Meanwhile, Secrets of Dumbledore is definitely dead as a doornail, The Northman did better than expected, and Massive Talentis a pretty massive letdown.
Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Apr 22nd-24th) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Actuals:
- The Bad Guys / $23.9 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Universal (DreamWorks)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 / $15.6 million / -47% / Weekend 3 / Paramount Pictures
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore / $14 million / -67% / Weekend 2 / Warner Bros.
- The Northman / $12.3 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Focus Features
- The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent / $7.1 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Lionsgate
- Everything, Everywhere, All At Once / $5.4 million / -12% / Weekend 5 / A24
- The Lost City / $4.33 million / -30% / Weekend 5 / Paramount Pictures
- Father Stu / $3.3 million / -38% / Weekend 2 / Sony (Columbia Pictures)
- Morbius / $2.3 million / -51% / Weekend 4 / Sony (Columbia)
- Ambulance / $1.8 million million / -56% / Weekend 3 / Universal Pictures
11. The Batman / $1.46 million / -61% / Weekend 8 / Warner Bros.
12. Y Como Es El / $624K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Pantelion Films
13. Uncharted / $470K / -60% / Weekend 10 / Sony (Columbia)
16. Petite Maman / $45K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / NEON (4 theaters, $11,441 per theater)
18. The Duke / $25K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Focus Features (4 theaters, $6,444 per theater)
19. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair / $27K / +115% / Weekend 2 / Utopia
We got a lot of happy surprises this weekend. While not necessarily taking the form of “huge grosses for everyone!” there are two solid overperformances as well as some really strong holds for holdovers. The biggest stories of the weekend, I would argue, involve The Bad Guys and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (which I actually saw this weekend!) and it seems to be a case where a rising tide lifted all boats, which is frankly much more interesting to me than when one movie dominates everything.
In my prediction post, I’d originally saw The Bad Guys competing with Fantastic Beasts 3 for first place, thinking that Secrets of Dumbledore would be able to put up a fight given just how many people have told me they’d like to see it as well as my also having a distinct feeling that The Bad Guys would likely overperform. Trailers and other marketing for the latter all looked mightily good (the animation style is almost 3D CGI but retains a watercolor-like feel to it and I think that’s super neat) and while projections were around $15 million for opening weekend, I felt that $18 million would be much more likely, if not a potential $20 million given how strong the family audience has been since the start of the year. Sure enough, the family audience did come through, powering past $15 million, $18 million, and $20 million to deliver a $24 million opening weekend these past few days. This places it in the number one spot this weekend, not one but two spaces ahead of Secrets of Dumbledore.
To be fair, $24 million is not a huge number; at least not as huge as that of Sonic 2‘s $72 million. That said, The Bad Guys is still set up well for success. $24 million is on par with prior DreamWorks openings for that of Abominable and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, and while neither of those films were particularly big hits, each did have strong legs with a x3 multiple for each. A multiple of that magnitude for The Bad Guys would have it ending with $72 million domestic though, given the strength of family audiences at the multiplex right now and conditions that seem to suggest that Sonic 2 and The Bad Guys are capable of coexisting, a finish between $85-95 million seems much more likely. Combined with the fact that the film opened in several other major territories ahead of its domestic debut and has been doing quite well (it’s up to $63 million internationally since this past weekend), The Bad Guys looks to be another all-around solid hit for DreamWorks since their acquisition by Universal. It once again speaks to the strength of the family audience that has powered Sing 2 and Sonic 2 to great runs at the box office as well as a consistency of quality that DreamWorks showcases in their releases. When looking at The Bad Guys‘ daily grosses over the weekend, we see that Saturday’s $9.35 million gross represents a growth from the $8.01 million gross that was seen on Friday (+17% even without removing Thursday night previews from the equation, which would make for a +35% leap), suggesting that audiences are very much taken with this new offering and its legs will be quite long. With little competition for the family market (outside of Sonic 2) until Lightyear rears its head in June, The Bad Guys has a lot of room to grow.
Speaking of Sonic 2, that film found itself in second place. I was intrigued to see it slightly dented by The Bad Guys which definitely managed to draw kids away and create a heavier drop for the Sonic the Hedgehog sequel than I would’ve expected. Despite that, the hold was still a solid one at -48% and Sonic 2 took in a gross of $15.6 million, taking its domestic haul to $146 million and its worldwide total to $221.1 million (already over twice its budget in just three weekends). It’s a slight recovery from the larger-than-expected (though not at all disastrous) drop of -59% from last weekend and allows Sonic 2 to maintain a healthy +13% lead ahead of its predecessor. It’s also still very much on track to become the highest-grossing videogame film of all time at the domestic box office, likely by next weekend. Furthermore, as mentioned above, it’s nice to see that, with its solid hold, Sonic 2 and The Bad Guys will likely manage to co-exist for the next month and stake out good grosses for themselves. This is likely due to Sonic as a brand having a multigenerational appeal that broadens and slightly alters the composition of its audience compared to that of The Bad Guys, which is based on a more recent children’s book series and thus skews much younger. However it works, seeing multiple films carving out niches for themselves always brings a smile to my face.
Third place was home to the only really big dud this weekend, that being Secrets of Dumbledore which, with a drop of -67% for a gross of $14 million, officially has no hope of recovery. While overseas numbers remain “soft but decent”, domestically, this new (and likely final) Fantastic Beasts installment is being abandoned by audiences. I was personally surprised that this drop was so massive (I thought a -60% would be the worst of it), but it is indicative of just how little people seem to care about this franchise after its last outing. There may be another factor at play here which I didn’t see coming but that could be playing a bigger role than expected. With the release of The Batman on HBO Max this past week, something more people in the general audience seem to be aware of than usual (likely because, well, its The Batman), I get the distinct impression that more and more may be catching on to the new 45-Day theatrically exclusive window for Warner Bros. films; especially as I was told multiple times over this past week by people who are inclined to see Secrets of Dumbledore that they would rather just wait to see it on HBO Max. It all goes back to the idea that there are fewer and fewer adventurous people out there who are willing to take a chance on seeing a movie in theaters (though the performance of Everything, Everywhere stands in direct contrast to that notion) when they can watch it on streaming for “free”. This is due to a variety of factors (multiple entertainment options as well as inflation driving up ticket prices) but the fact is that Secrets of Dumbledore is wrapped up in mixed reviews and “controversy” over J.K. Rowling (which I remain convinced that few people actually care about), so why pay $12-15 to watch it in theaters when you can just wait about a month to stream it. Overall, Secrets of Dumbledore’s box office trajectory looks to play out similarly to Morbius, which itself is likely to end up with about a x2 multiplier and a roughly $75 million domestic gross ($170 million worldwide if it maintains a 44/55 domestic to international split). That would see it finalizing with around $84 million domestic and $350-400 million worldwide at best. Like I said, this will likely be the final Fantastic Beasts film.
Fourth and fifth place were home to the other two new wide releases this weekend, and both performed pretty much as expected. Credit where credit is due, The Northman did come in on the higher end of its $8-12 million opening weekend projections with $12 million in fourth place. My prediction was that IMAX screenings would drive a lot of business for the Viking epic, and while IMAX grosses have not come in, I’m inclined to think it likely did very well as its grosses were pulled into the stratosphere (at least relative to what was expected). Its day-to-day holds were also quite good as it only dropped -17% from Friday to Saturday which tells me that those who saw it generally enjoyed it quite a bit. Now the film’s B Cinemascore from general audiences may beg to differ on that as B scores tend to signal that the film had an issue or element that audiences just couldn’t look past, but Cinemscore polls general audiences and this flick was not designed to be a crowdpleaser. $12 million is the result of a large number of ardent fans, strong IMAX sales, and a genuinely large marketing push by its distributor. Focus Features may not be a major studio (though it is part of a major conglomerate) but they do have the resources to run an effective marketing campaign and reportedly spend a lot of money on ads for The Northman. It makes sense as Focus is not solely the distributor here but also a financier, having put up half of the films’ $70-90 million budget alongside New Regency, so they had a financial incentive to get the word out about The Northman. As I mentioned in my last post, as with most releases like this, the theatrical window of The Northman is likely to play more like an extended marketing campaign for the film given that it will be debuting in the next two weekends in the rental market for $20 a pop. Focus and Universal will be able to recoup much more of the film’s budget in ancillary revenue given that they will retain 80% of the revenue there as opposed to the theatrical share of about 50%, but I am still not sure The Northman will end up being a major hit on streaming. Anything is possible though, and a stronger-than-expected opening weekend is a nice headline to start out with.
Fifth place, meanwhile, went to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent which debuted almost exactly as expected. To be fair, its $7.1 million opening is bigger than the flat $6 million that I was predicting, but that’s still not much to brag about. We’ve discussed this already but Nicolas Cage simply is not the movie star that he once was, and making a movie specifically targetted at those who are more enamored with his straight-to-rental work was never likely to be the sure-fire bet that Lionsgate was (presumably) hoping for. The film, with that title and that premise, was always going to play more “inside baseball” than anything else and so it is frankly a wonder to me that film was greenlit in the first place. Maybe, and that’s a big “maybe”, Lionsgate did indeed have the foresight to see that Massive Talent was more of a potential cult hit than even a moderately successful theatrical release and, like Focus Features, is treating this theatrical engagement as an extension of the film’s marketing so that when it hits PVOD, the ancillary revenue will be huge. The film is budgeted accordingly at about $30 million, which is easily recoupable with rentals, and Lionsgate has experience crafting a cult-hit like Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar. However, that film, as strange and Austin Powers-esque wonderful as it was, was also a lot more accessible than Massive Talent and not built on the specific appeal of a star like Nicolas Cage. I’m intrigued to see what happens here, but sufficed to say, it’s not off to a good start.
As for the rest of the top ten, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once continues to be a miracle worker with a magnificent hold of -12% for a gross of $5.4 million taking its domestic gross to $26.9 million. Truly, that’s fantastic. There really is no other way to describe this film’s performance as it really has become a mainstream hit. No, it’s not a mega-blockbuster like a Marvel movie or anything, but it’s the kind of film that we just don’t really see anymore: an original property based on a kooky idea that comes out, is supported by its distributor, and finds an audience all on its own merits. I saw it this past weekend and, while I do feel that the middle section of the film is a bit bloated with action and succumbs to a bit of “weirdness for the sake of being weird”, the concept is strong, it has a great thematic throughline, and the ending is genuinely moving. Of course, it’s all carried by a very impressive cast that commits wholeheartedly to the premise with not an ounce of vanity in sight, all while still delivering dramatic heft and hitting the right emotional beats (Michelle Yeoh does great work, of course, though my personal favorite cast member is Ke Huy Quan, who has to sell a variety of personas and does so with great skill). A24 really brought everything that had to the table with this film and it is paying dividends as projections for the film’s final domestic gross continue to grow and grow with every passing weekend and every strong hold it manages to achieve. A24 reportedly sold off the international distribution rights to recoup the budget on this film (whether they’ve covered all or some of it, I’m not sure) so they are primarily on the hook for advertising, but with such strong grosses and a campaign that more reliant on word-of-mouth than anything else, I can’t imaging this film being anything but pure profit for them, especially when it hits the ancillary market.
Having outpaced Ex Machina (its most recent comparison in an ever-growing list that includes The Green Knight and Midsommar) by 70.7% at the same point in their respective release cycles as well as outgrossing that film’s final domestic total of $25.4 million, Everything, Everywhere is officially setting its sights on the box office crown jewels of A24: Hereditary, Lady Bird, and Uncut Gems. Each of those films finished their domestic runs in the $45-50 million range. Now, off the bat, Uncut Gems‘ domestic finish doesn’t look realistic (though never say never), but Everything, Everywhere currently is tracking between Lady Bird and Hereditary. The comparison here is not one-to-one as each film had a different style of release/ Hereditary, being a straight horror film, was released as wide as possible (since horror always has mass appeal) and rode out through a normal release while Lady Bird was released in November for awards season and was platformed for six weeks before going wide (though never fully wide) and then was left to ride the Christmas wave, picking up steam along with its Oscar nominations. Everything, Everywhere looks like it’s playing a bit closer to Lady Bird with its platforming (it’s actually is outpacing Lady Bird currently), but lacks the Christmas corridor to beef up its grosses. If it can maintain solid holds though, a final domestic tally of $40 million is absolutely achievable. Next weekend will be crucial given the complete lack of competition in its space (there is a new Liam Neeson movie, Memory, coming out but it’s likely to play to a different audience) and it will be the last weekend for Everything, Everywhere to use its momentum and pull another really strong hold before a certain other multiverse movie opens on May 6th (take a wild guess at which one it is). Everything, Everywhere will likely hit $30 million by the end of this week, so another strong hold will have it between $34-35 million by next Sunday. I can’t wait to see just how far this goes!
Speaking of good holds, The Lost City had another great one with -30% for a gross of $4.33 million, taking its domestic gross to $85.3 million. I’m still hesitant to proclaim that the Sandra Bullock vehicle will hit $100 million domestic, but its continued strength and lack of demographic-specific competition has me inching closer and closer to that conclusion. Right now, $90-95 million looks like the endpoint, though Paramount may decide to increase the film’s theater count late in the game in order to pull it past the century mark. After all, it still has four weeks until Downton Abbey: A New Age to clean up. Internationally, the film continues its staggered rollout though, once again, the numbers are coming in slowly and different outlets are reporting different grosses. Going off Deadline, it looks to have taken in $17.1 million overseas, bringing its international cume to $42.7 million and its worldwide haul to $128 million. It’s nearing $140 million which will be the break-even point on the film’s reported $70 million budget and still has Denmark, the Philipines, and most notably Japan (a huge market) to hit in June.
Eighth place went to Father Stu, dropping a sturdy -38% for a gross of $3.3 million, which has it tracking alongside Courageous, just about 23% behind it at the same point in its release cycle. Faith-based films generally have good legs thanks to their uplifting tones and a dedicated audience niche, so if Father Stu keeps this up, it’s looking at around a $27 million domestic finish. That’s a best-case scenario that assumes there will be little to get in its way, which is unlikely given some crowded weekends coming up. As with Everything, Everywhere, next weekend will be crucial for Father Stu to prove its worth given the lack of competition and the room it has to grow. Finishing off the top ten were Morbius and Ambulance which will be mercifully ending their time with us relatively soon. Morbius fell -51% for a gross of $2.3 million, taking its domestic gross to $69.2 million, while Ambulance fell -56% (punishing after last weekend’s -53% drop and really indicating a severe lack of interest in the film) for a gross of $1.8 million to take its domestic total to $19.2 million. Unlike Morbius, which already broke even on its budget and will likely recoup its marketing and distribution costs in ancillaries, Ambulance will likely finalize with $22 million domestic (at best) and $53 million worldwide meaning it will not break even in theaters. Thankfully, it will most likely be hitting rental platforms for $20 a pop sometime this week and Ambulance does look like the kind of film that will play well in that market.
Outside the top ten, we must take a moment to note the performance of The Batman, which bucked the recent trend of strongly performing films managing to continue their said box office runs unencumbered by a streaming release. While film’s like A Quiet Place Part II and Sing 2 had no issues maintaining strong holds despite being released on Paramount+ and rental platforms, respectively, The Batman, which I had originally expected to take Ambulance‘s number ten spot, fell a staggering -61% in its eighth weekend, the first in which it was simultaneously playing on HBO/HBO Max. Some factors to consider here are that while both A Quiet Place II and Sing 2 were streaming concurrently with their theatrical releases, Paramount+ (in the case of the former) doesn’t have a particularly large subscriber base, and Sing 2 was originally priced at $20 to rent (though that didn’t stop many families from renting it at the time), so it’s possible that neither streaming release had that much of an effect. Heck, Godzilla vs Kong and Dune were each released concurrently in theaters and on HBO Max from the get-go and arguably made just about as much as they would’ve made without being available to stream (there’s an argument for Dune maybe making more theatrically, but it would be by a minuscule amount). All that said, neither was released on the actual HBO channel (whose subscriber count is looped in with HBO Max’s, but is definitely greater than said SVOD given the longevity and name-recognition of the brand) until months after their theatrical windows had ended. The Batman also had the benefit of being very leggy in the domestic market and grossing over 3x what GvK and Dune did, so by the time the film appeared on streaming platforms, anyone who hadn’t already seen it officially decided to skip out on seeing it theaters. Also notable is that The Batman, which was already on the tail end of its run by this time, did end up losing over 700 theaters this past weekend (its biggest drop), not only due to it beginning to finish its run at the box office but also because three new wide release came into the mix to claim screens. I’m personally inclined to think that this factor, in particular, contributed the most to its drop, but the fact that it was so big compared to its other drops is startling given the level of momentum it still had. No matter the reason, it looks like The Batman will officially be finalizing with a $370 million domestic gross.
Finishing off with specialty releases, Petite Maman won the weekend with a pretty damn big per-theater average of $11,441 per theater in just four theaters, $5,000 more than its nearest competitor, the more commercial The Duke. It’s not a gigantic average (not the kind you would be able to launch a healthy Oscar campaign over at least) but it cements Celine Sciamma as a force in the arthouse/foreign market. The aforementioned The Duke only took in $25K total in four theaters for a per-theater average of $6,444 so I don’t necessarily see it platforming well, though it could do solid business over the next few weeks as a solely limited release, a la Bleecker Street’s I’m Your Man, before segueing into a healthy run in the ancillary market. Notably, a Spanish film from Pantelion, Y Como Es El, made it to the number 12 spot with $624K while Uncharted came in right behind it at number 13 with $470K, keeping slightly ahead of Sonic 2 as the highest-grossing domestic videogame film of all time for just one more weekend with $145.9 million (it will be losing that title in the next day or two but, great effort Sony!). Finally, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair expanded into 38 theaters and saw a great jump of +115% to $27K. We’ll see if it sticks around as an arthouse staple for the next few months like Shiva Baby before it.