Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour undoubtedly had a monster weekend, but did we read too much into the pre-release hype or were we misled in any way? We are not burying the lede in any way here. This is the most successful concert film of all time. It is a historical release for a theater-based distribution arm. It could still very well outgross every other film on the calendar the rest of 2023. But the numbers did change wildly this weekend, and it is still anyone’s guess just how high it climbs.
Consider the headlines we have seen since the announcement of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’s release. Films moved off the release date. It had the highest single-day pre-sales in the history of Fandango — and that was after just three hours. As of last week, advance sales were reported at more than $100 million, leading speculation that this weekend’s haul could be over $125 million or even challenging Barbie’s year-leading $162 million start. Well, perhaps some of those sales were for the weekdays or another weekend because the estimated haul for The Eras Tour this weekend is coming in at $96 million.
Absolutely nothing to sneeze at. But that is also with $2.8 million tacked on after it was announced on Wednesday that the film would begin its shows on Thursday night instead of the planned 6 p.m. launch on Friday with its $19.89 adult tickets and $13.13 children and seniors price. Its $39 million Friday take (plus Thursday — though some are reporting as $37.8 million) amounted to the second-biggest opening day ever in October, behind only Joker’s $39.3 million. Ultimately it fell just short of that film’s $96.2 million start to have the biggest October opening ever. (In fact, it’s the fourth-best opening for any film opening between August 1–November 1.) Any disappointment that it was not somehow bigger is a result of rampant speculation envisioning a truly one-of-a-kind event that we have never seen before.
David Gordon Green’s The Exorcist: Believer dropped back to second, falling 58 percent to $11 million in weekend two. That brings its 10-day total to $44.9 million. Back in 2008, Saw V had $45.4 million at the end of its second weekend, which added up to $9.7 million. That puts Exorcist on a path somewhere north of $57 million, but not much more than $60 million–$65 million for its landing. An additional $40 million internationally currently means this film directly will make its money back and a little then some, but it’s going to take a lot more profitable Exorcists to cover the $400 million investment for the franchise rights.
Speaking of franchises, Saw X fell only 31 percent in its third weekend. That is the lowest drop any film in the series during the first six weekends of their release. Saw II fell 37.7 percent in its fifth weekend making $2.4 million on its way to a franchise best of over $87 million. Saw X made $5.4 million; the fourth best third weekend for a Saw film bringing its 17-day total to $41.1 million. That puts the film smack dab between the numbers for Ouija and Sinister which, respectively, had third weekends of $5.8 million and $4.99 million and 17-day totals of $43.3 million and $39.4 million. That would put Saw X with a finish somewhere between $48.1 million–$50.7 million. Throw in another $25-plus million on the international front, and that is a solid finish for the $13 million production.
The kids have their own franchise going with Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie. It dropped back to third this week with $7 million bringing its 17-day total to $49.8 million. The closest family film in October to achieve these numbers is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which had grossed $45.7 million at this point after a $7.1 million third weekend. It finished with over $66 million, so somewhere in the vicinity of $70 million for the animated doggies is now very possible. Meanwhile, non-franchise starter The Creator fell to $4.3 million for a total of $32.4 million. That is less than a million ahead of where Ron Howard’s Inferno was in 2016, which did not even reach $35 million. At only $79 million worldwide, this is another loser for 20th Century Studios.
That company’s other film in the top 10, Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting In Venice has reached $35 million, but not by much. After another $2 million this weekend its total is at $38.9 million domestic and over $105 million worldwide. Not enough to make this more than a trilogy. That may be forthcoming for The Conjuring spinoff series, as The Nun II continues to flourish with $1.7 million. The film is over $257 million worldwide and it joins M3GAN, Evil Dead Rise, Insidious: The Red Door, Scream VI, and Talk To Me as some of the most profitable films of the year.
Sony’s The Equalizer 3 isn’t quite yet there in profit, despite raising its domestic total to over $90 million this weekend. Added to another $86-plus million internationally, the film still needs around $10 million to get out of the red, but that could be made up in home-video sales. Thankfully, it releases on 4K Blu-ray on November 14 before Best Buy gets out of the physical media business for good. Duck Dynasty origin story The Blind also comes out on DVD on that same day, and it has brought its total up to $13.9 million.
That is higher than Sony’s platformed-into-wide-release Dumb Money. The story of GameStop’s Wall Street whirlwind spent two weeks in limited release before finally launching into over 2,800 theaters and reaching $12.5 million to date. Dumb Money is only the second expansion-based release of the year to gross that much, with Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City being the other. In 2022, only the phenomenon of Everything Everywhere All at Once successfully expanded well beyond that number before the November/December awards season. As we approach that season this year, Neon opened Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall this weekend into five theaters, where it grossed $125,000. Their opening of last week’s The Royal Hotel has grossed $644,000 total, and even A24’s limited launch of Dicks: The Musical, which had a top 10 per-theater-average for the year, fell big. Upping its release from eight to 15 theaters still resulted in a 57-percent drop to $94,000, bringing its total to $354,000.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by AMC Theaters