Barbenheimer entered its third weekend with two new challengers, and one of them managed to break up the powerful duo. The latest reboot of the Ninja Turtles had its weekend a little softened by those who saw it on Wednesday and Thursday, but in a late surprise, it was the big shark that managed to drive that temporary wedge. For theaters, the numbers are more than fine once again, as the box office had its best August weekend since 2016. But apart from its current saviors and this weekend’s mutant creature features, the losses are piling up for some of the summer’s big studio fare.
Greta Gerwig, who began her career on the so-called mumblecore festival circuit, has now directed the highest-grossing film ever by a female director. Barbie passed $400 million during the week and is now over a billion worldwide, which is the first time that has ever been achieved for a woman flying with solo credit behind the camera (both Frozen films and Captain Marvel had co-directors). Only 10 films have opened in August to more than what Barbie did in its third weekend with $54 million; it’s officially the 11th-best third weekend in history. That begins the continuation of the question we asked last week when it comes to its chances of besting both The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Top Gun: Maverick.
Super Mario actually has the seventh-best third weekend in history with $59.9 million. This may seem like the beginning of a significant gain on Barbie’s pace. However, when you break it down and see that Barbie still roughly holds a $23 million lead on Mario (given that film’s Wednesday opening and not having a full third weekend through its 17th day), it isn’t much to worry about. Barbie is still well-outpacing it on the weekdays, and it should easily be No. 1 for a fourth weekend. Even if it does not match Mario’s $40.8 million fourth frame, it’s going to be over $500 million and only needs to clear less than $75 million to be the highest-grossing film of 2023.
Now, can it beat the highest-grossing domestic film of 2022? Top Gun: Maverick had the 12th-best third weekend in history – now it has the 13th. Gerwig’s film can also match the day-for-day pace with Maverick and after 17 days of release, the former has grossed $64 million more than the latter did at the same point. Barbie has bested Maverick individually on 15 of those 17 days, losing only to its second Saturday ($36.00 million to $34.58 million) and on Memorial Day. That could begin to flip once kids go back to school. Maverick’s drops over weekends 4-6 were minimal, but between Barbie’s head start and very little to really knock it back through August, it can make a serious run at Maverick’s final numbers. Barbie is also $34 million ahead of Avatar: The Way of Water’s pace (even as that had the third-best third weekend ever), and if it can stay on that pace, $700 million is a genuine possibility.
Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is no slouch either and is climbing its own lists after making $28.7 million in its third weekend. That brought its total to $228.5 million, which is the sixth-best 17-day total ever for an R-rated film behind Deadpool, It, Deadpool 2, Joker, and The Passion of the Christ. It is also the seventh-best third weekend for a film requiring an adult or guardian over 17. The film is still on a $300+ million pace, about $19+ million off the pace of where Joker was, though Oppenheimer still has some mid-week juice in it. It is pacing over $107+ million over the best R-rated release in July at this point (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) and is $35 million ahead of where Inception was with a similar third weekend. Somewhere between $310-330 million is a very likely landing for Oppenheimer, which has also crossed $550 million worldwide; it’s Nolan’s sixth film to achieve that.
The top new earner of the week is Warner Bros.’ Meg 2: The Trench. The film did not screen for press this week in the majority of markets and we can see why, with its current 28% on the Tomatometer. Not that the original was particularly acclaimed at 46%, but it opened to $45.4 million back in 2018, while Ben Wheatley’s sequel has started with $30 million. The $129 million production is counting on those overseas dollars, which got the original over half a billion. One road this sequel does not want to go down is the same one paved by the retooling of 2015’s Fantastic Four and 2012’s Total Recall, which opened on the same weekend to $25.6 million and $25.5 million respectively. With budgets between $120-125 million, neither of them cleared $60 million. If Meg 2 can stretch itself to $80 million, it would take around $310 million internationally to turn this into profit. The first film did $384 million internationally and the sequel has made $112 million so far. Long way to swim.
Paramount’s animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem grossed $28 million and has earned $43 million since opening on Wednesday. Reviews are very strong, with a Certified Fresh Tomatometer Score of 96%; that’s the best score any Turtles film has earned since the first attempt back in 1990, which stands at 41%. This is a better five-day start than the live-action sequel, Out of the Shadows, back in 2016 ($41.7 million), which did not even gross half of its predecessor. This $80 million production would seem to stand on much firmer ground to turn a profit, though its international start of $8.5 million is a bit troubling, especially when the 2007 animated version grossed just $41.6 million internationally. None of the Turtles movies has been as profitable as New Line’s 1990 original, which cost a mere $13.5 million and grossed over $200 million worldwide. Paramount’s 2014 reboot cost $135 million and was a success with over $482 million.
There have been some costly exercises this summer season that came up well short of their budgets, including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (which just crossed $170 million this weekend) and The Flash. Disney may have gotten Elemental out of the $100+ million loss category (it crossed $423 million worldwide this weekend,) but that will not happen with their second attempt to turn Haunted Mansion into a movie. The $157 million production fell 62% in its second weekend down to $8.9 million bringing its domestic total to just $42 million. That is below the pace of Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, which finished with only $57.6 million, cost $37 million less than Haunted Mansion, and added $76 million overseas (Mansion has only added another $17.6 million). The math is not fuzzy, and Disney is looking to own the two biggest losers of 2023 to date.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is unfortunately another film on that list. Even though it will cross half-a-billion worldwide this week (the eighth film this year to do so, matching the domestic wide releases of 2022), its $290 million pandemic-extended budget was problematic, especially with only a week of IMAX prices before having to concede all those screens to Oppenheimer. Paramount has tried to shift blame to Cruise and his production company, but he and director Christopher McQuarrie delivered an exceptionally well-reviewed franchise entry (still Certified Fresh at 96% with critics) and kept its release date right in the path of Barbenheimer when it may have been able to own August. Instead it is going to finish around $170 million domestic (still only $50 million behind Fallout, the franchise’s highest-grosser) and pull up big losses that may have been a little smaller if it had swapped dates with the Turtles and taken those IMAX screens instead of relinquishing them.
Angel Studio’s Sound of Freedom, the controversial film about child sex trafficking which just saw one of its outspoken investors, Fabian Marta, get arrested for child kidnapping, is starting to slow down its run. Continue following the money, though, as another $7 million this weekend brings its total over $163 million. A24’s Talk To Me grossed another $6.2 million this weekend, bringing its total to over $22 million. That puts it among the 10 highest-grossing films in the company’s history, and it’s likely to hit the top five, passing Moonlight’s $27.8 million — a solid success story for the $4.5 million production. Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman’s Theater Camp expanded to 555 theaters this weekend and made another $570,000, bringing its total to $2.4 million. Get the film out there, Searchlight; the numbers are solid. Also in limited release was Ira Sach’s NC-17 rated Passages, which MUBI put out in three theaters; it grossed $64,069, which amounts to the 12th-best per-theater average opening of the year and the fifth-best amongst limited releases.
Another ocean-based horror will try to break into the top three next week when The Last Voyage of the Demeter opens. Director André Øvredal (Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark, The Autopsy of Jane Doe) tells the story of the ship that brought Dracula from Transylvania to London. It no longer has to compete with Gran Turismo, but the Universal film may still be looking at less than a $10 million opening, which means Barbie will be No. 1 for its fourth straight week and Oppenheimer and the Turtles will compete for second and third.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros.