The summer season kicked off in grand fashion last week. This week we are reminded of the terms “word-of-mouth” and “frontloaded.” The former is something that has been sporadic to identify during the pandemic, but the latter is starting to feel more common, especially if time is feeling more like a flat circle and moviegoers are getting used to the concept of waiting for those decreased theatrical-to-streaming windows to close up. “Better safe than sorry” also applies to the old-fashioned concept of word-of-mouth as well, and the numbers on last week’s big winner suggest this is more of a symptom of that than counting the days to a Disney+ premiere.
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/©Marvel Studios)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, to no one’s surprise, led the way at the box office for a second straight week. But it took a much sharper drop than expected, all the way down to $61 million. Last week we said that $72 million was the floor if this film wanted an all-but-guarantee to reach $400 million, but now let’s examine if this puts it in jeopardy. The film missed out on becoming the 15th film in history to reach $300 million in 10 days. It will do that now in 11 or 12, so no tears necessary. At $291.9 million, the film is still well ahead of Wonder Woman, which grossed $58.5 million in its second weekend and was only up to $206 million in 10 days. But that 68% drop that Strange took is more akin to Batman v Superman, which fell 69.1% to $51.3 million in its second frame. Strange is also ahead of that film’s $260 million in 10 days, and it continued to fall hard, while Wonder Woman did not fall more than 40% after its second weekend for 12 straight weeks.
Word-of-mouth appears to be a factor here, unless parents really somehow think this is worse than all the other “PG-13” comic books they have taken their kids to. (Spoiler: It’s not even close.)
Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is considered one of the MCU’s more disappointing entries, had $313 million by day 10 with a $77.7 million second weekend (a 59.4% drop) and finished with $459 million. It took The Batman 17 days to get to $300 million this year, and it has settled into around $369 million total now that it is available on HBO. So Multiverse of Madness has a 5- to 6-day edge on that film. Based on some of the lower third weekends among films in the $400 million category like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($28.6 million) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($26.1 million), it’s going to take a number probably at least in the low 30s next week for Multiverse to stay on track to become the 37th film ever to reach $400 million and the 11th Marvel-based film to do so. Its worldwide total is currently at $688 million, so again, no tears.
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
There are few good things to say about the performance of Universal and Blumhouse’s new adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel, Firestarter, maybe save for the fact that was only a $12 million production so it will not take a huge bath financially. Among the simultaneous releases Universal has put in theaters and on the Peacock service (i.e. The Boss Baby: Family Business, Halloween Kills, Marry Me) this had the weakest showing in theaters with just a $3.8 million start in over 3400 theaters. Add on top of that a drubbing from critics (13% on the Tomatometer) on the film that the studio held from them until the same time it began showing across the country both in theaters and at home. That puts the film lower than Maximum Overdrive (15%) and Thinner (14%) and ahead of only Cell (11%), Graveyard Shift (0%) and the sequel to the film of the short story that King sued to take his name off of, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (10%). The 1984 adaptation with Drew Barrymore opened to $4.1 million in 1,356 theaters and grossed just over $17 million. In today’s dollars that would amount to about an $11.4 million start and over $47 million total.
(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)
Universal is having a much nicer run with The Bad Guys, which had two weeks at No. 1 and now two weeks in second place, adding $6.9 million to its now total of $66 million. That tracks the film very close to the numbers of Mean Girls and puts it on its way, as we’ve been saying, to a total somewhere around $85 million. Families are not done with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 yet either, as it brought its total up to $175.7 million after a $4.6 million weekend in third place. The sequel continues to pace better than A Quiet Place even if that film has beat it weekend-to-weekend for four of the last five weeks. After 38 days, John Krasinki’s film had $169 million and finished with over $188 million. Sonic may very well still beat that.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, meanwhile, is grasping onto the thinnest of margins if it wishes to get over the $100 million line. At $90 million after Sunday, it is just barely ahead of 2018’s Rampage, which had $89.8 million. Last week’s Fantastic Beasts tally was a little lower than Rampage’s fourth weekend; in the fifth go-round it is about a million behind, and Rampage ultimately finished with $101 million. But even a minor victory into nine figures here does not erase what a flop Dumbledore is for Warner Bros., with just around $370 million worldwide. They could be looking at a $100 million bath on this one.
(Photo by Kimberley French/©Paramount Pictures)
Paramount’s The Lost City continues to trek towards the $100 million milestone though. It is now up to $97.1 million after making another $1.7 million this weekend. Despite being available on Paramount Plus, it appears it is going to have at least one more go in the top 10 next week. If Firestarter makes a quick exit to the bottom, The Lost City may even stick around until Memorial Day weekend, and that could be the time Paramount celebrates its first multi-$100 million grossers since 2018.
A24 is going to be doing some celebrating of their own very shortly too as Everything Everywhere All At Once has officially passed Hereditary to become the studio’s third highest-grossing film ever. After just a 6% drop to $3.3 million, the Daniels’ film is up to $47.1 million and is still in the top five. By the start of next weekend it will have passed Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and by the end of it, it very likely will pass the Safdies’ Uncut Gems to become A24’s highest-grossing film period. Roadside Attractions can also raise a glass to their release of Family Camp this weekend; the faith-based film made $1.4 million in 854 theaters. That is the studio’s best opening weekend since the Oscar-winning Judy back in 2019.
(Photo by Focus Features)
Next weekend, we’ll see if one of the solid hits for adults can strike up enough interest to be one of the top 10 films of the summer. Downton Abbey: A New Era is the second feature film based on the television show. The first one in 2019 opened to over $31 million and finished with $96.8 million. The sequel, currently at 76% on the Tomatometer (compared to the original’s Certified Fresh 84%), will likely battle it out with Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis to for the 10th slot this summer. If that film fails to attract even a fraction of Rocketman’s audience from 2019, Downton Abbey could sneak itself in. A24 will also try to draw their horror core next week with Alex Garland’s Men with Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. Garland’s third feature currently sits at 86% on the Tomatometer, while Ex Machina is Certified Fresh at 92% and Annihilation is Certified Fresh at 88%.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]