From 2010-2019 there was an average of six R-rated films a year that would gross $100 million or more. Between 2012-2019 — except for 2016 when there were only three — R-rated titles made up seven to nine of those milestone grossers. Bad Boys for Life reached it at the beginning of 2020. Then the pandemic began and there has not been one since. It’s one of the final comebacks the industry is still hoping to achieve, and this weekend, not only did an R-rated film for adults enter theaters, but an original one. Universal was likely hoping they would be closer to that milestone by Sunday, but for the time being, Nope did just fine.
The belief that new Jordan Peele film Nope could achieve the same kind of opening as Us, his last one, which debuted to $71 million, was reasonable. Us was a March 2019 follow-up to his word-of-mouth smash, Get Out, and grossed nearly the same amount, with over $175 million. It may not have been as appreciated by moviegoers as much — getting a 60% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to Get Out’s 86% — but the mystery and anticipation surrounding Nope, with its prime summer slot, suggested a potential gross somewhere in the $50 million range. Its $6.4 million on Thursday suggests a gross somewhere between $48 million–$63 million. No Time to Die, for example, began with $6.3 million last October and opened to $55 million, and this April’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore made $6 million on Thursday and began with just $42 million. The R-rated Nope, which currently has a 71% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score on over 2,500 Verified Ratings, opened this weekend to $44 million.
All in all, not bad. The highest R-rated opening of 2022 was Scream ($30 million) on a holiday weekend. Last year’s Halloween Kills ($49.4 million) was the best R-rated start since Bad Boys for Life, and that film made a very specific kind of history when it became the first film to open over $43 million and not reach $100 million. Granted, the film also debuted day-and-date on the Peacock streamer, but that is still quite the accomplishment. This year, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore became the second-highest opening ever ($42.1 million) to not reach nine digits. Nope, which had a $68 million budget, needs strong midweek, a second weekend of over $16 million, and a total of at least $78 million by the end of next weekend to avoid becoming the third film to join that list. It may not reach the heights of his previous two films, but let’s hear it for Peele for three original films opening to a combined $150 million. You will not find many filmmakers who have come close to delivering that.
Thor: Love and Thunder made $21.2 million, just behind what Thor: Ragnarok did on its third weekend with $21.6 million. The fourth Thor movie remains $28 million ahead of its predecessor’s pace but this is looking like a gross closer to $330 million now than $340 million. The film has passed $550 million worldwide but looks as if it will be globally in the bottom half of all the MCU grosses. Certainly not surpassing Ragnarok’s $853 million. While Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eternals did not clear $500 million during the still mask-mandated pandemic period, Spider-Man: No Way Home cleared $1.9 billion and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is just shy of a billion with over $954 million. Marvel hopes to end Phase 4 on a high note with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever whose trailer provoked a universal response of good will after its reveal at Comic-Con International: San Diego this weekend.
Thor: Love and Thunder surely hoped it was firmly positioned to becoming the fourth-highest grossing film of the summer, but that may not be the case, given Minions: The Rise of Gru strong showing against the God Bod. After $17.7 million in its fourth weekend, Thor’s total has risen to $297.8 million, the 48th-best total after 24 days, just ahead of Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets, which had an $18.9 million fourth weekend and finished with $368 million. Minions may not travel that high, but it is $13 million ahead of the first Minions film, which had a $12.3 million fourth frame. Minions, unlike Thor, is headed somewhere close to $350 million and is over $570 million worldwide. What will be the next family film to approach a number like that? Between this, Jurassic World: Dominion, The Black Phone, and Nope, Universal’s films are going to gross over $1.8 billion this summer, and with Easter Sunday and Beast still on the slate, the studio may drive closer to $2 billion. Of course, Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick has grossed over $1.24 billion all by itself, $635 million of that was brought in domestically with another $10 million in its ninth weekend of release. It will soon pass Jurassic World for 7th place on the all-time first run domestic list.
Wrapping things up with last week’s releases, the adaptation of Where the Crawdads Sing had a solid drop down to $10.3 million, bringing its total to $38.3 million, which aligns its take with Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which had $37.9 million after 10 days and a $10.2 million second weekend. It ultimately finished with over $65 million. That would be another solid showing for the adult market after Elvis, which took over $118 million and is outpacing Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report from 2002. Baz Luhrmann’s film appears to have a new $135 million floor. That is $200 million combined for two films skewing to older audiences after most individual films have had trouble breaking the $50 million barrier since the pandemic began. A great sign indeed. Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, on the other hand, is lost in the Minions wave, grossing only $3.9 million. With $13.8 million total the film may just limp itself over the $20 million line. A24 continues to slow roll Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, increasing its run from 153 to 590 theaters this weekend. It had its biggest single day on Friday with over $268,000, but it still finished just outside the top 10. It has grossed over $2.5 million to date. Focus’ Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris hung on for another week in the 10th slot with $1.4 million for a total of $4.7 million.
Families will have a chance next week to see if their kids care about anything other than the Minions. Warner Bros.’ DC League of Super-Pets opens and it could be a title that shows a bit of family power out of the gate a few weeks before the mid-August return to schools potentially slows it down like all late-summer animated releases. B.J. Novak from The Office stars in and makes his feature directorial debut in the murder-mystery Vengeance. Plus, watch out for Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth in the ultra-creepy Sundance thriller, Resurrection, that will be in limited release. It currently sports an 83% on the Tomatometer.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]