The old DC Universe is going to get something this weekend they have not had in some time – a positive headline. Unfortunately that is where the good news likely will end for its latest entry, as its long-term prospects put it in the same weeds as many of their recent failures. The news is not much better for the cheaper R-rated comedy that tried to break through this week. Thankfully, the two studios behind these films also still have the two films in theaters that have been grabbing the best headlines of the summer.
Blue Beetle was indeed No. 1 at the box office this weekend. After a $3.3 million start on Thursday, the film appeared to be on pace to reach its high-end projection of $30 million, as both WB’s Shazam!: Fury of the Gods ($30.1 million) and Meg 2: The Trench ($30.0 million) did after previews of $3.4 million and $3.1 million, respectively. Instead it began with $25.4 million, nearly giving a chance for Barbie to steal a fifth weekend at the top. The third weekend of August has never been a time for huge openers; the best this weekend has ever seen was the $38 million start of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. So with that in mind, Blue Beetle had the seventh-best opening of the weekend, historically speaking, behind the two other $30+ million starters, Freddy vs. Jason and Superbad, and the $25+ million brought in by The Expendables 2, Crazy Rich Asians, and Tropic Thunder.
Apart from the specific audience for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, the films of this weekend to open with over $21 million have gone onto $70 million or higher, including 1995’s Mortal Kombat. Two of the under-$25 million starters (The Butler, The 40 Year-Old Virgin) even went on to gross over $100 million. Warner Bros. and DC would love for that kind of a stretch, but while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse did make three times their opening weekend, both The Flash and the Shazam! sequel did not even double up on theirs. Even Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania barely got over the 2x threshold. That is not good news for the $120+ million production of Blue Beetle, which, with only another $18 million overseas so far, is looking like another DC flop for the studio.
While likely not to be as big of a loser gross-to-budget as Blue Beetle this weekend, the $8.3 million made by the potty-mouthed and frequently potty-taking talking dog comedy Strays has to be a real pooper. Expected to debut somewhere at least in the teens, the film featuring voice work by Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx opened to less than Gerard Butler in Plane and Russell Crowe in The Pope’s Exorcist. The film from the director of Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is currently at 55% on the Tomatometer (with a B+ from Cinemascore), and it was shifted out of its June 9 release date for the doldrums of late August, where even the foul-mouthed puppets of The Happytime Murders opened to $9.9 million in 2018. Between this $46 million production and the $45 million spent on last week’s The Last Voyage of the Demeter — which came in with $2.5 million in its second weekend for a total of $11.3 million — Universal is ending its summer with a whimper.
Moving on to the positive stories of the week, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie made $21.5 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its total to $567.2 million domestic and $1.279 billion worldwide. That’s good enough for 21st all time, and it will pass Frozen this week, marking the ninth-best fifth weekend for a film in wide release from the start. Seven of the films on that top 10 list grossed over $600 million, which is where Barbie is headed. Gerwig’s film ranks eighth for films after their first 31 days of release, still $46 million ahead of where Top Gun: Maverick was last year after a $29.6 million fifth weekend. It is also $14 million ahead of Marvel’s The Avengers, besting its fifth weekend of $20.4 million. That puts it on track to become of the 10 highest-grossing domestic films of all time.
As Barbie will pass The Super Mario Bros. Movie this week to become the top-grossing film of the year, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer will soon pass his Inception, as well as this year’s live-action The Little Mermaid, to become the fifth-highest grossing domestic film of 2023. Another $10.6 million in its fifth weekend brings its totals to $285.2 million and over $717 million worldwide, passing both Fast X ($704.7 million) and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($686.7 million) to become the fourth-highest worldwide hit of the year. Universal has had a rocky year with Fast X, Renfield, and the recent flops of Demeter and Strays, but Oppenheimer, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and M3GAN have certainly help wipe the books of those big reds.
Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem dropped to $8.4 million in its third weekend, bringing its total to $88.1 million. That puts its 19-day total right in line with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($88.1 million) after that film’s $8.2 million third weekend and its final gross around $102 million domestic. Unfortunately its $30.3 million international haul is going to keep it away from its profit margin. The studio’s other summer loser —because of its $290+ million budget — is Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which grossed $2.4 million and now stands at $164.6 million domestic and over $541 million worldwide.
Meg 2: The Trench, meanwhile, fell to $6.7 million and now has a total just over $66.5 million. That is about $5 million ahead of the pace of Hollow Man after it had a $6 million third weekend. Last week we placed Meg 2 between $72-82 million; this week we can put it between $77-82 million. Its worldwide total now stands over $316 million, and it needs to make a run towards $400 million to break even. Disney’s Haunted Mansion is not getting anywhere near that with $3 million in weekend four, a domestic total of $58.8 million, and a global total of just $81 million. It remains one of the biggest flops of the year. On the flip side, A24’s Talk To Me has become quite the late summer success story, grossing another $3.1 million and bringing its total to $37.3 million. It now needs less than $7 million to overtake Ari Aster’s Hereditary as the fourth-highest grossing film in the studio’s history.
Sony delayed their video game-inspired true story, Gran Turismo, from last week to next week, hoping that a little space beyond Barbenheimer would amount to some additional late summer dough. We’ll see if Neil Blomkamp’s film has enough in the tank to take that No. 1 spot or if Barbie potentially takes it back. Dennis Quaid stars in another true-life baseball tale in The Hill from the writer of Rudy and Hoosiers. Opening in more limited release is the female high school fight club comedy Bottoms, which was a big hit at SXSW in March and currently boasts a 97% on the Tomatometer. Lastly, Liam Neeson is back trying to protect his family in a Speed-like scenario in Retribution and Helen Mirren plays a real-life leader in Golda.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros.