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Tom Holland, Channing Tatum, and a Belgian Malinois Wag the Box Office

"Spider-Man" and "The Batman" are sure things. Theaters need more like “Uncharted” and “Dog” — original titles that thrive.

Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland star in Columbia Pictures' UNCHARTED.

“Uncharted”

Clay Enos

“The Batman” will open in two weeks to $150 million or more, but this weekend may be even more important to box-office recovery: “Uncharted” (Sony) and “Dog” (United Artists) both opened to over $15 million. For the last two years, there have been just six weekends in which two new releases grossed even $10 million. What makes this even more extraordinary is both are original, non-franchise titles.

Studios and producers need signs that the public can respond to standalone titles that show some degree of originality. That is what happened here and it’s a big deal.

“Uncharted,” based on a well-known video game and starring Tom Holland, while his most recent “Spider-Man” is still #3, will gross and estimated $44 million for the three-day weekend; $51 million, with Presidents Day added. That’s as much as 50 percent above conservative estimates and a third better than the more realistic ones.

It is the best result for any non-franchise opening in over two years (ahead of “Dune,” which lost some sales to same-day streaming). By comparison, “Free Guy” with Ryan Reynolds last summer impressed with a $28 million debut.

This improvement suggests a business in recovery. It also attests to its star’s growth as a draw,  previously uncertain apart from his Marvel character.

It didn’t hurt that tens of millions of “Spider-Man” viewers saw the “Uncharted” trailer in recent weeks. Still: That guarantees nothing, particularly for an original film. Critical response was weak, and as it turned out, irrelevant to its large initial response. Its B+ Cinemascore (average, not reported by Sony but available from other sources) is lower than what the grosses suggest.

Two weekends into its international run, the film has grossed $139 million. That’s a decent start for an expensive production ($120 million before marketing), and shows that it isn’t just domestic audiences who hunger for something fresh.

DOG, Channing Tatum, 2022. ph: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / © United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Dog”

©United Artists / courtesy Everett Collection

“Dog,” though grossing only about a third of “Uncharted,” cost only $15 million. Its four-day estimate is $18 million, with a real chance with word-of-mouth to go much higher. Co-directed by its star Channing Tatum, the story of an ex-Army ranger traveling with a military dog to a buddy’s funeral, the family-oriented comedy opened better than all post-Christmas releases other than “Scream” and “Jackass Forever.”

Tatum has been lower profile in recent years; it’s his first lead role since “Logan Lucky” in 2017 and clearly his bona fides as a star remain intact. More importantly, audiences responded to a film that sounded generic and uncertain. That’s a triumph for United Artists marketing. Like Sony and Paramount, it’s worked hard to maintain its theatrical presence and not rush home availability. These three companies provided all four new films to open over $15 million this year and come at a critical time.

Also in the top 10 is “The Cursed” (LD). It managed only $1.7 million in 1,687 theaters. The horror film played at Sundance 2021 as “Eight for Silver.”

Total gross came to $93 million. That’s 90 percent of two years ago, which was the week after Presidents Day. If we compare it to that 2020 holiday, that comes to 60 percent. So overall business still lags, even as green shoots appear. Our ongoing four-week comparison to 2020 now stands at 56 percent of the pre-Covid level.

Holdovers helped. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Sony) fell only 4 percent. “Sing 2” (Universal) dropped 8 percent. But the second weekends of “Death on the Nile” (Paramount), “Marry Me” (Universal), and “Blacklight” (Briarcliff) all dropped around half from their less-than-impressive debuts.

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, (aka VERDENS VERSTE MENNESKE), from left: Anders Danielsen Lie, Renate Reinsve, 2021. © Neon / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Worst Person in the World”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Three subtitled films continue to be standouts. The third weekend of “The Worst Person in the World” (Neon), now up to 265 theaters, grossed $500,000. It could place in the top 10 next week (it’s #13 now). “Drive My Car” (Janus) added another $209,000, and still looks primed to reach $2 million, a level similar to “Parallel Mothers.” All these films are aided by the exceptionally high number of dates they have, possible because of much easier-than-normal screen access.

“The Automat,” self-released at the Film Forum in New York by Slice of Pie Productions, did an impressive $12,420. The documentary about classic self-service restaurants clearly has at least local appeal. “Ted K,” released by Neon’s offshoot Super LTD. and “Strawberry Mansion” (Music Box), both grossed around $1,000 per screen in 28 theaters each.

The Top Ten

1. Uncharted (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 47; Est. budget: $120 million

$44,155,000 in 4,275 theaters; PTA: $10,329; Cumulative: $44,155,000

2. Dog (United Artists) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 60; Est. budget: $15 million

$15,135,000 in 3,677 theaters; PTA: $4,116; Cumulative: $15,135,000

3. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) Week 10; Last weekend: #4

$7,200,000 (-4%) in 2,956 (-344) theaters; PTA: $2,436; Cumulative: $764,541,000

4. Death on the Nile (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend: #1

$6,253,000 (-51%) in 3,280 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,906; Cumulative: $24,980,000

5. Jackass Forever (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend: #2

$5,240,000 (-35%) in 3,071 (-582) theaters; PTA: $1,706; Cumulative: $46,784,000

6. Marry Me (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend: #3; also streaming on Peacock

$3,680,000 (-54%) in 3,643 (+1) theaters; PTA: $1,010; Cumulative: $16,603,000

7. Sing 2 (Universal) Week 9; Last weekend: #6; also streaming on Peacock and on PVOD

$2,840,000 (-8%) in 2,476 (-355) theaters; PTA: $1,147; Cumulative: $147,359,000

8. Scream (Paramount) Week  6 ; Last weekend: #7

$1,955,000 (-34%) in 1,907 (-712) theaters; PTA: $1,025; Cumulative: $77,010,000

9. Blacklight (Briarcliff) Week 2; Last weekend: #5

$1,860,000 (-47%) in 2,772 (no change) theaters; PTA: $671; Cumulative: $7,161,000

10. The Cursed (LD) NEW –  Metacritic: 62

$1,722,000 in 1,687 theaters; PTA: $1,021; Cumulative: $1,722,000

 

 

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases 

Strawberry Mansion (Music Box) – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle 2021

$28,784 in 28 theaters; PTA: $1,028

Ted K (Neon) – Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: Berlin 2021

$24,300 in 28 theaters; PTA: $868

The Automat (Slice of Pie) –  Festivals include: Telluride 2021

$12,420 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,420

The Worst Person in the World (Neon) – Week 3

$500,229 in 265 (+215) theaters;  Cumulative: $1,107,000

Compartment Number 6 (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$15,084 in 11 (+5) theaters;  Cumulative: $68,579

Belle (GKids) Week 6

$41,648 in 32 (-32) theaters; Cumulative: $3,860,000

Who We Are (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$25,549 in 226 (-29) theaters;  Cumulative: $181,805

Jockey (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$10,019 in 64 (-14) theaters; Cumulative: $86,972

Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$119,827 in 142 (-79) theaters; Cumulative: $1,772,000

Nightmare Alley (Searchlight) Week 10; also on PVOD

$55,000 in 250 (-155) theaters; Cumulative: $11,129,000

Drive My Car (Janus) Week 11

$209,375 in 213 (+86) theaters; Cumulative: $1,568,000

Licorice Pizza (United Artists) Week 13

$634,000 in 1,307 (-670) theaters; Cumulative: $15,368,000

Belfast (Focus) Week 15; also on PVOD

$191,000 in 734 (-194) theaters; Cumulative: $8,371,000

 

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