On the other hand, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once has an incredible expansion into the mainstream and is on track to become on of A24’s best performers!!
Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Apr 15th-17th) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Actuals:
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore / $42.1 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Warner Bros.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 / $29.3 million / -59% / Weekend 2 / Paramount Pictures
- The Lost City / $6.2 million / -31% / Weekend 4 / Paramount Pictures
- Everything, Everywhere, All At Once / $6.18 million / +2% / Weekend 4 / A24
- Father Stu / $5.4 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sony (Columbia Pictures)
- Morbius / $4.7 million / -54% / Weekend 3 / Sony (Columbia)
- Ambulance / $4 million million / -54% / Weekend 2 / Universal Pictures
- The Batman / $3.76 million / -42% / Weekend 7 / Warner Bros.
- K.F.G. Chapter 2 (in Teglu) / $2.9 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sarigama Cinemas/Viva Pictures
- K.F.G. Chapter 2 (in Hindi) / $1.7 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sarigama Cinemas/Viva Pictures
11. Uncharted / $1.19 million / -55% / Weekend 9 / Sony (Columbia)
14. Dual / $118K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / RLJE Films (157 theaters, $753 per-theater)
23. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair / $12K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Utopia (3 theaters, $4,250 per-theater)
Looks like my optimism was in vain, as Secrets of Dumbledore ended up thoroughly tanking, even more so than I think anyone could’ve imagined. Many a think piece has been going out talking about the end of Harry Potter as a brand, which is quite a shame as it distracts from more upbeat (and frankly more interesting) news this weekend regarding Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Overall, this weekend was actually quite strong in spite of Fantastic Beasts downturn as every movie in the top ten managed to churn out a gross greater than $1 million (something we haven’t seen in a while) and there was a great show of strength from an unexpected demographic. I’m not necessarily sure that opening a different film in this frame would’ve resulted in greater success, but Easter Weekend was not nearly as sleepy as I thought it was going to be.
Before we dive into the real interesting stuff, we must address the dead elephant in the room. I’d personally predicted that Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore would open to around $55 million. It was a bit lofty, I’ll admit it, but somewhere in the $50 millions seemed about right for this franchise given its legacy as part of the Harry Potter/Wizarding World universe and the fact that, in spite of what Twitter would have you believe, that brand still has its fans. You can say a lot of things about J.K. Rowling but what you can’t say is that she has no imagination. It’s undeniable that a big part of the appeal of The Wizard World is just that, the “world” itself. Whether or not you’ve read the original books, it’s a futile effort to try and not be entranced by the rich level of detail and sheer expansiveness of the world-building of Harry Potter. I’d argue that the worldbuilding is what drew most people into the books while characters and story are what kept them hooked in (that was my experience, at least) and that very same sense of wonder that Rowling and Warner Bros. have crafted and perpetuated is the reason why The Wizard World section of Universal Studios is so popular. It’s fantastical escapism, with a massive amount of emphasis on the “fantastic”.
That appeal is largely what got people to show up for the first Fantastic Beasts movie, and as an ardent fan of the original, I can say that it absolutely delivered on that front. However, as I mentioned above, it’s the characters and story that ended up keeping people engaged with the original Potter stories and it should’ve been the same for Fantastic Beasts. The characters certainly were there. They may not have been perfect and the actors may not have totally grown into their roles at the time, but Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander was unique to this franchise, Katherine Waterson’s Tina Goldstein had potential, Alison Sudol’s Queenie was a kooky delight, and perhaps most surprisingly, Dan Fogler was (and continue to be) an absolute revelation in the role of Jacob Kowalski, the earnest and sweetly awkward Muggle who really gave the story its spark. By the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, all of these characters were set up well, with their relationships fully established, and ready to take another awesome adventure across the previously unexplored magical terrain of America. Did we get that? Unfortunately not. Instead of focusing on the characters that had been established and using them as vehicles through which to delve deeper into the wonders of the Wizarding World, they were instead awkwardly shoved into a narrative that didn’t really have any time for them, instead focusing on building out an epic rivalry/romance between two historic wizards, one of whom really wasn’t introduced until the final book in the original Harry Potter series. To be clear, that wasn’t an inherently bad idea. Franchise pivots can be wildly successful and keep a brand fresh, just look at Thor: Ragnarok and the entirety of the Fast & Furious franchise post-Fast Five. The problem in this scenario was, as I said in my last post, that the creatives behind Fantastic Beasts tried to do too much and go too big all too fast. In doing so, they left the audience stranded with a film that was, at best, a sharp turn in another direction which resulted in Crimes of Grindelwald feeling both overstuffed and completely empty all at once. In other words, it felt like a waste of time and money.
That feeling of emptiness and audience disillusionment can be seen directly in the resulting grosses for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which opened to $74 million, legged out to $234 million domestic (an impressive x3.15 multiplier), and took in $811 million worldwide, followed by Crimes of Grindelwald opening to $62 million, legging out to $159 million domestic (a still decent multiplier of x2.57, though quite the comedown), and finalizing with a worldwide gross of $651 million. To Crimes of Grindelwald‘s credit, that was still a surprisingly decent run when you consider just how poor the reception to the film was from both critics and audiences; however, it was a major signal to Warner that something had gone awry and they’d lost a decent chunk of their audience. Sure enough, despite specifically pushing the film back by a year (prior to the pandemic-related delays) to rejigger the script and address the issues fans had, the downward trend has continued. Secrets of Dumbledore was hit with, at best, ambivalent reviews and nonchalance from much of the audience. Officially, the film opened stateside to $42 million, on the much lower end of projections that already saw the film coming in at a pretty lowly $40-50 million.
So, just who showed up? The answer to that question actually provides a surprising level of insight into the proceedings as the biggest audience for Secrets of Dumbledore was older women. Reportedly, 38% of the audience was women over the age of 25, with 57% of the audience being women between the ages of 18 and 34. This tracks, as women generally tend to be more avid readers than men and thus tend to show up in bigger numbers for movies based on book properties. In fact, the trades seized on the information to give Secrets of Dumbledore its sole win for the weekend, that it had the biggest opening weekend gross for a female-skewing film during the pandemic, beating out the previous title holder, The Lost City. It’s a genuine feather in the film’s cap as it has been extensively observed that older women are the demographic that has been the most reluctant to return to theaters during the pandemic and theaters, no matter how low the gross for this film, are rejoicing that the combined strength Secrets of Dumbledore and The Lost City are reeling in this missing demographic.
Despite this good news, however, further context is damning for this Wizarding World picture as the second biggest demo for this movie was men over 25 at 33%, making 71% of this film’s audience over the age of 25. What this tells me is that the people who did show up to Secrets of Dumbledore were indeed die-hard fans of the Wizard World and all its properties. These were people who read the books when they were young, showed up to every movie in the original series, have been to the parks, and were showing up for every Fantastic Beasts movie no matter how much the quality declined. That kind of brand loyalty is special and admirable but it does not a film franchise make, and by wrapping the sequels up in deeper Harry Potter lore, Warner and Rowling have made these films less accessible to non-hardcore fans; and when many of those fans were already alienated by this film’s predecessor, the film was destined to fail as it was unable to reel in casual moviegoers. These circumstances further surprise me as the original Fantastic Beasts, while still a having bit of a barrier to entry for casual fans, managed to still be pretty accessible and, as a result, much more family-friendly. The in-jokes and callbacks to the original films and books served more as a special treat to Potterheads while the movie around them still engaged the casual audience. I’d personally thought that, given its Wizarding World pedigree, this new Fantastic Beasts film would have a broader age appeal. Alas, by focusing on deeper mythology and choosing to go darker in tone, the audience did indeed shrink. That’s to say nothing of the fact that the film also centers around a homosexual couple (or at least a homosexual relationship) which I can picture being a turn-off for some families as well. Still, I don’t think anything derailed this franchise more than aggressively deviating from a story and characters that, based on the box office returns, audiences generally liked. Similar to Batman vs Superman and The Last Jedi, the studio turned away audiences by going too big too fast and shifting storytelling gears so sharp that it gave viewers whiplash, and as with Justice League and The Rise of Skywalker, course-correcting measures did not help one bit. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks, but I am very doubtful that we’ll be getting another Fantastic Beasts movie any time soon.
Now, normally, I’d be excited to report that second place is a much nicer situation and a happier change of pace, and to a degree it is. Sonic 2 took this spot and is looking just peachy with $118.9 million domestic and $188.7 million worldwide in just two weeks. That said, it dropped about -58% in its second weekend, which is a number I was not expecting. Given its strength out of the gate and the fact that it faces little competition for the next few weeks, I was fully expecting Sonic 2 to hold a bit better, closer to -50% specifically. Instead, its -58% drop is a lot closer to that of the original Sonic the Hedgehog‘s drop of -55%, and their second weekend grosses actually almost match with Sonic 2 taking in $29.3 million to Sonic 1‘s $26.2 million. Now, to be clear, this is no reason for alarm. Sonic 2 is still doing well, tracking ahead of the original at this same point in its release cycle ($118 million domestic vs. $106 million domestic) and holding by -31% in terms of international grosses. Still, its more significant slowdown (at least for now) does surprise me as it really has nothing holding it back. Funny enough, this seems to be a common theme with Paramount releases this year, opening very well only to then drop more than expected in their second weekends, with Scream (5) dropping -59%, Jackass Forever dropping -65%, and The Lost City dropping -52%. To be fair, all of these films eventually stabilized and went on to have pretty leggy runs, all things considered, but it is fascinating to see Sonic 2 following in the footsteps of fellow members of its studio’s slate. Perhaps Paramount needs to consider bolstering their marketing assets so as to continue a hefty promotion of their films past the opening weekends. Still, Sonic 2 is performing well and assuming it isn’t dented too hard by The Bad Guys next weekend, it will likely settle into a solid and stable domestic run, likely making it to at least $150 million domestic by the end (likely more). I’m urgently curious to see how its next weekend plays out.
Third place went to the aforementioned Lost City which, true to Paramount Pictures’ Class of 2022’s form, had a very sweet hold of -31%-its audience stabilizing further after last weekend’s redeeming -39% hold-and delivering $6.2 million. That takes its domestic total to a sizable $78.3 million and virtually guarantees that it will see at least $90 million domestic by the end of its run. As I’ve mentioned previously, similarly to Sing 2, The Lost City is aimed squarely at older women, and given that another film aimed squarely at that audience is not really showing up until May 20th with the release of Downton Abbey: A New Era, The Lost City has a ton of room to really stretch its legs. Secrets of Dumbledore may have come in as something of a surprise female draw, but given how poorly it opened, its likely short legs, and the fact that it is heavily rooted in Harry Potter lore as opposed to the more user-friendly Lost City, I’m inclined to think that the Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum-starrer will be able to hold it off (after all, it did hold really well against it this weekend). Internationally, the film has begun to expand its footprint with roll-outs in the UK, Australia, and Eastern Europe, although the exact number it is taking in is a bit hard to pin down. Some sources say it has taken in $10 million while others say its total international haul is closer to $20 million, so we can assume its total worldwide gross is somewhere between $88-98 million. In any case, it took top slots in the UK and Australia with France coming soon followed by Brazil, Mexico, Korea, and Japan (all huge markets), so expect its worldwide gross to jump by quite a bit pretty soon.
Fourth place went to the big deal grosser this weekend as Everything, Everywhere, All at Once officially became a mainstream hit. I’ll admit, I’ve been doubting this movie at many, if not every turn. While its strong run in limited release did signal to me that it had the potential to make an impact in the mainstream box office top ten, I was convinced that it was too non-commercial to do any better than fellow artsy A24 release, The Green Knight. Well, as of now, feel free to take away all of my credibility as Everything, Everywhere, All at Once has now overtaken the total domestic haul of The Green Knight with $17.7 million to The Green Knight‘s $17.17 million; and it still has some ways to go! Yes, while I’d personally predicted that Everything, Everywhere, All at Once‘s expansion into full wide release in over 2,000 theaters would dilute the strength of its (so far) hugely successful platform release and cause it to fall by around -50%, the film clearly still has gas in the tank as it didn’t even fall at all. Instead, it grew by +2% and pulled in $6.18 million this weekend! That’s an incredible achievement with absolutely no qualifiers. We rarely see films do this in the mainstream top ten, and even arthouse distributors have struggled to generate these kinds of results from platform releases (starting with a low theater count and steadily expanding into a wide release) as they used to pre-pandemic. In fact, now moving away from comparisons to the run of The Green Knight, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is actually playing more like that of Ex Machina, a seminal A24 title and arguable the film that launched this little-indie-label-that-could into the level of mainstream success it has today (for reference as to how successful it is, A24’s owners were considering a sale of its assets recently and appraisers are currently valuing the studio at between $2.5-3 billion). Ex Machina had a staggeringly strong platform release that saw it expand over five weeks from 4, to 39, to 1,255, to 1,279, and then to 2,004 theaters, over which time it managed to pull in $15 million domestically. The fact that Everything, Everywhere managed to gross more in less time is a testament to not only its strength but also its fantastically executed roll-out by A24. Further cementing the comparison is that the per-theater-averages for both films are strikingly similar over the course of their expansions, starting with around $50K at launch (Ex Machina did that in 4 theaters while Everything, Everywhere managed it in 10), dropping into the $20K range in weekend number two, before hitting between $4,000-5,000 per-theater in weekend three. Everything, Everywhere deviates from the pattern from here on out as it managed a per-theater average of $2,787 in over 2,000 theaters versus Ex Machina’s $1,752, further emphasizing just how much momentum the former has; in fact, Everything, Everywhere‘s per-theater average is greater than bigger titles in the top ten like that of The Lost City, The Batman, and Ambulance. All in all, while I am doubtful that Everything, Everywhere, All at Once will be seeing another jump from weekend to weekend, it’s now essentially guaranteed to make it into the $20+ million range, likely ending with a gross of around $25 million domestic, right alongside Ex Machina and just under Midsommar, making it one of A24’s best-performing films ever. This is a genuinely incredible run for a film of this ilk and this is likely the start of an incredible run in the ancillary market as the film becomes a new cult classic. All A24 should really focus on now is honing an Oscar campaign for Michelle Yeoh who, with her iconic status in the film industry, an “overdue for Oscar recognition” narrative on her side, and a genuine indie-turned-sleeper hit film to nominate her for, has a real shot at winning Best Actress this year. After all, A24 is the studio that managed to lead Ex Machine to a Best Visual Effects win against Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If they play their cards right, Michelle Yeoh absolutely has this in the bag.
Rounding out the top five was this weekend’s (or rather “week’s”, as it was released on a Wednesday) other new release, Father Stu, which failed to capitalize on its religious theming against the Easter Holiday backdrop and only eeked out $5.4 million this weekend. To be perfectly honest, I personally thought it would gross less, closer to $4 million, so its $5.4 million gross, along with its Wednesday-Thursday haul of $2.3 million taking it to $7.7 million total domestic, exceeds my expectations. That said, it’s still a bust. I was surprised to see some chatter from pundits this past weekend who felt that Sony dropped that ball with this one and that it should’ve made more money given the studio’s past track record with religious films. To be fair, they are right about Sony’s history with faith-based fare as they did manged to shepherd films like Courageous (one of my personal favorite faith-based films), War Room, Heaven is for Real, Miracles from Heaven, and even the adorable animated film The Star to very leggy runs and healthy grosses at the domestic box office (the company even has its own Faith-Based film label, Affirm Films). The reason this line of thought surprises me, however, is because Father Stu, at face value, does not look like a real religious film. I admittedly didn’t start seeing trailers for the film until much closer to its release than I would’ve otherwise expected, but most of the promotional material, particularly its poster which features a shaggy Mark Wahlberg posing for a prison photo above an image of him in priest garb looking lost (see the image below for reference), makes this movie look more like a quirky crime drama than anything else. I’m specifically reminded of a short-lived TVLand sitcom from 2015 called Impastor which centered on a fugitive who steals the identity of a local priest in a small town to hide from loan sharks. Long story short, the marketing material doesn’t paint it as the religious film it really is, and thus it had no chance of taking advantage of the Easter frame. To its credit, Father Stu did end up drawing a lot of women to the theaters at 56% of its audience, further cementing this weekend as a great show of strength from the older female demographic, but that’s pretty much all I can say about it. We’ll see if it legs out.
As for the rest of the top ten, it was a lot of familiar faces and expected drops. Morbius took sixth place with a slightly better than expected (at least I thought so) drop of -54% for a gross of $4.73 million. Don’t get too excited though, as that only takes its domestic total to $65.1 million. Worldwide, it stands at $146.44 million so it’s just about $4 million away from breaking even on its $75 million budget; Sony can rest easy for now, knowing that they will not need to take a massive write-down on the film. Seventh place went to Ambulance which dropped an “okay in general” -53%. That said, it is coming off a bad debut of $8.7 million last weekend, so a gross of $4.06 million this weekend provides just enough context for that drop to go from “okay” to “not-so-good”. The film currently stands at a total of $15.67 million domestic and $40.5 million worldwide so we can probably expect it to start popping up for a $20 rental in the next five days, in keeping with Universal’s 17-Day theatrically exclusive window for underperforming titles. Keep an eye out for it on April 24th. Meanwhile, eighth place was home to The Batman with a reliably strong hold of -42% and a gross of $3.76 million, taking its domestic total to $365 million. While international numbers were softer than expected (it currently stands at $751.08 million worldwide), The Batman should be commended for its really strong domestic legs as it’s honestly one of the leggiest movies we’ve seen in a while, even for a comic book superhero film. Sure, No Way Home stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks, but The Batman is a different, and notably less broadly appealing animal that has still managed a solid x2.72 multiplier and has even topped the first Deadpool in terms of its domestic gross. We’ll see what it finalizes with, especially as it just arrived on HBO Max which may or may not take some wind out of its sails (next weekend will be an interesting one to watch), but it will likely be ending with at least $370 million domestic. Good job, Batman!
Finishing off the top ten is one film in two spots! What? How? Well, remember how I always like to bring up that story of when I lived in Gainesville (aka northern-central Florida, aka kind-of-sort-of the middle of nowhere) and I went to the movies the weekend Baahubali 2: The Conclusion was released and saw that the film was playing at my local theater in no less than three languages (Hindi, Telugu, English, and Telugu with English subtitles for good measure)? Well, never underestimate the power of South Indian cinema as ninth and tenth place went to K. F. G. Chapter 2, with the (I assume) the Telugu-language version landing with $2.9 million and the Hindi-language version pulling in $1.7 million. A lot of sources are either ignoring the Hindi version or pooling the grosses together, but I think that this situation is just too interesting not to showcase. Another win with Indian Cinema this year!
Outside the top ten, Uncharted took 11th place with a surprisingly large drop of -55%, owing to its loss of 1,007 theaters. It took in $1.2 million, taking its domestic gross to $145 million, just under the original Sonic The Hedgehog as the second highest-grossing videogame movie of all time at the US box office. It will likely be able to pass up Sonic the Hedgehog and take number one at some point this week, though Sonic 2 is gunning for that crown and will likely steal it swiftly after that. Worldwide, Uncharted stands at $389 million and I am crossing my fingers that it can hit that $400 million mark because that would be sweet!
As for the specialty market, the major new releases failed to make much of a dent, though they presented themselves intriguingly as mirror opposites of one another. Riley Stearns’ Dual opened to a solid (for an indie) $118K, but did so in 157 theaters, thereby watering its per-theater average down to a dismal $753 per theater. Meanwhile, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair opened with a very small $12K, but only opened in three theaters, giving it a per-theater average of $4,250, the fifth-highest per-theater average of the weekend (even above Everything, Everywhere, All at Once). It speaks to a differing set of priorities for the films’ respective distributors, RLJE Films (a subsidiary of AMC Networks) and Utopia. Dual, with its sci-fi genre cloning premise, was probably deemed a bit more mainstream and was thought to be able to command some more mainstream attention box office, hence the wider release (though it will likely be on rental platforms soon), while We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, an artsy horror film about a girl whose reality blurs thanks to an online role-playing game, is clearly looking to court a more arthouse crowd, hence the ultra-limited release. We’ll see if Utopia tries to platform the film in a similar way to their previous indie hit, Shiva Baby, which got a lot of critical acclaim and media attention and managed to stay in theaters for 38 weeks. Like that film, the streaming rights to We’re All Going to the World’s Fair have been sold to HBO Max, so a longer run on the arthouse circuit will serve to bolster awareness of the film when it arrives on the streaming platform.