Jurassic World: Dominion Roars to Life at the Box Office and Dents Top Gun in the Process!! Slightly…Not By Much.

The rest of the top saw very healthy holds as The Lost City bid farewell!

Weekend Box Office Top 10 (June 10th-12th) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Estimates:

  1. Jurassic World: Dominion / $145.07 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Universal Pictures
  2. Top Gun: Maverick / $51.85 million / -42% / Weekend 3 / Paramount Pictures
  3. Doctor Stranger in the Multiverse of Madness / $5.2 million / -43% / Weekend 6 / Disney
  4. The Bad Guys / $2.53 million / -24% / Weekend 8 / Universal (DreamWorks)
  5. The Bob’s Burgers Movie / $2.46 million / -47% / Weekend 3 / Disney (20th Century Studios)
  6. Downton Abbey: A New Era / $1.75 million / -45% / Weekend 4 / Focus Features
  7. Everything, Everywhere, All At Once / $1.27 million / -37% / Weekend 12 / A24
  8. FireStarter / $833K / +733% / Weekend 5 / Universal Pictures
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 / $750K million / -56% / Weekend 10 / Paramount Pictures
  10. Ante Sundaraniki / $621K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Prime Media Pictures

Notable Outsiders:

11. The Lost City / $543K million / -61% / Weekend 12 / Paramount Pictures

12. Crimes of the Future / $374K million / -66% / Weekend 2 / NEON

14. Watcher / $355 / -59% / Weekend 2 / IFC Midnight

22. The Phantom of the Open / $35K / +40% / Weekend 2 / Sony Pictures Classics

39. RRR / $11K / +131% / Weekend 12 / Sarigama Cinemas

Turns out, any fears one had about Jurassic World: Dominion underperforming were a waste of worry as the film debuted to $145 million this past week. No, it’s not an Avengers-level opening like the first Jurassic World ($208 million), but that opening gross is only -2% off from the opening of Fallen Kingdom, which is a feat in and of itself. That film debuted in 2018 to a notably mixed reception after the warmer regards received by the previous installment and cemented a sort of “hate” toward the franchise. Combined with what was supposed to be a three-year gap between films being stretched into four due to the pandemic, making the last installment feel as though it came out eons ago, the fact that Dominion was able to essentially match its opening is almost miraculous and speaks to the viability of Jurassic Park as a brand.

There was good reason to be concerned going in given just how poorly received previous films in the franchise have been. Sure, Jurassic World did manage solid reviews and incredible box office when it debuted in 2015, but outside of it (and the original), most have viewed each successive Jurassic film as more and more ridiculous and tired. Combined with the fact that the movie was filmed during the pandemic (which has typically necessitated that material be cut from scripts and that productions scale themselves down) and has received the worst reviews of any film in the franchise, on paper, it looked as though this movie should’ve been DOA. Clearly though, Universal knew two things. One, they knew that people love this brand. The franchise has had a following for years (hence why it has been around since 1990) and is pretty unique in several respects. Scott Mendelson of Forbes has pointed out multiple times that Jurassic Park/World is the only franchise on the market right now that provides massive, theater-worthy, yet still family-friendly spectacle in the form of sci-fi-adjacent action-adventure movies that happen to feature dinosaurs. That’s all that really needs to be said, dinosaurs. Where else do we get dinosaurs in our entertainment? Outside of a few wacky b-pictures, the Jurassic franchise has that market cornered and will always be able to bring the goods in that respect.

That brings me to the second thing Universal knew about this movie: that it had the goods. I actually saw Dominion this past weekend in a pretty crowded theater. Personally, while I have enjoyed all the previous installments of the Jurassic World franchise quite a bit (more so than I would’ve expected as I don’t have much of a personal connection to Jurassic Park overall), I found myself noticeable underwhelmed with this latest offering. It was fun, don’t get me wrong. I had a good time watching Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and particularly DeWanda Wise (she’s so damn charismatic!) run from and/or fight dinosaurs at various points in the movie, it was neat to see Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum return in pretty substantial capacities, and I will actually defend *Slight Spoilers* the locust plotline as I thought it was a genuinely intriguing and surprisingly organic direction to take the franchise in given the story’s roots in genetic engineering. However, when all is said and done, the movie cannot help but feel contrived. Characters enter the plot seemingly at random, get very little development, and then are asked to do things alongside other characters with whom they have no connection. The main plot is disjointed and certain characters make decisions simply because the story necessitates it. Even the climactic meeting and subsequent team-up of the older franchise veterans with the Jurassic World newcomers, a major selling point for the film, feels very cold and hard to get invested in. I said “contrived” earlier and that really does feel like the best descriptor for this film; still fun, but lacking in the energy of the other movies.

Now, you may read that and think, “So, does the movie have the goods or not?” I can tell you for a fact that it does. Sure, the proceedings play out in a much colder fashion than I would’ve liked, but the film checks all the boxes with gusto, featuring dino-centric action (where the movie honestly shines brightest), scientific intrigue, colorful characters portrayed by actors who are 100% game (Bryce Dallas Howard deserves a shoutout here as she is a very capable actress who never phones it in, taking this role seriously and captivating the audience with her commitment; I appreciate it very much), and even gets extra points for the nostalgia of seeing the original cast members step right back into their roles. I may not have loved my experience with Dominion but my audience absolutely did and made it very clear by actively clapping throughout the film, at first in fits and spurts before doing so in unison as the credits rolled. The movie may be overstuffed with characters and plot, but my audience was craving it all, and they ate really well as a result. The movie’s male/female demographics were split relatively even with 56% to 44% with the 18-34 age demo making up 46% of the audience and children loving the movie the most at 92% (overall, the film got an A- Cinemascore, just like Fallen Kingdom). 58% of tickets sold came from walk-up business, suggesting that Dominion was the default family movie this past weekend, a movie that everyone of any age could enjoy, which bodes extremely well for its box office legs down the line. Indeed, that’s the only area of concern left for the film given its reviews, and it will be interesting to see whether or not (now that it’s out and word-of-mouth can take hold) the film will be affected by more negative sentiments. However, given the broad appeal of these dinosaur adventures, I’m not inclined to be worried. With a total worldwide gross of $391 million to date, buoyed by strong international grosses thanks to an early overseas rollout (another smart movie on Universal’s part to get ahead of negative reviews), Jurassic World: Dominion is very well set up to succeed.

Further testament to how well Dominion did this weekend is that it dented Top Gun: Maverick! Now, to be fair, Top Gun is just fine as it only fell by -42% and still grossed $51 million this past weekend, but I was still shocked to see it. Given the momentum that the film has, as well as the singular appeal of Tom Cruise, I was expecting it to hold in the 30s. I guess one could argue that Tom Cruise’s appeal is not all that singular and that the reason that film is doing so well is that it is so broadly well-liked by nearly everyone on the planet. In that regard, it speaks to the broad appeal of Jurassic World: Dominion that said film could lure the audience away from Top Gun the way it did, even with such dismal reviews, and suggests that Top Gun is still skewing older than most other films. No matter though, as Top Gun still hit $395 million domestic this weekend, making it the second highest-grossing film at the domestic box office this year beneath Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; a film whose gross Top Gun is likely to pass domestically by the end of today. If it continues to perform like this, there is a distinct possibility that it will end up with at least a $500 million domestic total, which is absolutely insane. Internationally, it held by another staggering -39% for a gross of 52.7 million this weekend, taking its worldwide total to $748 million. $800 million is absolutely happening by the end of this week, which will make the film the second highest-grossing movie of the year worldwide (it’s currently third, right behind The Batman at $769 million) and $900 million is a genuine possibility. Heck, pundits are even beginning to project that the film will hit $1 billion by the end of its run. As with The Lost City, I’m not comfortable saying that it will make it to a specific gross like that, but Paramount did make sure that said Sandra Bullock vehicle hit the prized benchmark of $100 million domestic, so you can rest assured that Paramount will pull out all the stops to get Maverick as close to $1 billion as possible.

Third place was home to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which continues its steady descent with a solid -43% drop and a gross of $5.2 million. Having hit $900 million, the movie really doesn’t have all that much to prove. It may have fallen short of some billion-dollar expectations, but not by all that much. I see it finishing with something between $950-960 million worldwide when all is said and done. Fourth place saw another strong hold by The Bad Guys as it snagged the audience demographic that was too young to see Jurassic World. It held by -24% and grossed $2.5 million, taking its domestic total to $91 million and its worldwide cume to $230 million. Rounding out the top five, Bob’s Burgers continues to fade fast, as is to be expected, though it posted a respectable hold of -47% and took in $2.46 million. It’s only taken in $29 million worldwide ($27 million of that gross is domestic), but I would be curious to know how much it costs as, while the animation budget is definitely higher for a theatrical release, I imagine the 2-D styling, as well as the fact that the models are already made from the TV show, might make the movie relatively cheap. It probably won’t turn a profit theatrically, but maybe it breaks even?

As for the rest of the top ten, Downton Abbey: A New Age held respectably again with a -45% drop but it is not going to hit my original projected target of $50 million domestic. It has only just now reached the $40 million mark and took in just $1.7 million this past weekend in sixth place. Worldwide, it’s only grossed $85 million, a sharp comedown from the former’s $194 million finish, though at least it can take solace in having broken even theatrically (and it will likely do great business in the downstream market). On the opposite end of that spectrum, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once took seventh place with a much stronger -37% hold and a gross of $1.27 million. That film still seems to have a lot of life in it as it has not only hit $63 million domestic, but it’s also dominating the rental market. Its per-theater average no longer sits above $1,000, but Everything, Everywhere has such a stable audience that it is unlikely to disappear for the next couple of weeks. The real shocker of the weekend, however, was FireStarter, which popped back into the top ten with a shocking +733% growth in its grosses from weekend to weekend! Now, that’s not saying much in the grand scheme of things as it only pulled in $833K in eighth place from that leap (currently, it sits at $9.2 million total domestically), but it’s surprising nonetheless as everyone thought that FireStarter was already in the rearview mirror. The only explanation I can think of for this occurrence is that Universal must have sold tickets to FireStarter as part of a double-feature with Jurassic World. Given that the studio owns both films, they have some incentive to use the newest installment of a popular franchise to buoy one of their flailing entries as well as charge more to moviegoers for a double feature and pocket a bigger percentage of the revenue. Disney did this back in 2018 by tacking screenings of their flopping adaptation A Wrinkle in Time on to the end of the eventual billion-dollar grosser that was Captain Marvel. This effort was so successful that it helped pull A Wrinkle in Time past $100 million domestically, so it’s not surprising to see another studio try this technique; just surprising that Universal choose to do it with non-starter FireStarter of all movies.

Finishing off the top ten, Sonic 2 dropped -56% for a gross of $750K in ninth, thanks in large part to the loss of 1,067 theaters, likely to make room for Jurassic World: Dominion. Looks like it will be ending its run with just about $190 million domestically (still very strong), though I’ll keep an eye out for it next week as it’s less than $2 million away from a worldwide cume of $400 million, nearly $100 million more than its predecessor (amazing!). Tenth place was home to an Indian release, Telugu-language rom-com Ante Sundranaiki (whose title translates to the really cute, “The thing about Sundar is!) which follows a Brahmin who falls in love with a Christian girl and tries to train her to become a Brahmin so his parent will approve of her. Courtesy of Prime Media Pictures, who brought us Vikram last weekend, this release only took in $621K, but it looks adorable so I hope to catch it later down the line (I’m on a bit of a Telugu cinema high after RRR). Sadly, this weekend marked The Lost City‘s exit from the top ten as it fell to eleventh place with a loss of 458 theaters, a drop of -61%, and a gross of $543K. It’s hard to be too upset though, knowing that this delightful romp made it past $100 million domestically and sits at a sturdy $187 million worldwide. Now, I await Bullet Train to carry on the torch for original, non-IP-driven star vehicles for the rest of the year.

In the specialty market, Crimes of the Future had a hefty drop of -67% and a gross of $374K, while Watcher dropped a more respectable (and more commercial, for that matter) -59% for a gross of $335K. I actually saw it this past weekend and am ashamed to say that I fell asleep in the middle of the film. To its credit, that’s more so because of the film’s atmosphere and hypnotic visuals rather than it being boring, and I can see why it has gotten such good reviews (director Chloe Okuno is very much in command of her craft), but I missed a chunk of the story and thereby didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would. I’ll still probably rent it down the line to see what I missed. Elsewhere, The Phantom of the Open expanded into 24 theaters and saw a +40% boost to $35K, though it’s not opening in Miami until this coming weekend and I can’t stand the thought of waiting much longer to see it. Give me my quirky, fun Mark Rylance golf-movie already!!!! Its per-theater average is $1,487, above The Bad Guys‘ $1,049 and just below The Lost City‘s and Doctor Strange‘s respective $1,540 and $1,559 averages, so that bodes well for its commercial prospects. Lastly, RRR‘s rerelease expanded into 7 theaters and took in $1,682 per-theater which is monumental! Several theater owners suspect that this film may be a “gateway drug” into Indian cinema for many mainstream moviegoers, and with grosses like that, I suspect it very well is!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s