The ramifications of the actors strike at the weekend box office continues to be felt, as ticket sales this weekend plummeted to $58.3M, which is currently the third-lowest of 2023. Remember, Legendary/Warner Bros’ Zendaya-Timothee Chalamet-Austin Butler-Florence Pugh sequel Dune: Part Two was originally set to play this weekend, and with its departure, there’s at least $50M — if not substantially more — missing from the box office.
Legendary opted to move that sequel, based on the Frank Herbert novel, to March 2024, so that the actors could properly promote the sci-fi pic; the first pic’s ticket sales siphoned from a day-and-date theatrical play with streaming service Max.
After this weekend, the next two lowest at the box office for 2023 to date were Super Bowl weekend (Feb. 10-12) with $52.6M, and Sept. 22-24, which saw $51.8M.
Speaking of day-and-date, the good news with Universal-Peacock’s Five Nights at Freddy‘s is that it cracked past $100M, becoming one of a few titles with such a dynamic distribution model to do so (alongside Black Widow, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong and Jungle Cruise). The bad news is that the movie’s availability in the home to Peacock paid subs, plus the massive YA leaning nature of the IP, has the videogame movie dropping like a rock at $17.8M in weekend 2, -78%, for a running ten-day total by tomorrow of $112M. Freddy‘s is No. 1, benefiting from the circumstance that there’s no Dune 2.
Can you imagine if we didn’t have the Taylor Swift: Eras Concert Film on the schedule? Her faithful continue to make the movie No. 2, with an $11.9M take in weekend 4 and running total of $164.3M.
While some in distribution think it’s hard to quantify the impact of the actors strike (now in its 114th day) at the box office, its pretty clear that thespians are needed to promote and deliver large halos around tentpoles so that the message is transmitted around the globe that there’s a must-see event.
In certain cases, particularly with horror, and movies like Nun II and Five Nights at Freddy‘s, IP can get a studio by. But brand alone doesn’t sell. You need stars. It can be argued that part of the expected slowdown next weekend with the opening of Disney/Marvel Studios’ The Marvels stems from the studio’s inability to promote the pic properly at Comic-Cons. Even if the strike settles this weekend, it’s not clear whether the pic’s cast will be able to attend the movie’s “fan event” in Las Vegas this coming week. It would not be shocking if we see The Marvels charting one of the lowest openings for a Marvel Studios movie next weekend in November with less than $70M –lower than 2021’s The Eternals ($71.2M)— the movie not only a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, but also a crossover from the Disney+ series, Ms. Marvel. Presales for The Marvels are pacing behind that of Black Adam and The Flash (those respective openings at $67M and $55M).
Some specialty affair and wide releases from smaller distributors have vied to take advantage of the marketplace this weekend in the lack of competition from a major studio wide release.
A24’s critically acclaimed film festival darling Priscilla from Sofia Coppola is seeing around $4.9M in 4th place from its expansion from four NYC and LA theaters last weekend to 1,350 theaters. That’s better than the expanded weekend on Coppola’s The Beguiled from Focus Features back in July 2017 ($3.2M at 674 theaters), almost near topping the entire cume of the filmmaker’s Bling Ring ($5.8M), and almost near the opening weekend (at 859 theaters) of her Marie Antoinette ($5.3M) back in 2006.
No CinemaScore, but Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak audiences gave the Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny movie a 71% positive and 50% recommend. Women attended at 67%, with 61% between 18-34 and the largest demo being the Euphoria Elordi 18-24 fans at 38%. Diversity demos were 48% Caucasian, 33% Latino and Hispanic, 8% Black, and 12% Asian/other. Priscilla played best on the coasts, but was the strongest in the West. AMC Burbank is the pic’s richest in the nation, with a running total of $11K. Yesterday was $1.9M, $450K of that coming from Thursday night previews.
Pantelion has the robust Eugenio Derbez Spanish-language pic Radical, which is posting a very strong theater average of $5,2K from 419 theaters, or $2.2M for the weekend in 5th place after a $780K Friday. The weepy pic, which follows an aspiring teacher who is giving hope to a down on its luck Mexican border town, spurred word of mouth with Latino and Hispanic audiences in its initial Mexico release on Oct. 20, the movie having grossed $5M there. Strong numbers for Radical in Los Angeles, El Paso, Dallas and Houston. Exhibitor Relations firm PaperAirplane handled marketing on this. Derbez has the highest grossing Spanish-language at the domestic box office, Instructions Not Included, from 2013, which grossed $44.4M.
Bleecker Street has the Meg Ryan directed return to rom-com, and first feature starring role in eight years, What Happens Latter at 1,492 locations, which did an estimated $603K on Friday, for what’s shaping up to be a $1.5M opening weekend in 9th place. A theatrical release will help prop this holiday title, which also stars David Duchovny, on PVOD menus come December, which is where all the money is in these short theatrical window plays. Audiences, like critics (51% on Rotten Tomatoes) aren’t excited about this return to form for Ryan at 43% positive on PostTrak, 25% recommend. Those who bought tickets were women at 70% with the largest demo being those over 55 at 28%. Diversity demos were 57% Caucasian, 13% Hispanic and Latino, 8% Black, and 23% Asian/other. What Happens Later played in the South, Midwest & West. The AMC Lincoln Square in NYC is the pic’s best venue in the nation, with just over $2K.
Outside the top ten, Roadside Attractions has the STX Daisy Ridley-Ben Mendelsohn starring, Neil Burger-directed The Marsh King’s Daughter, with $851k for the weekend after a $310K Friday at 1,055 theaters. With a $806 theater average off Rotten Tomatoes reviews that are at 39% — nobody’s going.
Top 5 pics:
1.) Five Nights at Freddy’s (Uni) 3,789 (+114) theaters, Fri $5.4M (-86%) 3-day $17.8M (-78%), Total $112M/Wk 2
2.) Taylor Swift: Eras Tour (AMC) 3,604 (-169) theaters, Fri $3.6M (-23%) 3-day $11.9M (-23%)/Total $164.3M/ Wk 4
3.) Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple/Par) 3,786 (+154) theaters Fri $1.94M (-27%) 3-day $6.45M (-31%)/Total $51.7M/Wk 3
4.) Priscilla (A24) 1,344 (+1340) theaters, Fri $1.9M (+2788%) 3-day $4.9M (+3612%), Total $5.1M/Wk 2
5.) Radical (Pant) 419 theaters, Fri $780K, 3-day, $2.2M/Wk 1