The lure of one fifth and final chapter bested last week’s fifth and final chapter this weekend in a close race. Horror won out (momentarily) over adventure in a week with a number of stories, including the disappointing opening of another R-rated comedy and an out-of-nowhere release selling a lot of tickets, but not necessarily to moviegoers. Many are trying to enjoy their little moment in the sun before getting outsold by Tom Cruise, a Mattel doll, and a pair of literal bombs opening in the next two weeks.
The Insidious series, which began with James Wan in 2010 with a premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, has been one of the most consistent of horror franchises. After stretching a modest $13.2 million opening on April Fool’s Day in 2011 into a successful $54 million run, the first Insidious spawned the first of its sequels in 2013. Still directed by Wan, his otherworldly, time-jumping PG-13 horror tale began with $40.2 million and finished with a series-best $83.5 million. Insidious: Chapter 3 opened well in June 2015 with $22.6 million and ended with a series low of $52.2 million. But in January 2018, Insidious: The Last Key hit with a $29.5 million start and $67.7 million domestic.
Now it all presumably comes to an end with Insidious: The Red Door. Helmed by its star, Patrick Wilson, the conclusion/debut led the way this weekend with $32.7 million, kicked off with a series best of $5 million in Thursday previews. Apart from the first film, which rode good word-of-mouth to a 4.06 multiple over its opening weekend, the sequels have never multiplied over 2.31. That number would rank between this year’s The Pope’s Exorcist (2.22) and Scream VI (2.43). Based on the path of the sequels, The Red Door would be headed towards a final gross somewhere between $67-76 million, which is more than enough to give the $16 million production a spot in the profit column. It would also amount to a clean sweep in that department. The reported total cost of all five films combined is $42 million, and they have grossed a global total of over $575 million through just this weekend.
Warner Bros. and DC’s The Flash is out of the top 10 this week with just $2.2 million. After only three weeks on the chart, the film has grossed just over $105 million domestic and $250 million worldwide. Those are X-Men: Dark Phoenix numbers. The film right now is on a list of $200+ million budgeted films that did not reach $300 million worldwide, and two of those debuted in the pandemic era (Wonder Woman 1984, Jungle Cruise). The others are John Carter, The Lone Ranger, Dark Phoenix, Lightyear, and Green Lantern. (Elemental could join this list as well.) Taking 2020 and 2021 out of the equation, The Flash would currently rank as one of the biggest theatrical bombs of all time. Good thing the minds at Warner Bros. decided to get some positive press this week by getting a GQ article critical of David Zaslav pulled and then deciding to schedule screenings of Barbie for the press at the same time as Oppenheimer everywhere except LA & NY. Great plan!
Last week’s No. 1, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, fell back to second place this weekend with $26.5 million. Let’s dispense with the idea that this film has any chance of turning a profit. It does not. Instead, we can look at how the film is doing for theaters, and by that metric, as suggested last week, it is doing just fine. Indy’s total in its first 10 days amounts to $121 million, which puts it about another week away from being the fourth-highest grossing film of the summer. Momentarily. It has already outgrossed The Flash and Elemental and it will outgross both Fast X and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts with ease. It will not get any higher than fourth, and it will likely get knocked back to sixth on the summer charts, where its final gross would also have ranked it sixth in both 2022 and 2019 (and possibly a top five possibly 2015-17).
As for that final gross, we need to start with where it ranks after this weekend. Opening on the same day as Dial of Destiny back in 2000 was The Perfect Storm. It opened to $41.3 million, fell a meager 34.4% in its second weekend, and had a 10-day total of $100.1 million. Dial of Destiny’s tumble of 56% may have it headed in the other direction, but it still maintains a $22 million lead over Clooney and Wahlberg. Storm’s second weekend ($27.1 million) was right on par with Dial of Destiny, ending up with a $180 million final haul. That is currently where Indy is headed with an outside shot at $200 million. That is not good news for Disney, which is already about to take massive losses for Elemental and The Little Mermaid on top of this $295 million production that has only grossed $247 million worldwide so far. But $90 million going into the pockets of theaters across the country for a film starring an 80-year-old leading man is going to be considered a win for some.
That brings us to third place with a film some are trying to make a story out of. Headlines boasted that Sound of Freedom was besting Indiana Jones at the box office. Yes, on a single day, namely July 4th, the film’s first day of release. It grossed $14.2 million (over Indy’s $11.6 million) on a day everyone had off, and the asterisks do not end there. The film, based on the exploits of Operation Underground Railroad and starring QAnon supporter Jim Caviezel as its founder, purports to be about the rescuing of children from sex traffickers. The group itself has been under investigation for misleading donors into funding exploits that have lacked credible evidence as to their veracity and success. And now, there are reports that political action groups have bought swaths of tickets across the country and handed them out to people for free.
Warner Bros. may have thought about doing that for The Flash to make the grosses look a little more respectable. But for Sound of Freedom it has taken a modestly-budgeted movie ($14.5 million) filmed back in 2018 (shelved by Disney when Fox was bought) and moved the grosses north of $40 million in just six days. That includes $18.2 million made over the weekend. How much of that was crowdfunded and distributed as free tickets is a worthwhile question.
Down to fourth place is Disney’s Elemental, dropping 21% to $9.6 million. That brings its total to over $109 million and a guarantee it will outgross Lightyear. The film is pacing along the lines of Central Intelligence at the moment ($8 million fourth weekend and $108.2 million 24-day haul), which could get the Pixar film over $130 million domestic, even if that isn’t exactly a win for the $200 million production that only just passed $200 million worldwide this weekend. The Little Mermaid, meanwhile, added another $3.5 million to its bank. That brings it to $289 million as it is winding down its time in the top 10 and hoping to stretch itself to put up a respectable $300 million on the board. Again, good for theaters but not the studio, which needs north of $700 million to break even on this film. Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken just hung on in the top 10 for its second week, when it grossed $2.8 million and brought its total to just $11.6 million domestic and $20 million worldwide.
Much better in the animated realm is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which took the lead in the summer box office race on Sunday. Another $8 million this weekend brings it over $357.6 million, just ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s $357.5 million, and it is settling in for a landing somewhere between $380-390 million domestic. Worldwide it is over $642 million compared to Guardians’ $840 million. Sony’s No Hard Feelings with Jennifer Lawrence fell 34% to $5.2 million in its third weekend, bringing it just over $40 million. Hoping to hit that $60 million milestone for R-rated comedies was a longshot from the start, but it may just find itself barely getting over the $50 million line, if at all. Internationally the $45 million production’s total is at $67 million. It is angling behind both Tag and South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which finished their runs at $54 million and $52 million after respective third weekends of $5.8 million and $4.3 million and each with 17-day totals of less than $2 million higher than Feelings.
That brings additional disappointment, seeing that Tag’s third weekend was higher than Joy Ride’s opening weekend. The Adele Lim-directed, R-rated, Asian-American, female-led, 91%-critically approved comedy opened to just $5.8 million. That is not much more than Bros opened to last September ($4.8 million) and is lower than Lionsgate’s opening of The Blackening last month ($6 million). Tim Story’s film has made just $17 million to date. Bros finished with only $11.6 million. None of this is good news for Lionsgate even with a budget sourced between $20-30 million.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ minor victory this summer is besting Fast X at the box office. $4.7 million this weekend will get it across the Diesel line in the battle of these dwindling franchises. They each sit with around $146 million. Beasts will get over $150 million and secure over $400 million. (Fast X just crossed $700 million globally.) But the massive budgets of each give neither a chance for profit redemption. Off the list this weekend is Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, which grossed $2.2 million for a total just shy of $24 million and Celine Song’s Past Lives, which added another million in 776 theaters to bring its total to $8.3 million.
Tom Cruise attempts to own the summer again when Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One opens on Wednesday. This series has never done more than $221 million domestic, but all bets are off now after Top Gun: Maverick last year. Delivering for audiences is an underrated metric at the box office, and based on the glowing reviews from critics, Cruise and Co. have done it again. It only needs $77.6 million to have the biggest five-day opening of the franchise. Also in limited release is Searchlight’s Sundance favorite Theater Camp. The comedy was chosen as the closing night film at this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by Nivole Rivelli/©Screen Gems