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‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’ Scores $16 Million as Older Audiences Wait for ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

The box office needs Tom Cruise to save May.

Laura Haddock

“Downton Abbey: A New Era”

Ben Blackall

Tom Cruise can’t come to the rescue too soon. Despite some good holds and a decent showing for the older-audience “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (Focus), grosses remain in the doldrums.

Only two weeks after Marvel and Disney got summer off to a strong start with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” attendance has returned to its anemic state. This weekend will amass around $74 million for yet another sub-$100 million total — virtually unprecedented for May.

That’s half of the same weekend in 2019, reducing our ongoing four-week comparison to 58 percent for the same 2019 period. That’s close to the all-time low for this year.

“Top Gun: Maverick” has an anticipated four-day take of $100 million; considerably more is possible. It should lead Memorial Day weekend to 2019 parity, when “Aladdin” took in $116 million. For the month overall, we’re looking at 75 percent. Strong individual results don’t make up for the lack of sufficient top releases.

Good performances this weekend included $16 million for “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” which became the best title targeted for older audiences since theaters reopened. (In February, Disney’s “Death on the Nile” managed $13 million.) The “Downton” sequel was 73 percent female and 48 percent over 55. The latter represents a particularly strong showing from the audience that remains most resistant to theaters.

The first “Downton” movie opened to $31 million in 2019, but it had the benefit of serving as a culmination of the TV drama. By comparison, “Sex and the City” was a rare same-cast TV show to become a movie, followed by a sequel that opened to 60 percent of the first. The difference between “SATC” and the second “Downton” can be explained by a post-Covid change, particularly for its intended audience.

Both “Downton” movies received an A Cinemascore. The “SATC” movies fell from A to B+. Oddly, “Downton” dropped 35 percent on Saturday from the combined Thursday/Friday gross and about 25 percent from Friday only. Attribute this to the intense interest among core fans who wanted to see it first. Success now comes down to hold and “Maverick” is expected to draw well from older audiences. There could be overlap, but there is little competition for those viewers over the next few weeks.

MEN, Rory Kinnear, 2022. ph: Kevin Baker /© A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Men

Courtesy Everett Collection

“Men” (A24) was the only other wide opening. With $3.3 million, Alex Garland’s latest film came in #5, placing just ahead of A24’s own “Everything Everywhere All at Once” in its ninth week. “Men” fell far short of his previous “Annihilation” ($11 million) as well as “X,” another recent A24 release. Its D+ Cinemascore (at odds with overall favorable reviews) gives it little hope for recovery.

“Everything” dropped 5 percent, the best of five films among the eight holdovers that dropped 25 percent or less. That includes both “The Bad Guys” (Universal) and “The Lost City” (Paramount), both now also with home availability.

“Everything” is still exclusive to theaters after two months and at $52 million, it now represents A24’s biggest domestic gross and could reach $60 million. “Uncut Gems,” the company’s previous top grosser, skipped nearly all theatrical play in Canada because it was Netflix-exclusive in most of the world.

“Doctor Strange” dropped 49 percent in its third weekend, about midway between the two “Avengers” titles that opened in this period in 2018 and 2019. It could still reach $400 million domestic, although like everything else it will be hurt by “Maverick” competition.

The “Downton” performance contrasts the ongoing weakness in specialized releasing. Although “The Duke” (Sony Pictures Classics) has passed $1 million, that came with a quick national release rather than word of mouth or strong performances at individual theaters.

PLEASURE, back, from left: Sofia Kappel, Zelda Morrison, 2021. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Pleasure”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Others are faring worse. “Montana” (Bleecker Street), in a traditional slow roll out, managed only $19,000 in its second weekend with 24 top locations. “Pleasure” (Neon) in 44, also in its second week, made only $30,000. Today, these results are not unusual.

For the record, “2000 Mules,” self-distributed by right-wing polemicist Dinesh D’Souza, managed $765,000 in 431 theaters. Unlike his previous efforts, Fox News avoided publicizing it.

 

The Top 10

1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$31,600,000 (-49%) in 4,534 (no change) theaters; PTA: $6,970; Cumulative: $342,080,000

2. Downton Abbey (Focus) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 63; Est. budget: $40 million

$16,020,000 in 3,820 theaters; PTA: $4,194; Cumulative: $16,020,000

3. The Bad Guys (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #2; also on PVOD

$6,100,000 (-13%) in 3,705 (-83) theaters; PTA: $1,646; Cumulative: $74,365,000

4. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Paramount) Week 7; Last weekend #3

$3,940,000 (-15%) in 2,943 (-173) theaters; PTA: $1,339; Cumulative: $181,002,000

5. Men (A24) NEW – Cinemascore: D+; Metacritic: 66

$3,293,000 in 2,212 theaters; PTA: $1,489; Cumulative: $3,293,000

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 9; Last weekend #5

$3,136,000 (-5%) in 1,576 (-150)  theaters; PTA: $1,990; Cumulative: $52,263,000

7. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend #6

$1,905,000 (-25%) in 1,923 (-655) theaters; PTA: $991; Cumulative: $93,066,000

8Firestarter (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #4; also on Peacock

$1,900,000 (-69%) in 3,413 (+1) theaters; PTA: $557; Cumulative: $3,633,000

9. The Lost City (Paramount) Week 9; Last weekend #8; also on Paramount Plus and PVOD

$1,500,000 (-12%) in 1,396 (-279) theaters; PTA: $1,074; Cumulative: $99,267,000

10. The Northman (Focus) Week 5; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$1,020,000 (-39%) in 1,263 (-671) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $30,501,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

2000 Mules (D’Souza) NEW

$765,000 in 415 theaters; PTA: $1,843

Family Camp (Roadside Attractions) Week 2

$911,570 in 1,061 (+207) theaters; PTA: $859; Cumulative: $2,750,000

Pleasure (Neon) Week 2

$30,000 in 44 (+42)  theaters; PTA: $682; Cumulative: $51,509

Montana Story (Bleecker Street) Week 2

$18,899 in 24 (+20) theaters; PTA: $787; Cumulative: $41,181

Jazzfest: A New Orleans Story (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$4,346 in 11 (+6) theaters; PTA: $395:; Cumulative: $15,198

Lux Aeterna (Yellow Veil)  Week 3

$15,445 in 19 (+14) theaters; Cumulative: $35,343

Vortex (Utopia) Week 4; also on VOD

$10,252 in 24 (-19) theaters; Cumulative: $120,175

Petit Maman (Neon) Week 5

$37,400 in 83 (-139) theaters; Cumulative: $700,048

The Duke (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$104,289 in 180 (-66) theaters; Cumulative: $1,214,000

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