Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Report: Barbie Surpasses The Avengers on the All-Time List

Also, Oppenheimer surpassed Bohemian Rhapsody to become the highest-grossing biopic ever.

by | September 18, 2023 | Comments


The mustache returned this weekend, but even with no pandemic or star scandal to impede its release, the latest in the Hercule Poirot cinematic universe still could not take advantage of a big horror drop to grab a victory at this week’s box office, one of the slowest moviegoing weekends of the year. Sequels kept the top four spots making a bit of money for theaters across the country, but aside from the one film’s collection plate running over, are any of them turning a profit for their distributors?

King of the Crop: The Nun II Holds Off Hercule Poirot

Dropping over 55% from last week, The Nun II nevertheless stayed on top with $14.5 million. The first film fell 66% after its massive $53.8 million September opening. Reviews are better for the sequel (50% vs. 24%) but word-of-mouth is not much better (a C+ Cinemascore compared to the original’s C). The Nun II’s total of $56.5 million after 10 days is right in-between The Maze Runner and Eagle Eye, though both can boast better second weekends of $17.4 million and $17.7 million. This sequel’s weekend is closely in line with The Exorcism of Emily Rose’s $14.8 million second frame, suggesting a domestic landing somewhere around $80 million. Combine that with an already healthy $102+ million international haul and its $38.5 million budget is more than wiped clean of its sins.

The Top 10 and Beyond: Haunting in Venice Disappoints, Barbie and Oppenheimer Reach New Milestones

Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express opened to $28.6 million in 2017. His follow-up, Death on the Nile, was originally supposed to open in December 2019, and after numerous delays, many due to the pandemic, it was released in February 2022 with a start of $12.8 million and finished with less than half of Express’ $102+ million total. Not great for a film with a production budget of $90 million, earning less than 37% of its predecessor’s international haul. The budget for A Haunting in Venice was slashed to $60 million, just a bit over Express’ $55 million, and it opened to $14.3 million, finishing in second place. But can it still post the victory Disney and 20th Century Studios would like?

Fifteen films have opened in September to between $13-15 million. David Fincher’s Seven made it to just over $100 million. Only one other film (2007’s 3:10 To Yuma) made it over $50 million. Only four others made it over $40 million. That is a lot of pressure to produce not just good word-of-mouth but also some big overseas numbers. Somewhere between $150-180 million would be Venice’s target goal to perhaps secure a fourth entry for Branagh. Death on the Nile may have limped out of the gate, but it did post a 3.53 multiple over its opening, almost as good as Express’ 3.58 multiple. So interest has existed, and if it can stretch itself close to $50 million, it will then just have to outperform Nile’s $91.6 million international haul, and the mustache may go on another adventure. Right now it stands with an additional $22.7 million.

Having a harder time in budget recovery is Sony’s The Equalizer 3. The film grossed $7.2 million this weekend, bringing its total to over $73 million on a $70 million budget. Pay half of that to the house, add in some advertising costs and talk show appearances, and the film still needs to reach somewhere around $175-210 million to recoup its costs. An overseas haul of $58.7 million brings its worldwide total to over $132 million. The third film in the Denzel/Fuqua trilogy is currently pacing just around where Downton Abbey was after its third weekend ($73.6 million gross / $7.9 million weekend). That film finished with $96.8 million. The numbers will be close, as this one could still be a minor hit or fall just a bit short.

Though the budget on My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 should not have been very high (the first sequel only cost $18 million) the returns on this one have to be a major disappointment, considering the journey of this series. From $241 million in grassroots word-of-mouth to just under $60 million for the 2016 sequel to now just $18.6 million in its first 10 days. Not to burn it all down, but with just $4.7 million in its second weekend, these are not much better than Wicker Man numbers — Nicolas Cage Wicker Man numbers, that is. That film dropped to $4.06 million in its sophomore weekend after having grossed $17.4 million at that point, and it finished with just $23.6 million, so consider the reception for the Greek series to end somewhere around $25 million.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie crossed the last hurdle on its run to challenge the top 10 all-time domestic list. Marvel’s The Avengers fell this weekend when Barbie grossed another $3.8 million and grew its total to nearly $626 million. It’s now less than $28 million away from besting Jurassic World to enter that top 10, which is entirely possible. Barbie nearly doubled Jurassic World’s $1.9 million ninth weekend and is only about $10 million behind its pace. Last week, it was over $11 million, and it’s about to get a boost from IMAX screens next weekend with additional footage. Warner Bros. is making the play despite releasing the film on VOD recently and giving ticket buyers an excuse to stay home just as the film was on the verge of history. Gerwig’s film is also currently the 14th highest-grossing film worldwide of all time with over $1.41 billion. It has even bested Top Gun: Maverick’s international gross ($776.9 million) with a current total of $790+ million.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ Blue Beetle continues to hang around with $2.5 million. It stands at $67.3 million domestic and just $117 million worldwide, which amounts to around a $90+ million loser for DC and WB. Sony’s Gran Turismo is not far behind with $2.3 million, still not enough to reach $40 million yet and just barely in the vicinity of $100 million worldwide. With half the budget of Blue Beetle, that makes it only about a third of its losses for Sony. Sticking around for another week in the top 10 is Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem with $2 million, bringing its domestic total to over $114 million. It has upped its international total to over $50 million. The problem is that it still needs around another $50 million to turn a profit.

A film completely in profit added a new distinction to its release this weekend. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer made $2.1 million, driving its domestic total to $318.6 million. But with over $900 million worldwide, it has passed Bohemian Rhapsody to become the highest-grossing biopic of all time. Congratulations to Nolan, Universal, and all the moviegoers who bought a ticket to an original drama this summer. Rounding out the top 10 is Yash Raj’s release of Jawan, which fell to $2.4 million. That brings its total to $12.1 million, not far below the $17.4 million that their Pathaan made through January and February this year.

Finally, Sony has shifted around the release strategy of Dumb Money multiple times, from limited to wide to sorta limited to limited for several weeks before wide. Well, the first round began this weekend in just eight theaters, and the result was $198,000. Maybe not the smartest of monies, but its per-theater average of $24,750 was just good enough to rank 10th on the year. It ranks 17th amongst films starting in just eight theaters. Funny enough, the film it is often compared to – Adam McKay’s The Big Short – leads that pack with a $705,527 start back in 2015.

On the Vine: Expend4bles Hopes Not to Live up to Its Title

Another sequel tries to round out the top five next weekend. Lionsgate is not exactly bullish on rolling out screenings of the fourth Expendables movie, Expend4bles (or Expend-Four-Bles, if you like) for critics this week. This is another series that has seen its profits dwindle, with the third film not even grossing $40 million. Expect it to win the box office on a very light weekend and then drift away quickly.

Full List of Box Office Results: September 15-17, 2023

52% The Nun II (2023)

  • $14.7 million ($56.5 million total)

75% A Haunting in Venice (2023)

  • $14.5 million ($14.5 million total)

76% The Equalizer 3 (2023)

  • $7.3 million ($73.7 million total)

30% My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (2023)

  • $4.7 million ($18.6 million total)

88% Barbie (2023)

  • $3.8 million ($625.9 million total)

78% Blue Beetle (2023)

  • $2.5 million ($67.3 million total)

89% Jawan (2023)

  • $2.4 million ($12.1 million total)

65% Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story (2023)

  • $2.3 million ($39.4 million total)

93% Oppenheimer (2023)

  • $2.1 million ($318.6 million total)

95% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

  • $2 million ($114.1 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros. Pictures, ©Marvel Studios

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