TAGGED AS: Box Office, movies, news
The summer movie season is here and it is looking up. At The Super Mario Bros. Movie as the film nobody is going to be able to catch. Are there even any potential breakouts like last year’s Top Gun: Maverick where a combination of nostalgia, a two-year waiting period, and genuine enjoyment and word-of-mouth will take something into the stratosphere? The summer of 1989 called and would like to suggest a final Indiana Jones adventure and Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash as potentials, at least to win the summer crown. But the only films to open as late as those in the summer and come out on top were Marvel’s Black Widow in the truncated summer of 2021 and the Aug. 1 release of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. This week, James Gunn’s Vol. 3 tries to make its case for winning the summer, but it may need stronger evidence.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opened with $17.5 million in its Thursday shows and has begun it run with an estimated $114 million. That is the third-lowest total for a film opening to $15 million in “previews,” ahead of only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($22.5 million / $77.8 million opening) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ($16 million / $102.6 million opening). Sorry to begin with such pessimism, but here is another consideration. An opening of over $115 million used to guarantee the MCU a $300 million domestic gross in the past. Every single film that opened to at least that much achieved the milestone, and Guardians 3 is on of the cusp of that and could see it go just over or still under when the final numbers come out on Monday. The Marvel films to achieve that (while opening to under $100 million) were 2008’s Iron Man and the first Guardians of the Galaxy. (Spider-Man: No Way Home had a $92.5 million weekend after spending three days in theaters already and grossed over $390 million.)
Back in February, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania just barely doubled its $106 million start, though some may point to its “B” Cinemascore as representative of losing its core audience who most recently were scoring Marvel below its typical “A-“ and above. Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, and the Doctor Strange sequel all got either a “B” or a “B+.” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may have turned things around with its base, as it received an “A” just as the first two Guardians did. Then again, 21 of the MCU films received either an “A” or an “A+” and had an average multiple of 2.88. Average gets Guardians Vol. 3 to about $328 million. On the half empty side, the last four MCU films have averaged a multiple of just 2.27, which would put Vol. 3 at about $258 million. Wild potential swings. The film will have one more week at No. 1 before Fast X comes out, so next week will tell a larger tale for the $250 million production, which is going to need three-quarters of a billion to break even. After this weekend, its global total stands at $282 million.
The other Chris Pratt film in the top 10 surrendered its four-week run atop the box office but became the 19th film in history to cross half a billion domestically. The Super Mario Bros. Movie made another $18.6 million, the 15th-best fifth weekend of all time. It has now grossed $518 million after 38 days, which is the 12th-best total ever for that timeframe. The film is still $23 million behind the pace of Incredibles 2, which cleared $608 million and had a $16.2 million fifth weekend. At the moment, Mario may be looking to settle somewhere between the initial theatrical run of Titanic and 2019’s The Lion King, making it the 14th highest-grossing film ever in North America. Worldwide it sits at $1.15 billion, putting it just shy of the top 25 ever.
Evil Dead Rise fell back to third place with $5.7 million. That brings its total to $54.1 million and puts the horror film closely in pace with Kill Bill Vol. 2, which had a $5.8 million third weekend, bringing its 17-day total to $52.6 million. That puts Evil Dead’s final domestic estimate somewhere between $65-70 million, a solid hit for Warner Bros. Less so, unfortunately, is the best-reviewed film of the year in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. It fell to only $3.2 million for a total of $12.5 million. It will outgross Kelly Fremon Craig’s last film, The Edge of Seventeen ($14.4 million), but Lionsgate did not get the word out for this one, and it is not going to recoup its $30 million budget.
One of the worst-reviewed films of the year, Love Again (12%), was opened by Sony into 2,703 theaters and it grossed $2.4 million. Clearly there was a reason they did not screen the Priyanka Chopra Jonas romance in advance for critics. But two more of the very best-reviewed films of the year hit little milestones for themselves. John Wick: Chapter 4 made another $2.3 million to bring its total finally over $180 million, and Ben Affleck’s Air took in $1.6 million and hit the $50 million mark. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, while well-liked by critics, got itself over $90 million but is still an all-out bomb for Paramount.
The only challenger for Guardians next weekend is the sequel, Book Club: The Next Chapter, with Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, and Diane Keaton. Focus Features is taking over the release of this one from Paramount, which saw the original gross $68.5 million in the summer of 2018. You can also look for Ben Affleck in Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic and, in limited release, the tale of the creation of the first smartphone in Matt Johnson’s Blackberry with Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton, which is currently at an impressive 97% on the Tomatometer.
82% Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)
59% The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
84% Evil Dead Rise (2023)
99% Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. (2023)
23% Love Again (2023)
94% John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)
92% Air (2023)
90% Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)
83% Guy Ritchie's The Covenant (2023)
94% Sisu (2022)
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 ©Marvel Studios