Thor: Love and Thunder was not going to be challenged by a trio of new releases all aimed at different demographics. But it was scheduled to be challenged by its own fanbase and those who listen to them as to whether the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is worthy of their immediate attention. Last week’s column broke down how there were cracks starting to show in Phase Four, and while this may not be long-term given the familiarity of what is on their calendar going forward, any sign of genuine disappointment with their product is something new for them and should be of some concern.
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/©Marvel Studios)
The fourth Thor film indeed remained in the No. 1 slot this weekend after a first week’s gross of $187.2 million – a solid start for sure, but how about this second weekend? $46 million. That’s a 68% drop. It may not be the absolute worst drop for a film based on a Marvel property (cough, Morbius) but it is the worst drop within “the plan.” What is the counterargument? A big opening means a big drop. If you want to go that route, sure, you can say that Spider-Man: No Way Home dropped 67.5%… after one of the biggest openings of all time with $260 million. But let’s entertain that way of thinking for a moment.
There have been 15 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with opening weekends over $100 million. Only three of them had second-weekend drops over 60% (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). The average drop among them is 57.6%. If Thor: Love and Thunder dropped in the upper 50s, it would have been business as usual. Instead, it had the second-lowest weekend amongst those top 15 in their second weekend, doing slightly better than Homecoming’s $44.2 million (after a $117 million start) facing the opening of War of the Planet of the Apes. Love and Thunder faced off against Where the Crawdads Sing.
(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)
Black Widow fell 67.8% last summer after an $80 million start, but it was when some vaccinated audiences started coming back to theaters and others may have been checking it out at home, paying for it on Disney+. After a $187 million start this May, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness fell 67.5%. It still got itself over $410 million, but it has the lowest opening weekend-to-final gross multiple in the MCU at 2.19; Black Widow was 2.28, and Eternals was 2.31. Yes, Shang-Chi did spread positive vibes, multiplying its $63 million start by 3.55, and No Way Home had a very impressive 3.09 after its massive opening. Love and Thunder is running into Nope next weekend.
Overall it is currently running $19 million ahead of Ragnarok’s pace but had a second weekend that was about $11 million less. Even if we see Taika Waititi’s second Thor film land between $320-330 million total, that is, at best, a 2.28 multiple, joining the ranks of other recent Phase Four films. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Marvels are all likely to open well, but if audiences, like critics, feel the quality is waning once again, how long is that going to last?
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
Animated films have not had a great run since the pandemic began in 2020. It was almost two years before we saw one gross over $100 million (Sing 2). A second occurred this summer with Lightyear, but that one has been considered a disappointment with just $115 million. Only the Minions have truly broken through to deliver numbers that feel pre-2020. Audience just weren’t buying Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, on the other hand. Since the shortened run of Pixar’s Onward in 2020, animated films have not put up huge numbers, but they also haven’t put up extremely low openings either. Spirit Untamed ($4.39 million), Ron’s Gone Wrong ($5.78 million), and now Paws of Fury ($6..2 million) are the only 2,000-plus-theater-launched animated films to open under $10 million. The so-called “Blazing Saddles updated for kids” will probably land between $25-30 million and likely end up on Paramount Plus very soon.
(Photo by Michele K. Short/©Sony Pictures Entertainment)
The best of this week’s newbies prove that it’s not only comic book films that are frontloaded – those from book club can be as well. Such is the case with Where the Crawdads Sing, which on one hand is a positive development for the adult-oriented market, grossing $16 million this weekend. On Thursday the film opened with a very solid $2.3 million, a number that is traditionally attached to a bare-minimum opening weekend of $20 million, and in most cases even higher. Historically, films with that kind of pre-Friday haul ($2.1-$2.5 million) have only opened lower than $20 million three times (The First Purge, Escape Room, Pitch Perfect 3) and Crawdads’ number is easily the lowest in that realm. Downton Abbey: A New Era made $1.05 million on its Thursday opening, opened to $16 million, and is finishing with over $43 million. Crawdads is also the third worst-reviewed film (36%) this year to open with over $10 million, ahead of only Morbius (16%) and Jurassic World Dominion (30%). In 2021, only four films with lower than a 40% score on the Tomatometer opened to over $10 million (Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Addams Family 2, Tom & Jerry, and Halloween Kills).
Minions: The Rise of Gru, on the other hand, scored a 71% with critics and is not only on the verge of grossing more than Sing 2 and Lightyear combined, but also becoming the first animated film since Frozen II to gross over $300 million. At $262.5 million, the Minions sequel has the seventh-highest gross among animated films after 17 days, just above Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets ($260.9 million) and the first Minions ($262.4 million), which only had a $22.9 million third weekend compared to the sequel’s $26 million. A final tally over $350 million is very much in the cards for this one, meaning it could actually outgross Thor: Love and Thunder.
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
Only three films put up better numbers than Top Gun: Maverick‘s $12 million in their eighth weekend – Titanic ($23 million), Avatar ($22.8 million), and Home Alone ($12.6 million). Maverick has already flown past two of those films overall in their initial theatrical runs, and by next weekend, it will pass both The Last Jedi and Marvel’s The Avengers on the all-time top 10 list. Worldwide it has passed $1.2 billion and will be entering the top 20 there very soon as well.
In a better sign that adults are creeping back into theaters, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis just hit the $100 million milestone this week with $7.6 million. It is headed for a landing between $120-130 million. Both The Black Phone and Jurassic World Dominion hit PVOD this week, but audiences are still choosing to experience them in theaters. The former dropped just 32% to $5.3 million and is up to $72 million, while the dinosaurs fell 43% to $4.9 million and will be going over $360 million on Monday. Currently the latter is over $900 million worldwide, but it may come up just shy of hitting a billion.
Focus did not find much success with its PG-rated, adult-targeted Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris, which opened to $1.9 million in 980 theaters for an average of just $1,938. A24 has now let Marcel the Shell With Shoes On linger in limited release for an entire month. Expanding its release to only 153 theaters this weekend it grossed another $552,000 for a total of just $1.6 million. Perhaps it is hoping to continue finding its audience well into August, but there is a shrinking window to get this film back into the top 10, and they may need to do it sooner than later before kids start clamoring to see DC’s Super-Pets and going back to school.
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
One of the summer’s original successes could be opening next week. Just what is Jordan Peele’s Nope all about, now that it is confirmed aliens are a major part of it? Audiences may be ready to find out after a summer of sequels. Nope hopes to become the first R-rated film since 2019 to gross over $100 million, and it may not take long to achieve that. Peele’s previous films, Get Out and Us, grossed $176 million and $175 million, respectively. Could Nope surpass both of them?
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]