Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: The Flash and Elemental Secure Disappointing Debuts

The DC superhero flick and Pixar's latest animated treat took the first and second spots this weekend but performed below expectations, which doesn't bode well for the future.

by | June 18, 2023 | Comments


The DC Universe had their greatest success in 2018 with James Wan’s Aquaman. The sequel to which will be the final chapter before James Gunn gets his hands on rebooting nearly everything. Since 2018 (both pre- and post-pandemic) DC’s numbers have fallen on hard times. Shazam!, though a financial success, was the lowest-grossing film of the lot in 2019. Birds of Prey was on its last legs even before theaters were shut down in 2020. Wonder Woman 1984 became the guinea pig of the HBO MAX streaming experiment pre-vaccine. And though they tried to desperately convince everyone that Black Adam was a success, it most assuredly was not. This weekend The Flash gets its chance to shine with the nostalgia floodlights on full display, but audiences were not entirely buying.

King of the Crop: The Flash Debuts at No. 1, but It Doesn’t Look Promising

When the combined Thursday and Friday grosses from The Flash came out to $24.5 million, you could hear the alarm bells go off. Higher than Shazam’s $20.3 million but lower than Black Adam’s $26.6 million, that total immediately sent eyeballs looking at the final grosses, and now they likely want to look away from them.

The Flash grossed $55.1 million over the weekend. Even its estimated $64 million through the holiday Monday is less than what Black Adam started with last October, and that film only did 2.5 times its opening. Flash’s budget is reported to land somewhere around $200-220 million; no live-action film since 2011 to open in June below $75 million went on to gross $220 million. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam! are the only pre-pandemic DCU films to do over 2.55 times their first weekend (and Shazam! was helped by a lower opening of $53.5 million). These numbers have to be concerning for Warner Bros.

The Flash opened to about $6 million less than Transformers: Rise of the Beasts did last weekend. That film got some positive press because it bested the opening of the prior two entries, signs that the franchise was on its last legs — more on how long that positive press lasted in a moment. No matter that, The Flash will not run into the kind of crowd-dividing fare that Transformers did this weekend with only the “R”-rated No Hard Feelings entering theaters Thursday, so its drop may not turn out to be as bad. But anything below $25 million in weekend two will put it in league with X-Men: First Class, F9, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Incredible Hulk, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, none of which hit $175 million. And while theaters are reaping the benefits of tentpoles, we are looking at a summer when The Flash, Transformers, The Little Mermaid, and Fast X are likely to each post losses between $100-175 million for the studios.

Rotten Returns: Elemental Scores Pixar’s Lowest Opening Weekend Since A Bug’s Life

If The Flash failed to win the weekend it likely would have found itself here. Instead, it is the other $200 million production occupying the No. 2 spot in more ways than one. Disney and Pixar’s Elemental opened to just $29.5 million, which is the lowest in the animation company’s history since A Bug’s Life, just its second feature, opened to $33.5 million in November 1998. (Toy Story opened to $29.1 million in 1995.) Just before the pandemic began, Onward started with $39.11 million. Even Elemental director Peter Sohn’s debut The Good Dinosaur, Pixar’s lowest-grossing pre-pandemic film ($123.1 million), opened to $39.15 million. That was one of just three financial failures for Pixar, including Cars 3 and last year’s mega-bomb Lightyear, which started with $50.5 million before crashing with just $118.3 million domestic and $226 million worldwide. Elemental is now praying it can make as much, as its international total is at a mere $44.5 million right now.

The Top 10 and Beyond: Spider-Man Clings to Third While Transformers Tumbles

On the flipside, the biggest success of the summer to date is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The film’s $27.8 million is the ninth-best third weekend ever for films opening in June, and its total of $280.4 million is the 11th-best total after 17 days of release for this month. That is just behind Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 ($284.6 million), and that film’s third weekend was only $24.7 million. Across the Spider-Verse is on a pace to finish somewhere between $380-$410 million, eventually passing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (finishing the weekend with over $344 million) to become the biggest film of the summer and the odds-on favorite now to keep that title. Worldwide, it has grossed over $489 million.

Speaking of second weekends in the low 20s, that’s where Transformers: Rise of the Beasts wished it could be, as its estimate is coming in at just $20 million, a 67% drop. Its numbers fell behind Spider-Verse all week and now in fourth place, it has just barely gotten itself over $100 million. That is just $11 million ahead of The Last Knight, signaling that Beasts is headed towards a finish of under $150 million domestic. Worldwide, the film is only at $250 million. Fast X is also on its last domestic legs with $2.4 million this weekend, bringing its total to $142 million domestic and $676 million international, continuing to slot it as one of the biggest bombs of all time in relation to its mega-budget of $340 million.

The Little Mermaid grossed $11.6 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to just under $254 million. That has it closely aligned with Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which had $250.7 million after 24 days of release and a $14 million fourth weekend. Clones just got itself over the milestone with $302 million. That is a far cry below the pace Mermaid had been setting with the $355 million-grossing Aladdin, which had $264 million after a $17.3 million fourth frame. Mermaid is headed for over half a billion worldwide, but with only $185 million of that coming from the international side, this is starting to look like a pretty big loser for Disney.

Lionsgate’s release of The Blackening netted $6 million in its opening; Tim Story’s comic horror film only cost $5 million. The Indian epic Adipurush hit the top 10 with $2.5 million over the weekend. Celine Song’s Past Lives expanded into 85 theaters this weekend and grossed $760,000. It’s total now stands at $1.9 million as it prepares to go wide next week on the same weekend that Wes Anderson’s latest does.

Asteroid City opened in just six theaters in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and grossed an impressive $790,000. That is the best launch ever for a film in six theaters, ahead of American Hustle ($740,455), Blue Jasmine ($612,064), Midnight in Paris ($599,003), and The Whale ($332,152). The $120,000 per-theater average is also the best of 2023, besting Beau Is Afraid’s $80,099. It is also the best PTA since 2019 when Parasite opened to a $131,072 average in just three theaters. If the estimate holds, Asteroid City’s PTA will be roughly $131,666.

On the Vine: No Hard Feelings Hopes to Make an Impact

As mentioned previously, No Hard Feelings with Jennifer Lawrence is the only major opening next weekend. Since 2017, only four R-rated original comedies have grossed over $60 million including Girls Trip, Good Boys, Game Night, and Blockers. No Hard Feelings comes from the makers of Good Boys, and Sony is hoping it will join that list.

Full List of Box Office Results: June 16-18, 2023

  • $55.1 million ($55.1 million total)

  • $29.5 million ($29.5 million total)

  • $27.8 million ($280.4 million total)

  • $20 million ($103 million total)

  • $11.6 million ($254.5 million total)

  • $6 million ($6 million total)

  • $5 million ($344.4 million total)

  • $3.8 million ($32.8 million total)

  • $2.5 million ($2.5 million total)

  • $2 million ($142.4 million total)

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 ©Warner Bros.

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