Weekend Box Office Top 10 (May 20th-May 22md) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Actuals:
- Doctor Stranger in the Multiverse of Madness / $32.8 million / -48% / Weekend 3 / Disney
- Downton Abbey: A New Era / $16 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Focus Features
- The Bad Guys / $6.1 million / -13% / Weekend 5 / Universal (DreamWorks)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 / $4.1 million / -12% / Weekend 7 / Paramount Pictures
- Men / $3.3 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / A24
- Everything, Everywhere, All At Once / $3.13 million / -6% / Weekend 9 / A24
- FireStarter / $1.98 million / -48% / Weekend 2 / Universal (w/ Peacock)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore / $1.95 million / -24% / Weekend 5 / Warner Bros.
- The Lost City / $1.56 million / -8% / Weekend 9 / Paramount Pictures
- The Northman / $1.05 million / -40% / Weekend 5 / Focus Features
19. The Roundup / $112K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Capelight Pictures ($7,524 per theater in 15 theaters)
It ended up being a surprisingly quiet weekend this weekend as there were no eye-popping debuts (though there were some eye-popping holds). It’s to e expected as Downton Abbey is no blockbuster, despite some lofty expectations given its predecessor’s performance, and Men sees A24 returning to its specific brand of polarizing arthouse horror. Still, there was some interesting news as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks to be turning a corner in its box office run and The Lost City hit a major milestone.
For the past two weeks, I’ve trying to pinpoint just what Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be ending up on with regard to its box office performance. Obviously, the comparison is not one-to-one, but so far I’ve seen a few paths for it, most notably comparisons with Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. With last weekend’s massively steep drop of -69%, it seemed like Batman vs Superman was the direction it was headed in. However, Multiverse of Madness appears to have had a reprieve of sorts as it managed to hold by -48% this past weekend for a gross of $32 million in first place. This takes it to a total domestic gross of $342 million, and with a -50% internationally, the film has taken in a total of $803 million.
With that hold, Multiverse of Madness seems to be slipping into a pattern more reminiscent of Spider-Man: Homecoming wherein it opened big, dropped hard in the second week, and then looks to be stabilizing from here on out. It’s still notably frontloaded, but it was pointed out to me that this actually makes a lot of sense. Given that the film was hyped up as a major, “Avengers-level” event in the vein of Civil War, just as in the case of that film, all the hardcore fans showed up in the first weekend and created that large drop in the second. Now the hype is dying down, it could be hypothesized that the more casual fans of the franchise of slowly trickling in. Mixed reactions to the film are certainly not helping audience attendance, but this kind of hold indicates that Multiverse of Madness isn’t necessarily going to drop like a rock. While $1 billion worldwide doesn’t look like it’s in the cards, I do think the film has the momentum to pull it past $900 million; which, when viewed as a Doctor Strange sequel and not an MCU “event”, is still pretty strong.
As for second place, Downton Abbey: A New Era, ended up coming in under projections with $16 million. This is pretty surprising given that the film was tracking for an $18-20 million debut earlier in the weekend. Reportedly, earlier projections did have the film opening to the tune of $16 million, but it’s hard not to consider this something of an underperformance. That’s a bit surprising because, when you consider the general behavior of sequels to surprise hits, A New Era is performing pretty much within the norm. There is a saying out there for some movie franchises that states “People were only curious the first time.” As harsh of a critique as that might sound, it has been proven time and time again that curiosity is a major factor in a movie’s success; whether or not the film genuinely piques the interest of moviegoers, for good or bad reasons. One of my all-time favorite examples of this is the first Suicide Squad movie, a movie that I personally consider to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Its reviews were pretty uniformly terrible, citing a hack editing job that cut the movie to bits and made it feel wildly disjointed and incohesive as well as tonal inconsistency on top of what was an otherwise boring story about super villains wandering around an abandoned city for two hours. For all intents and purposes, no one came away from that film with a good impression, and yet, it managed to gross $325 million domestic and $745 million worldwide (not to mention surprisingly decent legs with a x2.43 multiplier). How could this be? Don’t people generally only like to pay for movies that they like? Yes, and that’s the key here. It was hard to fathom that a movie like Suicide Squad, a major entry in the burgeoning DCEU which had been preceded by genuinely fantastic trailers, could really be that bad. Maybe people were just too harsh? Curiosity to find out is what drove me to see it, and I’m willing to bet that most people who did see it saw it for all the same reasons, driving it to such incredible heights in spite of itself.
Sure enough, however, the sequel ended up being a major bomb. Sure, a five-year gap between films and a pandemic certainly didn’t help the proceedings, but if Godzilla vs Kong was able to top $400 million worldwide, there was certainly room for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, which was based on an established comic book property and centered a fan-favorite character in Harley Quinn, to be a smash. Instead, it pooped out with a mere $55 million domestic gross and a total worldwide haul of $167 million, and why wouldn’t have. Audiences where only curious the first time around, and having been burned by the first film, hardcore DC fans struggled to get themselves to theaters (even though I would argue most were pleasantly surprised at The Suicide Squad‘s massive uptick in quality) and, arguably more importantly, casual moviegoers abandoned the film entirely.
The funny thing is that even if the original Suicide Squad had been a better movie, there still would’ve been a major chance of the sequel underperforming. Many a breakout hit have seen their respective sequels tapper off in terms of their box office performance due to audiences only being curious the first time around. An immediate example that springs into my mind is that of Sing 2, which does have several asterisks given that both it and its predecessor sing were massive successes in their own rights and were each Christmas releases which skews their numbers, but that film not only opened to $10 million less than its predecessor, it also ended its run with just over $400 million worldwide versus the original Sing‘s $631 million. In both cases, Christmas releases created a scenario where tons of families were off from school and available to see the films, each of which had solid reviews, yet the sequel took in 36% less than its predecessor because many families took one look at Sing 2 and said, “Been there, done that.” Funnily enough, given that A New Age is a Focus release, the film technically comes from the Universal Pictures stable of brands just as Sing 2 did. Both films also share a home with several examples of breakout hits that produced lesser-performing installments. Ted 2, a sequel to the massive breakout hit that was Ted, earned 38% less on opening weekend than the original and ended up taking in less than have of the orignal’s worldwide gross. Neighbors 2, a sequel to the more moderately performing (but still quite successful) Neighbors, opened with 55% less than its predecessor and took in a total that barely crossed $100 million worldwide (compared to the original’s $270 million). Even a movie like Happy Death Day, a surprisingly clever and well-made horror comedy with a dynamite lead actress that broke out nicely and became a mega-hit compared to its small budget, saw its sequel taking 63% less on opening weekend and (once again) about half of the original’s total gross.
Sure enough, Downton Abbey: A New Age falls squarely in that camp. A $16 million opening is about half the opening of the original, and if ends up legging out like the original (which I fully expect it to do), it will end its run with about $50 million domestic and a little over $100 million worldwide (once again, about half the total worldwide haul of the original). Still, I did expect the film to do a bit better, largely because it catered to such a specific audience. We’ve seen, with the likes of The Lost City, Sonic 2 (an example of the audiences being not curious, but genuinely excited the first time around and thus turning the sequel into an even bigger hit than the first thanks to anticipation and bringing in new fans in the intervening years), and The Bad Guys all performing very well thanks to being positioned as counterprogramming, and thus implicitly a “shiny” alternative to the popular big movie of the moment. Given just how well the first Downton Abbey movie did and how it managed still play well with audiences who hadn’t seen the original series, I figured that this sequel would have the benefit of not losing the casual viewers of the first flick. After all, in the wake of the original’s success, the series was added to Netflix again for the first time in about a decade where it regularly charted, signifying people watching it. Clearly, however, these weren’t necessarily new fans as much as they were old fans coming back to rediscover the magic. Sure though, the prospect of a Downton Abbey movie was only enough to “make people curious the first time around”. This time, casual audiences didn’t return and the film played strictly to the fans. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. A $16 million opening is still solid, and did indeed drive a lot of business in theaters from the aged 55+ crowd, which is hard to do these days, plus, on a moderately high $40 million budget, a $100 million worldwide finish for the film will allow it to break relatively even as it slides into what is bound to be a very lucrative run in the ancillary market. I was hoping for better, but there’s no need to be disappointed.
Looking at the rest of the top five, The Bad Guys and Sonic 2 each pulled away better holds than I would’ve imagined as they continue to corner the market on “kid-friendly” fare. The Bad Guys posted a fabulous -13% hold with a gross of $6.1 million in third place, thereby bringing its domestic total to $74.4 million and its worldwide total to $184 million. The Bad Guys has soared ahead of its normal comparison, Captain Underpants, and looks like it will at least hit $90 million domestic. The real story, however, continues to be its international box office where the film held by an amazing -6% and crossed $100 million overseas! With continued strong holds hear and abroad, and a complete lack of competition until Lightyear in mid-June, a $200 million worldwide finish appears almost inevitable. Meanwhile, Sonic 2 managed to hold by a fantastic -12% and gross $4.09 million in fourth place. Domestically, it stands at $181 million and while $200 million is not a guarantee, it’s getting awfully close ($190 million actually looks doable!). Worldwide, the film stands at $368 million. $400 million doesn’t look like its going to happen, but with this result, Paramount really has nothing to be upset over.
Fifth place ended up being home to Men, which did indeed prove thoroughly uncommercial as it opened to just $3.3 million. While A24 might have expected to be another Hereditary or Midsommar, what they seem to be getting here is another The Lighthouse (which actually opened to a similar $3.02 million when it debuted in wide release), a delight to critics and cinephiles, but one that will make little impact on the box office. The film’s performance was so poor, in fact, that here in Miami, it appears as though the film will cease being in theaters after this coming Thursday. Whether this is because theater owners are dissatisfied with it or because A24 wants to send it to the ancillary market right away (where it will likely play better as a cult film in the making), I can’t be sure, but it’s definitely odd and I will be curious to see how pulling it early with affect its run going forward.
In sixth place, A24 had the exact opposite situation with Everything, Everywhere, All at Once showcasing another absolutely phenomenal hold of just -6%!!!!! Phenomenal really is the right word here as Everything, Everywhere is officially a box office phenomenon. It managed to hit the mark we were all hopping for ($50 million domestic) early this week and now sits at a domestic total of $52.2 million. Honestly, the film is legging out like that of The Greatest Showman, and while it doesn’t have the benefit of a Christmas corridor to beef up its grosses and pull it past the century mark, Everything, Everywhere‘s performance is so damn strong that it deserves to go down in the history books as once of the orchestrated film releases of all time. In its ninth weekend of release, the film is still grossing over $3 million and maintaining a per-theater average gross of nearly $2,000 per theater. That’s the sixth highest per-theater average of the weekend (for perspective, Multiverse fo Madness‘ $7,152 per-theater average is the second highest of the weekend) and it doesn’t look to be slowing down at all, no matter how many theaters it loses. If it were to indeed leg out just like The Greatest Showman, we’d see it with about an x11 multiplier which would translate into a domest gross of roughly $68 million, far beyond what anyone could have ever imagined for this quirky and audacious indie. Obviously, its not an apples-to-apples comparison (not only did Greatest Showmanhave the Christmas corridor, but it’s also of a totally different genre, and Everything, Everywhere also started in limited release), but if you think a Greatest Showman-level multiplier of x11 is out of the question, you should first not that Everything, Everywhere‘s multiplier is actually x8.45 already. Even x10 is a genuine possibility and it looks more an more like the film will finish with at least $60 million domestic. No matter what happens, watching this film succeed weekend after weekend is just pure joy.
As for the rest of the top ten, FireStarter ended up in seventh with a stronger-than-expected hold of -48%; though it only grossed $1.98 million so that reprieve is very short-lived. Secrets of Dumbledore knocked out another surprisingly strong hold of -24%(!) in eighth place and grossed $1.95 million. There’s still no way it will make it to $100 million domestically, but given the reviews $93.1 million is surprisingly strong and really sets the stage for the film to absolutely explode on HBO Max as those who have been holding out for finally tune in (we’ll likely find out next week for its streaming debut). Worldwide, it stands at $388 million and may just pass $400 million worldwide after all.
Ninth place was home to my personal favorite movie in the top ten, The Lost City, which has finally managed to hit the mark I was waiting for….almost. Technically, no, it has not hit $100 million domestically, but it is enormously close to doing so. Having dropped only -8% in its ninth weekend of release (another film performing really well in its ninth weekend; Everything, Everywhere and The Lost City, what a combo!), it grossed $1.56 million which has officially taken the film to a domestic total of $99.3 million. Unless some cataclysmic event occurs and all prints of the film are sucked into a black hole or something, The Lost City will (finally!) hit $100 million domestic at some point this week. I’m so thankful that Paramount did not wildly drop the film’s theater count after it debuted on Paramount+, especially since (as the numbers tell us), having the film stream concurrently is clearly not affecting the box office at all given. It’s arguably even holding stronger than it had been in previous weeks when it was a theatrical exclusive and whether that’s because not many people have Paramount+ or because people are indeed watching it on the service and then recommending it to others who promptly go to see it theaters, it’s just great to see a film like this do so well will no qualifiers. Both The Lost City and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once have grossed more domestically than all of the Best Picture nominees from last year, aside from Dune whose $108 million gross The Lost City is actually not far off from. These two films are testament to originality (even if The Lost City is a rip-off of Romancing the Stone; who cares all that much?), to old-school movie magic, and just to the plain and simple appeal of a fun time at the movies. Worldwide, The Lost City sits at $175 million and I expect it to top out at a crisp $180 million before seguing into the ancillary market where it will make an absolute killing. Congratulations to Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and the whole cast and crew! In this day and age, in this market, this achievement cannot be overstated!
Finally, in tenth place, we bit adieu to The Northman, sending it off with dignity as it holds by a rock solid -40% with a gross of $1.05 million. It;s fitting to see the film land at number ten, especially as it walks the line between commercial and arthouse filmmaking. With a domestic gross of $33 million, I must admit I’m very impressed as I was expecting an domestic total closer to $25 million. Worldwide, it stands a a very modest $63 million, but I do expect it to have lucrative second life in the ancillary market. Who knows, maybe it will be even be a major Oscar player. Specialty-wise, many of our favorite have since tapered off though I will make mention of The Roundup. A sequel to the Korean film Outlaws which follows a cop who follows a criminal to another country only to get wrapped up in a wide criminal plot, the film did manage to pull in a per-theater average of over $7,000, actually besting that of Multiverse of Madness. Quite the achievement. In other news, Uncharted officially passed $400 million worldwide thanks to a last minute overseas bump, making it the fourth highest grossing video game film of all time. Expect a sequel to be mapped out soon!