Followers of this column may recall that yours truly spoke many times of how any film coming out on top of this summer’s box office was likely still going to be playing second fiddle to The Super Mario Bros. Movie come the end of the year. Yeah, scratch that. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie on the verge of taking a permanent hold of becoming the summer box office champ in less than two weeks with eyes on ol’ Mario, and it may have its sights not just on becoming this year’s overall champ, but besting last year’s as well. The numbers are real, folks, and its important to acknowledge them. So let’s take you through them.
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie finished its second weekend with an estimated $93 million. That is just a 42% drop from its opening last week and puts it in the league of some very select company. Bottom line is that the film now ranks as the sixth-best second weekend of all time. And in that company are the two films mentioned or alluded to in the opening paragraph. The Super Mario Bros. Movie came in with a $92.34 million second weekend while Top Gun: Maverick had a $90.03 million follow-up. But even those numbers play second fiddle to Barbie’s overall total, which now sits at $351.4 million after 10 days. That is the 11th-best 10-day total in box office history, though it could easily enter the top 10 over the 2019 Lion King’s $351.8 million when the final totals are posted. The Super Mario Bros. Movie ranks 25th; Top Gun: Maverick ranks 17th.
Here is where things get even more interesting, though. Barbie may just be a few ladder rungs ahead of both of those films in one particular column, but after 10 days it is outpacing Mario Bros. by $68 million. Now, the asterisk on that number is that Mario’s opening on a Wednesday did not provide it with a full second weekend of grosses (its 10th day was its second Friday), so that number may be a bit closer. Except it’s also a moot point, because Barbie is also $56 million ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s pace, which had the benefit of a full second weekend. Doubly moot because Barbie’s second weekend is right on par with both films. At worst it is currently in sync with both and it maintains likely a respective lead on each by $56 million (Top Gun) and at least $25 million (Mario).
Where Top Gun: Maverick maintains an advantage is the long summer runway it had after opening over Memorial Day weekend. It then spent 15 weeks into Labor Day weekend never dropping more than 42%, and eight of those drops were under 20%, including two weekends better than the previous. That’s a tall order for any film to achieve, let alone one hoping to maintain a weekday draw with schools returning in a few weeks. Barbie does appear too on fire right now to be taken down by Turtle Power this weekend, and if it can maintain a total anywhere over $50 million, that could be “good night” for Mario’s hold on the year’s top spot. If the odds are already against Mario, that means $600 million domestic is in Barbie’s sights (it is already there globally), and from there, it is not that far of a leap to make a run at Maverick as long as people keep buying tickets and showing up.
Barbie is not the only film that people are buying tickets and showing up for, of course. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer also did impressive business, with $46.2 million in its second weekend (just a 44% drop) to bring its 10-day total to over $174 million. That is more than Indiana Jones, Transformers, Fast X, and Mission: Impossible have grossed this summer. Indy and (maybe) Ethan Hunt will get over that with their final grosses, but they will be nowhere near Oppenheimer’s total, which is eyeing a $325+ million haul. Nolan’s Inception grossed $142 million in its first 10 days after a $42 million second weekend and concluded with over $292 million. That would give this summer four $300 million grossers, and Barbenheimer alone could be contributing a cool billion to this season’s box office, helping to ultimately propel it past the $3.39 billion of 2022. The summer’s total currently stands at $3.07 billion.
While every dollar counts to theaters in that respect, Disney is in no way appreciating the numbers of their new Haunted Mansion production. Back in 2003, the studio struck gold turning their Pirates of the Caribbean ride into a franchise and their most successful film gross-and-profit of the year. Their biggest loser – The Haunted Mansion with Eddie Murphy – released the same year and was also based on one of their classic theme park attractions. Twenty years later, they were hoping everyone forgot about that film and gave it another go, and its weekend estimates have it identical to the $24.2 million that Murphy’s film grossed over Thanksgiving weekend – that’s $34 million over the five-day holiday, to be precise, compared to the $24.2 million of this final July weekend. The losses of that $90 million production will seem quaint compared to the bottom red line created after the $157 million spent on the 2023 version. Disney is staring down its fourth straight mega-loser of the summer after The Little Mermaid, Elemental, and Indiana Jones, and have not produced a wholly original profiteer since Coco back in 2017.
Sound of Freedom sold $12.4 million in seats in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to nearly $150 million. The film’s small drops and path align more closely to family-friendly animated films than that of typical adult fare: Sound of Freedom’s 24-day total of $136 million closely resemble the fourth weekend tallies of The Croods ($13.1 million), Ice Age ($13.5 million), Happy Feet ($12.9 million), Shark Tale ($14.3 million), The Boss Baby ($12.7 million), Hotel Transylvania 2 ($12.6 million), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($13.1 million), all of which ended with final grosses between $160-199 million. So it may take a few more sales on the Pay It Forward app to get that total over $200 million.
Paramount could also use a few more clicks on that app to pick up the pace on Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One which may have been hit hardest by the Barbenheimer explosion; it only earned $10.7 million in its third weekend. That is lower than the third film’s $11.3 million third weekend, though Dead Reckoning has already outgrossed that entry. Still, that puts the film on a domestic pace of around $170 million, which, all things considered, is only $50 million below Fallout, the highest-grossing film in the franchise. Globally it has grossed another $309.3 million ($448.5 million total), but it’s still a ways away from the $480+ million international gross of the last three films, meaning it will have a lot of ground to make up in the studio’s ledger with Part Two next year, provided the studios come to the negotiating table and it keeps its June 28 release date.
In sixth place is the horror film Talk To Me, which premiered at Sundance this year. A24 released the debut from directors Danny and Michael Philippou, and it got them their second-best opening weekend ($10 million) in their 10-year history. The film is their ninth to open in over 2,000 theaters and trailed only Ari Aster’s Hereditary ($13.5 million) on that list. A Certified Fresh 95% on the Tomatometer puts it the top five best-reviewed wide releases in over 2,000 theaters behind Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Suzume, Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It is the third straight A24 release to rank over 90% with critics after You Hurt My Feelings and Past Lives.
To round out the top 10, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny finished with $4 million, bringing its total to $167 million. Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes had $167.8 million after 31 days and a $3.58 million fifth weekend; that path should get Dial of Destiny just around $180 million domestic. It is over $355 million worldwide. Disney/Pixar’s Elemental grossed $3.4 million to bring its domestic total to just under $145 million and over $395 million worldwide. Both films are very deep in the red for Disney.
On the profit side of things, Insidious: The Red Door made $3.1 million in weekend four, getting over $78 million. The $16 million production has grossed over $174 million worldwide. Then, in the wake of its concluding chapter being taken off the schedule indefinitely due to studios avoiding the negotiating table with its voice actors, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse made another $1.4 million to bring its domestic total to $378.7 million and over $682 million worldwide. Barbie will surpass it soon, but it will still be in the top five grossers of the year. Speaking of actors that should not be taken for granted, Searchlight’s Theater Camp continues to post solid numbers in limited release. Boosted into 295 theaters this weekend, the film grossed another $635,000 to bring its total to $1.5 million.
On Wednesday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens, marking the fourth time these characters have been launched from live-action to animation to CGI live-action and back again. The film is hoping to pull in over $40 million over the five-day stretch, which would be a decent start for the $80 million production. Warner Bros.’ Meg 2: The Trench, meanwhile, is not screening for critics and may be hoping for at least half of the original’s $45 million start. That 2018 film grossed over $530 million worldwide with $145 million in North America.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros., ©Universal Pictures