Box Office Top 10 (July 1st-July 3rd) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / 4-Day Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Actuals:
- Thor: Love and Thunder / $144.16 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Disney (Marvel)
- Minions: The Rise of Gru / $46.12 million / -57% / Weekend 2 / Universal (Illumination)
- Top Gun: Maverick / $15.5 million / -40% / Weekend 7 / Paramount Pictures
- Elvis / $18.4 million / $11.18 million / -39% / Weekend 3 / Warner Bros.
- Jurassic World: Dominion / $8.599 million / -47% / Weekend 5 / Universal
- The Black Phone / $7.78 million / -36% / Weekend 3 / Universal (Blumhouse)
- Lightyear / $3.08 million / -52% / Weekend 4 / Disney (Pixar)
- Marcel the Shell With Shoes On / $322K / +23% / Weekend 3 / A24
- Mr. Malcolm’s List / $255K / -69% / Weekend 2 / Bleecker Street Media
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness / $245K / -41% / Weekend 10 / Disney
11. Everything, Everywhere, All At Once / $238K / -57% / Weekend 16 / A24
14. Official Competition / $97K / -33% / Weekend 4 / IFC Films
15. The Forgiven / $67K / -50% / Weekend 2 / Focus Features
19. Fire of Love / $22K / $40K (5-Day) / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / NEON ($7,472 per-theater average in 3 theaters over the 3-Day; $13,591 per-theater average in 3 theaters over the 5-Day)
Did Thor: Love and Thunder underperform? To quote Bill Murray in my favorite movie of all time, “That’s a loaded question.” The film debuted to the tune of $144.1 million domestically and $159 million internationally for a global debut of $302 million. It’s an undeniably large amount of money, but is it up to MCU standards? That too is a “loaded” question as the MCU has been in flux as of late. Post-Endgame, the franchise has branched out into television, begun to shine the spotlight on newer, less established characters, and has had to weather a pandemic, all after breaking some of the biggest box office records of all time. No, they have had one billion-dollar picture since Endgame, but all things considered, I’d say $432 million for Shang-Chi (an origin story film), $1.886 billion for No Way Home, and $947 million for Multiverse of Madness isn’t half bad; even amidst the flops of Black Widow and Eternals. So, we ask, “Where does that leave Thor?”
To answer the original question (“Did Thor: Love and Thunder underperform?”) with a yes or a no, I’d say yes, it did underperform. On the surface, I would’ve absolutely pegged Thor: Love and Thunder as guaranteed to hit $150 million at minimum in its opening weekend given that it is technically the sequel to a major breakout film in Thor: Ragnarok. With both of the original Thor films being leggy but minor box office performers amid other MCU titles, the boldly colorful and wickedly hilarious Ragnarok was quite the shot in the arm for Thor as a character and the film’s box office responded accordingly with the franchise’s first ever $100+ million opening ($122 million to be exact) and a massive worldwide cume of $850.4 million; $206 million more than its much-maligned predecessor, Thor: The Dark World. Given the goodwill engendered by this franchise entry and the highly publicized return of Taika Waititi to the director’s chair (the first Thor director to do so), as well as the added value element of Natalie Portman’s return in the role of Jane Foster, Thor: Love and Thunder was set up very well to capitalize on the wave of Ragnarok and, by all accounts, should probably have hit $150 million. So yes, its $144 million opening is an underperformance given all those factors.
Can you sense a ‘however’ coming? Well, here it is: However………..while I do think $144 million does constitute an underperformance, I do not think that its a failure. Far from it, $144 million is not at all that perilously far off from the $150 million Love and Thunder ideally would’ve pulled in. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, Love and Thunder‘s opening still builds on an upward trajectory for the Thor franchise. The first Thor opened with $65 and grossed a total of $449 million, The Dark World opened with $85 million and finalized with $644 million, and Ragnarok pulled in $122 million before ending with a worldwide cume of $850 million. Love and Thunder has already topped Ragnarok by $22 million and is reportedly 19% ahead of Ragnarok globally so clearly Love and Thunderis off to at least a solid start, if not the best start it could have.
With all that in mind, the real question becomes whether or not the film will have legs, and that is where the film’s prospects are not shining as bright as they could. To say that I am shocked that Love and Thunder is proving itself to be the most divisive of the post-Endgame MCU films so far would be the understatement of the year. While there may have been in-fighting amongst fans when each was first released, practically all of the Phase Four films have a relative critical consensus: Black Widow was mediocre, Shang-Chi was surprisingly well-crafted, Eternals was a dull mess, No Way Home was pure fun popcorn entertainment, and Multiverse of Madness was not as great as it could have been. Love and Thunder, on the other hand, is being hailed by some as the freshed MCU movie in years while others are branding it messy and overdone. Personally, I get where the dissent is coming from. Having seen it this weekend, I can say that while I enjoyed the film, laughed a lot, and found it far from terrible, I did feel that it crammed a lot of story into a surprisingly short run time and felt very rushed and not nearly as emotionally as engaging as it was trying to be as a result. I’m not the only one who was less engaged than expected as I saw its Rotten Tomatoes score drop over the weekend, settling at 67% (low for Marvel and nearly tied with The Dark World), and the film was branded with a B+ Cinemascore, which indicates an audience that generally enjoyed the film but took issue with something that they simply could not get past. Was it the pacing as it was for me? Was the movie too kiddish, like a Saturday morning cartoon? Did it feel like a Ragnarok rehash? I’ve seen all these criticisms lobbed at it but there seems to be little consensus as to the actual problem so we’ll just have to wait and see as to how the film’s run is affected. A B+ Cinemascore is in line with the first Thor film as well as the most recent Doctor Strange the Multivese of Madness. The former pulled a x2.75 multiplier off its opening weekend while the latter was much more frontloaded (understandably so) with a x2.19 multiplier. If we take those to tracks, we see Love and Thunder ending its domestic run with between $315.3-396 million, a good sign given that this range has it at least matching Ragnarok‘s domestic haul; something I have little doubt in given that the film is still a fun ride in spite of its issues. However, saddled with a reported $250 million budget, the film will likely need to also match Ragnarok internationally if it hopes to turn a profit, and those are the numbers I’ll be most interested in in the coming weeks.
As for the rest of the top ten, Minions: The Rise of Gru performed just about as well as expected, remarkably matching the -57% drop of the original Minions movie exactly for a gross of $46 million in second place. That takes its domestic haul to $210 million (in no small part built off of spectacular summer weekday grosses), firmly cementing this newest entry in the Despicable Me franchise as THE kid’s movie of the summer. Even more amazing are the film’s international numbers which tally to $189 million as the film rolls out across 64 markets, pulling the worldwide cume past $400 million in just a single week. That tally has actually also pushed the franchise’s global box office take past $4 billion, making it the highest-grossing animated film series of all time! Whether or not the film makes it to a gross of $1 billion worldwide is still up in the air at the moment, but numbers like these seem to suggest that it’s on its way; given that the film has still yet to hit Japan, Korea, and Italy (all major markets for the Minions), there is still plenty of runway for this film.
Predictably, Top Gun: Maverick continues to kill it in its seventh weekend of release with a -40% hold for a gross of $15.5 million in third place. To be honest, I thought the film would hold better (closer to -20%), but this is still a great run as the film is likely to push past $600 million domestically within the week. That gross would put Top Gun within striking distance of the all-time domestic top ten list. It just needs to pass $620.1 million to be in the top ten and given that Top Gun is apparently unstoppable, you can bet it’s going to make history.
In fourth place, we find Elvis, which continues to do quite well considering the kind of movie it is. For practically the entirety of the pandemic moviegoing era, the trades have continuously harped on how “adult films”…….that’s not what I meant……”adult-skewing” drama films are going extinct in this age of streaming. The continuous comparison as of late is to that of Lady Gaga’s House of Gucci which, despite not doing all that well on the whole, did power itself, in the more immediate wake of the pandemic, to $53 million domestic off of a $14 million debut (a strong x3.73 multiplier). That’s nice and all, but I feel we do need to let go of that comparison, especially now that The Lost City has been released and took in $105 million off of sheer star power, and Elvis is further proof that the adult market is definitely roaring back, if not thriving already. Elvis has the ultimate source of star power on its side, “The King” himself, and that too is pulling the fill to excellent heights at the box office. Holding by a genuinely remarkable -39%, Elvis grossed $11.18 million which took its domestic total to $91 million. In just three weekends, in a market that isn’t the most friendly to non-IP-based fare, the fact that Elvis is just $9 million away from hitting $100 million domestically and will likely hit that mark by next weekend (not to mention go a solid distance past it) is an amazing show of strength by this film, the filmmakers, and Warner Bros. itself. Elvis was primed by many to be the butt of a joke, but now it’s already passed $155 million worldwide and has cemented itself as a likely Oscar frontrunner in the Best Actor category. On a budget of $85 million, the film is likely to make it to $200 million worldwide and make a nice chunk of change overall. Its legs will likely continue to be strong and I am excited to see just where it lands (it also gives me a lot of hope for the Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, coming out this Christmas!).
Fifth place went to Jurassic World: Dominion, dropping a cool -47% and grossing $8.6 million. That takes it to $350 million domestically while a -48% in international grosses takes its worldwide cume to $876 million. I’ll admit to some surprise here because I firmly believed that this film would make it to $1 billion but it has become clear that Dominion will not be making it to the benchmark. That’s not at all a bad thing, especially given that the film has already grossed 5.3x its $165 million budget (likely still a lot even with potential, unreported costs incurred by COVID-related filming conditions), but its an interesting note for such a durable franchise to “end” on. Still, the film will be hitting Japan at the end of the month so it has one more pocket of change to mine. I suspect, similarly to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, that the film will end its run with a worldwide gross in the $900 million range.
As for the rest of the top ten, The Black Phone took sixth place with a gross of $7.78 million off a strong hold of -36%. That takes it to $62.4 million and $99 million worldwide. Off an $18 million budget, that’s fantastic and another sweet win for Blumhouse. Seventh place went to Lightyear, continuing to tank with a weekend gross of just $3 million off a -52% drop. In happier news, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On did reach into the top ten with a gross of $322K. Taking eighth place, Marcel had the fourth highest per-theater average of the weekend with $6,712 per theater and, remarkably, managed to pull itself into the top ten with an expansion into just 48 theaters. Sure, it speaks to how top-heavy the theatrical market is at the moment, but it also suggests great potential for the film to have an even higher gross down the line as the film continues to expand. Personally, I think Marcel might be ready for a wide release this coming weekend, but we’ll see what A24 decides to do.
Finishing off, Mr. Malcolm’s List had a surprisingly large -69% drop for a gross of $255K in ninth place meaning that its solid opening last weekend was a false indicator of things to come. Tenth place went to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which big the top ten farewell with a -41% drop and a gross of $245K. Ending with a worldwide gross of $947 million, Disney can be pleased with this outcome.
Specialty-wise, the usual suspect, Official Competition, continued to hold well, although its grosses are so meager that it still has yet to pass $1 million domestically. The Forgiven also held over from last weekend with a drop of -50%, indicating that it will not survive the next few weeks. The only big new release was Fires of Love from NEON. Chronicling the love story of Katia and Maurice Kraff, two volcanologists who perished together in a volcanic eruption in 1991, failed to generate any heat at first glance, debuting to $22K in three theaters for a per-theater average of $7,472. However, further digging showed that the film actually opened this past Wednesday and managed to gross a respectable $40K in that 5-Day frame. That would give it $13K per theater, the second-highest per-theater average of the weekend, so that’s actually not too shabby.