was orchestrated by Sony in order to make sure that this most recent Ghostbusters entry could match or, ideally, outgross the $128.3 million domestic gross of the 2016 all-female reboot, which bombed spectacularly due to a massively inflated budget of $144 million. Afterlife was accordingly budgeted at a much more reasonable $75 million and as a result is not at all box office flop, sporting a gross of $196 million worldwide. Still, that’s only 2.6x its budget, and while I have no doubt that it will be a hit in the ancillary market, I can’t help but feel that Sony was expecting the film to due a bit better. After all, they did sign director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Gil Kenan to a producing deal early in the wake of the film’s genuinely great opening weekend (one that likely included a deal for both of them to return for another Ghostbusters sequel). However, if the fact that both films made just about the same amount of money domestically means anything, it’s that Ghostbusters‘ brand appeal may be a bit more limited than Sony expects.
Finishing off the top ten are Licorice Pizza, which grew +5% for a gross of $691K this weekend ($11.8 million domestic total) and West Side Story, which dropped -14% with a gross of $614K ($36 million domestic, $60 million worldwide; on a $100 million budget….ouch!). Meanwhile, the specialty market saw Nightmare Alley return to 713 extra theaters with a special black-and-white version of the film to further accent its noir-ish tone. That didn’t do it much good as it only took in $534K extra (notable bump of +133% from last weekend, although the sum was already paltry to begin with). Elsewhere, while neither Charlie XCX: Alone Together from Greenwich Entertainment nor Woody Allen’s Rifkin’s Festival registered at all, Tim Roth and director Michel Franco’s most recent collaboration, Sundown, did appear in six theaters with a gross of $24K (about $4,000 per theater). Starring Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the film sees a family trip to Mexico cut short by an emergency that brings long simmering tensions to the surface. As vague as that sounds, this film is clearly a contender for the Independent Spirit Awards next year but is highly unlikely to get any Oscar traction. Another notable release was the documentary GameStop: Rise of the Players from Neon’s boutique label, SuperLTD, which tracks the incredible stock fluctuation that GameStop had last year and all the factors that played into that event. Still, in the heat of this years Oscar season, it had no chance of making an impression and took in $80K in 267 theaters for a per-theater-average of $300. The fact that Neon made the mistake of doing that many theaters for a limited release frustrates me greatly since they are one of my favorite distributors. I know that they know better.
As for other Oscar contenders, as Acadmey voting started up this week, Belfast, Drive My Car, Parallel Mothers, and Flee all saw major growth frmm week-to-week, partly due to an increase in their theater counts to capitalize on the voting period and also just because of general interest in the contenders. Belfast had the biggest jump of +252% through the addition of 133 theaters, resulting in a $120K gross, while Flee got a +92% boost through a 183 theater addition and grossed $70K. Neither Drive My Car nor Parrallel Mothers saw much theater number growth, but both posted solid-to-strong weekend-to-weekend gains. Drive My Car took in +11% more than last weekend for a gross of$103K and Parallel Mothers saw a whopping +86% for a gross of $312K. For what its worth, House of Gucci also capitalized on the last sleepy weekend in January and held well, dropping just -5% for a gross of $529K despite losing 100 theaters. Should Lady Gaga receive a Best Actress nomination in the coming weeks (which, at the point, is all but guaranteed), expect the film to recover those 100 theaters and a lot more as MGM will likely thrust it back into wide release to capitalize on her Oscar momentum.
So goes the January 2022 box office. I cannot wait for next weekend!