Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the films that was preempted by the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The Valentine’s Day opener had amassed over $142 million in just under its first month of release when the alarm bells went off and theaters were soon closing across the nation. As if waiting in the weeds for a second chance, the sequel stormed into theaters this weekend to show the video game character was not done with families and the kids clearly were not done with him, laying the groundwork for some great numbers to come this summer.
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
By the end of this weekend, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 not only has an impressive number in its pocket but finds itself high on many of the charts that are striking whether during the pandemic or prior to it. $71 million this weekend handily bests the $58 million that the original opened to. It even beat Bad Boys For Life, which was the highest opening of 2020 with $62.5 million and had just enough pre-pandemic runway to gross $206.3 million. Sonic 2’s opening is also the second best of 2022 (behind The Batman’s $134 million start), the fifth best from 2020 on, and the seventh best April opening of all-time ahead of 2009’s Fast and Furious (29% Tomatometer score) and 2010’s Clash of the Titans (27% Tomatometer score). Both of the Sonic films have actually done OK with critics at 63% on the Tomatometer for the original and 67% for the sequel, which puts both into Fresh territory.
But the goal Paramount is aiming for is monetary, of course, as it hopes to reach $200 million at the domestic box office, and there is some good news on that front. While there have been several films opening to over $60 million that have come up short of that milestone, it is a different story when it comes to those geared towards families, namely those rated PG. That’s a rating you don’t see as much anymore, though certainly more than G. Among the 39 PG-rated films that have opened to over $60 million, only two of them (Ice Age: The Meltdown and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) have failed to reach $200 million. On the other hand, those two films both grossed over $600 million worldwide. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 would need $434 million to pass Warcraft as the highest-grossing video game film ever and it may do at least half of that in North America. It currently stands at $141 million worldwide.
(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing)
Just last week, Sony’s Marvel-adjacent Morbius was King of the Crop, but it took a huge nosedive this week. There is no good spin to it either, as Morbius fell 74% down to $10.2 million, earning it the worst second weekend ever for a film opening to over $35 million. Ride Along 2 previously held the record with a 64.7% drop down to $12.4 million in 2016, while Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army just missed the cutoff by earning $34.5 million in its first weekend, but it fell 70.7% to $10.11 million in its second weekend. Morbius’ total now stands at $57 million, roughly the same amount Hannah Montana: The Movie had after 10 days of release, but even the latter had a $13.4 million second frame. Morbius did not just take itself right out of a narrow path to $100 million, but even $75 million might be a stretch for it now. Conservatively the film is going to need over $180 million worldwide (more likely $250 million) to break even. Currently it stands at $112 million.
(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)
The other big release of the week was a contender for the Rotten Returns section but it did not quite set as big an all-time low as Morbius did. Michael Bay’s Ambulance will go down as the worst opening in his career with an $8.7 million start. That is weaker than even his 2005 bomb The Island, which opened to $9.2 million back in 2005 and is his lowest-grossing film ever with $35.8 million. Ambulance’s impressively minimalist budget of just $40 million prevents it from being a complete disaster. Bay’s worst overseas grossers have been 13 Hours ($16.5 million) and Pain & Gain ($36.3 million). Even The Island pulled in another $127 million internationally. If Ambulance can pull in roughly three times its domestic haul, the film could still end up in the black. And this is all despite the fact that the film earned the best reviews of Bay’s career at 69% on the Tomatometer.
Does the failure of Ambulance mean anything in the grander scheme of “original” films? (Yes, it’s a remake of a 2005 Danish film, but it’s not part of an ongoing franchise IP, and it might as well have been a wholly original idea to domestic audiences.) The Lost City pulled in an additional $9.2 million this weekend and brought its total up to nearly $69 million, which puts it on track to finish with $90-95 million; an original star-based adventure comedy making $90+ million is a positive. An “original” Michael Bay film starring Jake Gyllenhaal headed to around $25 million is not entirely a negative, as Gyllenhaal’s pre-pandemic numbers were not exactly barnburners either: Prince of Persia ($90 million), Jarhead ($62 million), Source Code ($54 million), Southpaw ($52 million), End of Watch ($41 million), Nightcrawler ($32 million), and 2017’s Life ($30 million). When Bullet Train with Brad Pitt pulls in $100 million this summer, the relevance of Ambulance in the new era will be a distant memory.
(Photo by David Bornfriend/©A24)
A24 expanded the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once this weekend and it is following the path of one of the studio’s best successes. Ex Machina opened to $237,264 in 4 theaters back in 2015, while Everything Everywhere began with $501,305 in 10 theaters two weeks ago. Ex Machina expanded to 39 theaters in its second weekend and grossed $798,661; Everything Everywhere moved into 38 theaters last week and made $1.07 million. In its third weekend, Ex Machina was in 1,255 theaters and grabbed $5.34 million; this weekend, Everything Everywhere was in 1,250 theaters and made $6 million. The Daniels’ film now has $8.4 million and could be on track to surpass Alex Garland’s directorial debut, which finished with $25.4 million.
Meanwhile, just how is The Batman doing on his path to $400 million? Not as great as many had hoped. Matt Reeves’ film added $6.5 million this weekend, bringing its 38-day total to $359 million. That is just a bit ahead of Revenge of the Sith and over $6 million behind Spider-Man: No Way Home, neither of which made it to $400 million. The Batman’s sixth weekend was slightly higher than both of those films, but it is going to need some very steady small drops over the next several weeks, otherwise its final gross is headed between $380-390 million, which is still a total that will likely not be challenged by more than five films the rest of the year. Its worldwide total stands at over $735 million, passing F9’s $726 million to become the third-highest grossing studio release globally behind Spider-Man: No Way Home and No Time To Die since 2020.
(Photo by Jaap Buitendijk/©Warner Bros.)
The third chapter in the proposed five-movie Harry Potter prequel series opens next week, and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is hoping attendance will be up again after the first two films saw domestic totals drop from $234 million to $159 million. Thankfully for Warner Bros. the international hauls are keeping this franchise alive, and it got off to an early start this weekend with $58 million. On Wednesday, Sony is also releasing the true story of Stuart Long, a boxer who then devoted his life to the priesthood, in Father Stu, with Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]