At the beginning of the fall season, it looked as if there was only going to be one film that grossed $100 million in September and October. That film finally arrived this weekend with an opening number that leaves little doubt it will reach that. On the other hand, could this week’s comic book entry be the first film this year to gross between $200-300 million? Black Adam is not going to be the only film this season to reach nine digits, though. Spoiler Alert: The other film is not Halloween Ends.
When Aquaman opened to $67.8 million just before Christmas in 2018, the number was reported as basically OK. Less than Wonder Woman and Justice League that came before it, James Wan’s DC film ultimately went on to gross $335.1 million (Joker barely beat it a year later) and is still the highest-grossing film of any DC property with $1.14 billion worldwide. Black Adam has opened with an estimated $67 million. That’s a great number for Dwayne Johnson, because it’s the best number that he has put up as the top-billed talent. More than Hobbs & Shaw ($60 million), Jumanji: The Next Level ($59.2 million), and San Andreas ($54.5 million). Whatever may be thought about the movies themselves, Black Adam is the 10th film on his resume (as the star) to open to over $30 million. (Adam Sandler has 12. Tom Cruise has 11.) But is it a good number for DC and Warner Bros.?
Well if Black Adam turns out to be Aquaman then the answer would be unequivocally yes. If it turns out to be Shang-Chi that wouldn’t be such a bad number. But whatever it may be, it is likely that Johnson is going to need another $300 million or higher international haul for Black Adam to be a success. $309 million overseas was not enough for WB’s third Fantastic Beasts film, especially since it only made $95 million domestic. Black Adam, which has grossed another $73 million internationally so far, is going to need a 3.22 multiple just to reach $200 million, which has only been achieved by three films since 2020 that have opened to over $50 million (Top Gun: Maverick, Minions: The Rise of Gru, and Shang-Chi). Black Adam’s 40% with critics is similar to the theatrical version of Justice League (39%) and still higher than Suicide Squad (27%) and Green Lantern (26%). Those three films had final multiples of just 2.44, 2.43 and 2.19. Man of Steel had a 56% and a 2.49. Batman v Superman a 27% and a 1.99. Both Justice League and Suicide Squad also had the B+ Cinemascore that Black Adam received. The $195 million budgeted film is the last one on Warner Bros.’ schedule for the year, and it could end on a sour note if the domestic numbers fall quickly. The only live-action film since 2007 to gross less than $27 million in its second weekend and still gross over $200 million was Jumanji: The Next Level. Keep that in mind as Black Adam enters its second frame.
Remember when Universal released Bros and its box office was disappointing and everyone started saying the big screen comedy is dead? Welcome back George Clooney and Julia Roberts, whose Ticket To Paradise exceeded some expectations to gross $16.3 million this weekend, a solid number for a comedy in the autumn season. Critics have not been thrilled with it – it garnered just a 55% on the Tomatometer, compared to The Lost City’s generous 79% – but it’s still the gold standard for star-driven comedies this year. The average gross for an October release opening between $15-17 million (taking outlier The Ring out of the equation) is $51.2 million. So while this may not turn out to be a barnburner, a potential $50 million gross for an adult-themed comedy at this point of the year shows that the genre may be sleeping but it’s certainly not dead.
Last week, industry analysts were afire with a changed tune as to how a streaming hybrid film like Halloween Ends opening to $40 million was somehow proof that the model works. Never mind that Halloween Kills did $49 million the year before with a pandemic still declared and failed to reach $100 million when all was said and done. Unfortunately, the second weekend of Halloween Ends is one of the largest falls in box office history. From $40 million down to just $8 million, that is a 78% drop, the second-highest ever for a film released in over 3,000 theaters. That puts it right in line with the infamous Friday the 13th remake from 2009, which fell 80% from $40.5 million down to $7.9 million and finished with only $65 million. But even that film is ahead of Halloween Ends’ pace, outgrossing it $55.1 million to $54.1 million after 10 days. Even if Ends drops below 13th’s $3.68 million third weekend, it should still get a momentary bump on Halloweend day itself, but somewhere around $65 million is where this film is headed. How many moviegoers would have ignored the buzz and paid to see it if it weren’t on Peacock? Or if there weren’t other better-hyped horror films playing?
Speaking of which, there are a pair of horror films worth better headlines than Halloween Ends, with one outgrossing it and the other just making a great headline. The former is Smile, which is only in theaters – i.e. not on Paramount Plus – and is the other autumn release headed for $100 million. In its fourth weekend it outgrossed Halloween Ends in its second with $8.3 million, bringing its total to over $84 million. That is about what Gore Verbinski’s The Ring had grossed in four weekends, though its drops were even less severe, as it had grossed $15.5 million in its fourth round. What it is doing better than is Scream 2, which also had $85 million after 24 days but grossed $7.2 million in weekend four. That film finished with $101 million. Smile appears to be headed even higher.
The other horror story of the week is Terrifier 2, and what a story it is. It earned $1.35 million in its first five days of release (with Indigenous People’s Day Weekend), then it lost 70 theaters the next weekend and still saw a 28% jump up to $1.03 million. This week it added 55 theaters back to its run and it nearly doubled last week’s haul with $1.9 million to run its total up to $5.2 million. That is right behind 2021’s highest-grossing-under-1000-theaters release of Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain ($5.35 million total), and it only has to reach $7.83 million to pass Brahmastra Part One: Shiva this year. That would make it the best film on that list since The Farewell grossed nearly $18 million in 2019. Assuming, of course, more theaters don’t book this little vomit- and faint-inducing phenomenon in the meantime.
In further limited release news, Ruben Ostlund’s Triangle of Sadness made it into the top ten with $600,000, bringing its total to $1.4 million in just 100 theaters. Tár made another $470,000 in 141 theaters for a total of $1.17 million. Till expanded into 104 theaters and made $376,000 for a total of $667,000 as it prepares for a wider release next week. Decision To Leave made another $296,000 in 48 theaters, and its total stands at $437,000. The Banshees of Inisherin was the big new limited winner, opening with $181,000 in four locations for the third-best per-theater average of 2022 with $45,250. Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun from A24 released this weekend in 4 theaters and grossed $66,000 for a per-theater average of $16,589.
The end of October normally means one thing. Halloween. Not the Ends thing, but an opportunity for Daniel Stamm’s new exorcism tale, Prey For The Devil, to try and steal some business from Smile and Terrifier 2. The film is not being screened for critics and Black Adam probably will not be sweating its release as it goes for the second straight week at the top that will likely turn into a third straight win the week after.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros.