Horror continues to rule at the box office. Much like the killer who continues to return every time he appears to be dispatched for good, the genre just refuses to die. And each subsequent horror entry seems to be as good as any sequel at this point. A numerical value in the title certainly sells itself, but usually when a franchise hits the sixth chapter, it has more than outlived itself and audiences tend to respond in kind. But last year’s revival of Scream has only increased interest in the franchise. The reviews are good, and the numbers are even better.
This weekend, the appropriately titled, Scream VI took not only the top spot at the box office but posted the best opening of the entire franchise. $44.5 million bests the $34.7 million that Wes Craven’s Scream 3 started with back in 2000. This is the fourth $30+ million opening out of the six films, leaving out the $6.3 million start of Craven’s original in 1996, which went on to have one of the best December multiples of all-time (16.2) on its way to over $103 million. There was also the $18.6 million of the fourth film, which audiences responded to mostly with an “Eh, another one?” attitude 11 years after the third one. Scream VI has already outgrossed Scream 4’s $38.1 million. But just how high will it climb?
The first two films in the franchise are still the only ones to crack $100 million. Scream 2 did it almost a year to the day after the original with $101 million. Last week, we mentioned that only one film in March opening to over $40 million failed to reach that goal, and that was the attempted Power Rangers reboot in 2017, which came up well short with just $85.3 million. Second-lowest on that list was Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which opened to $43.7 million in 2014 and finished with $101 million. The 2022 Scream opened to $30 million (over MLK weekend) and multiplied it by 2.71. Even if the higher gross puts Scream VI closer to the 2.56 of Scream 3, that would still get it to $113 million, more than enough to cover its $35 million budget and making Scream VII a certainty.
After the success of Dumb and Dumber, which was helped by Jim Carrey’s growing popularity in 1994, the Farrelly brothers’ follow-up, Kingpin, was considered a box office disappointment when it opened to $5.5 and finished with only $25 million. The brothers are doing films on their own now, with one of them winning Oscars and Peter Farrelly now doing Champions, which Focus was only able to open to $5.1 million with Kingpin star Woody Harrelson. The only wide release in March (600+ theaters) to open under $5 million and reach $15 million since 2000 was The Upside of Anger back in 2005. Champions barely crossed that statistical threshold. But it would be a true underdog story if Champions wasn’t the lowest-grossing theatrical release of any of the Farrelly films.
Creed III fell 54% this weekend, but that still meant a second weekend of $27.1 million, $10 million higher than Creed II. That makes it the 17th film ever released in March to clear $100 million in its first 10 days. No film in March to have grossed at least $90 million by this point failed to gross at least $150 million. Divergent was the lowest with $150.9 million, and it also had the lowest second weekend on that list with $25.6 million. Creed III is now the second-lowest, but all signs point in the direction of that $150 million estimate we pegged for it last week.
Sony did Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’ sci-fi dinosaur tale, 65, no favors by not screening it for critics. Not that the reviews are great (it’s currently Rotten at 38%) but there have been far more skewered films that did screen for press and did not arrive with the stigma that comes from hiding it. That being said, the film’s reported cost of $45 million is miniscule compared to most spectacles of its type, so its $12.3 million opening is weak but not catastrophic. It can still get itself to around $25 million, and with a little international help (so far it has grossed an additional $8.5 million) it will be a minor loser and not nearly the big one that Marvel may have on its hands. Again.
Which brings us to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is not going much farther here in the U.S. Another 45% drop to $7 million in its fourth weekend brings its total to $197.7 million. That makes it the 10th MCU film to not reach $200 million by its 24th day and ranks now as the third-worst fourth weekend ahead of only The Incredible Hulk ($4.8 million) and Black Widow ($6.4 million). It is still pacing $11 million ahead of Ant-Man and the Wasp, though its predecessor’s fourth frame was $8.7 million. So a domestic haul around $220 million is still very possible, but with only another $250 million internationally, this is an MCU film that is limping its way toward half a billion, a mark only six films in the Universe have fallen short of.
Cocaine Bear is hanging in there with another $6.2 million this weekend, bringing its total to over $51.6 million. That has it aligned closely with the Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey adventure comedy Fool’s Gold, which had a $6.5 million third weekend and had grossed about a million more than the coked-up bear at this point. So a total between $65-70 million seems likely, but that still leaves a gap that needs to be filled internationally (about $30-35 million) to cover its budget. Cocaine Bear has only sold about $14 million in tickets overseas so far.
In the bottom half of the top 10 this week, Jesus Revolution fell just 39% to $5.1 million, putting its total just shy of $40 million. That’s what 2005’s Boogeyman made in its third weekend, but that’s a film that really fell off in its fourth and finished with just $46.5 million. The Revolution is about $1.5 million behind Boogeyman’s numbers right now, but if it does not taper off too much it could very easily surpass $50 million. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish will finally pass $180 million sometime this week, earning more in its 12th week than Guy Ritchie’s Operation Fortune: Ruse du Guerre did in its second, falling 59% to just $1.2 million and $5.5 million overall domestic. And, yes, Avatar: The Way of Water made another $2.7 million in its 13th week and will pass $675 million this week.
DC is going to have another shot next week, though early prospects are pouring cold water on the potential numbers for Shazam!: Fury of the Gods. The original opened to $53 million and finished with only $140 million, despite being one of the best-reviewed of all the films in the DCEU. Warner Bros. has even been tipping off character cameos in the commercials in hopes of enticing viewers to the more family-friendly comic book tale. It will enjoy a week in the No. 1 slot before the next sequel knocks it out, but just how high can it fly?
77% Scream VI (2023)
89% Creed III (2023)
35% 65 (2023)
47% Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
67% Cocaine Bear (2023)
57% Champions (2023)
62% Jesus Revolution (2023)
76% Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
95% Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022)
51% Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre (2023)
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 Philippe Bosse/©Paramount Pictures