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Theaters Will Be Back with ‘Doctor Strange,’ but This Weekend Box Office Hits an All-Time April Low

With Marvel in the wings, studios avoided this weekend and "The Bad Guys" kept the top spot for another week.


“The Bad Guys”

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC

Based on box-office performance, it looks like theaters decided to take the week off for CinemaCon. With studios releasing a record low number of new films post-Covid, none wanted to face a week two against Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which opens May 5. Its opening could triple the gross of all titles this weekend.

To be fair, that’s a low bar to clear at $67 million — the lowest for any April weekend in this century other than the past two Covid-affected ones. In terms of tickets sold (around 6 million), possibly the fewest for any weekend since the 1930s.

“Doctor Strange” is expected to open to at least $150 million; $200 million is possible. Strong initial reaction to Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” both at CinemaCon and in early press screenings, suggest May could provide a one-two punch to launch a strong summer.

This weekend falls exactly three years after the late-April 2019 release of “Avengers: Endgame” and its record opening. By comparison, this  weekend stands at 17 percent and reduces the ongoing four-week running comparison against 2019 to 68 percent. Silver lining: This week’s contrast is likely the worst we will ever see.


Open Road Films

“Memory” (Open Road), the latest in the ever-declining returns for Liam Neeson’s genre titles, was the sole new wide release. Even lacking competition, it managed only #8 for $3.1 million. Ticket buyers favored holdovers, with the top seven titles repeating last week’s positions

At #1 is “The Bad Guys” (Universal), leading two more family-oriented titles with “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (Paramount) and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (Warner Bros.) “Sonic” in particular is astounding at $161 million (and headed for close to $200 million); it has already surpassed the domestic hauls for “No Time to Die” and “A Quiet Place, Part 2.” That uptick clearly shows signs of theater comeback.

A24 smartly booked IMAX theaters for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” before Marvel grabs them next week. The result, combined with terrific word of mouth, was a two percent increase in its gross that added $5.3 million. $50 million remains in sight, a staggering result for the most unlikely success of the year.

Despite weekday signs of ongoing interest (it was the second biggest film for the four days), “The Northman” (Focus) stayed at #4. It fell 49 percent, normal for a second weekend. It should end up somewhere between $30 million-$35 million and could be a strong draw for home play.

Nicolas Cage’s  “The Unbearable Weight of Awesome Talent” (Lionsgate) held to fifth place, off 45 percent with $3.9 million. Its home life will be similarly boosted by theatrical play.

“Everything,” “Northman,” and “Unbearable” are all offbeat, specialized-oriented original titles that found response in wide release. Specialized titles in limited play continue to struggle but showed some signs of life.




“Vortex” (Utopia), Gaspar Noé’s tale of an elderly couple with dementia starring horror maestro Dario Argento, scored an impressive $17,000 at New York’s IFC Center. It holds hope for future good returns from more rarefied arthouses.

Rialto reissued Jean-Jacques Beneix’s 1981 “Diva” to a decent $9,300, also in New York. Two niche documentaries — “Hello, Bookstore” (Greenwich) and “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen” (Zeitgeist) — each grossed around $6,000 in similar dates. All will benefit from prime theaters hungry for fresh titles.

Roger Michell’s “The Duke” (Sony Pictures Classics), a prime candidate for older audiences, quickly widened its second week to 57 theaters to $122,000. The hope is word of mouth can kickstart it for an improved longer run.

Neon didn’t report the second weekend of Celine Sciamma’s “Petite Maman.” Sources indicate it grossed a similar amount in 31 theaters for a better per-theater result.

The Top Ten

1. The Bad Guys (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$16,100,000 (-%) in 4,042 (+34) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $44,440,000

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

$11,351,000 (-27%) in 3,801 (-8) theaters; PTA: $2,986; Cumulative: $160,926,000

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$8,300,000 (-41%) in 3,962 (-283) theaters; PTA: $2,095; Cumulative: $79,553,000

4. The Northman (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$6,130,000 (-49%) in 3,234 (+50) theaters; PTA: $1,895; Cumulative: $22,806,000

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$5,543,000 (+2%) in 2,213 (+80) theaters; PTA: $2,505; Cumulative: $35,492,000

6. The Unbearable Weight of Awesome Talent (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$3,925,000 (-45%) in 3,036 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,293; Cumulative: $13,504,000

7. The Lost City (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #7

$3,900,000 (-10%) in 2,595 (-33) theaters; PTA: $1,503; Cumulative: $90,785,000

8. Memory (Open Road) NEW – Cinemascore:; Metacritic: 41; Est. budget: $

$3,100,000 in 2,555 theaters; PTA: $1,213; Cumulative: $3,100,000

9. Father Stu (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #8

$2,210,000 (-34%) in 2,476 (-229) theaters; PTA: $893; Cumulative: $17,554,000

10. Morbius (Sony) Week; Last weekend #9

$1,500,000 (-35%) in 1,726 (-580) theaters: PTA: $869; Cumulative: $71,457,000


Additional specialized/limited/independent releases 

Vortex (Utopia) NEW – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: Cannes, New York 2021

$17,057 in 1  theaters; PTA: $17,057

Hatching (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$140,000 in 186 theaters; PTA: $753

Firebird (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Metacritic: 53; Festivals include: Frameline 2021

$55,310 in 90 theaters; PTA: $615

Hello, Bookstore (Greenwich) NEW

$6,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,000

Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen (Zeitgeist) NEW – Festivals include: Miami Jewish 2022

$6,218 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,218

Diva (Rialto) REISSUE

$9,300 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,300

Acharya (Prime) NEW

$(est.) 1,100,000 in 396 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 2,777

Petit Maman (Neon) Week 2

$ (est). 120,000 in 31 (+27) theaters; PTA: $3,871; Cumulative: (est.) $175,000

The Duke (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$122,607 in 57 theaters; PTA: $2,151

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Utopia) – Week 3; also on PVOD

$13,036 in 26 (-10) theaters;  Cumulative: $74,875

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