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Box Office Thrives with ‘Maverick’ and Struggles with ‘Lightyear’ as Theaters Live and Die by Blockbusters

It was a $163 million weekend, 20 percent better than 2019 — but after "Doctor Strange" at #4, theater attendance plummeted.

Lightyear

“Lightyear”

Disney/Pixar

If the future for theaters is near-total reliance on a handful of top franchise films, this weekend suggests that plan could work. It was peak playtime with Father’s Day and the first federal observance of Juneteenth and while it broke no records, these results are the best since COVID.

This weekend also contains the biggest disappointment of 2022 as Disney’s “Lightyear” grossed $51 million, falling far short of its projected minimum $70 million opening. That led to the total take of $163 million, a bit under expectations, for a weekend with three major recent releases.

For the second straight weekend, total grosses topped 2019’s equivalent — this one, by 20 percent. Combined with the past three weekends, our four-week rolling total now stands 3 percent above 2019 for the first time we’ve exceeded the prior period. It isn’t guaranteed to continue (the rest of the month likely will lag behind), but it is the single best sign of recovery seen yet.

“Lightyear” failed to open at #1, falling short of “Jurassic World: Dominion” (Universal), which dropped 60 percent to $58.6 million after opening to $145 million. That’s slightly more than the second weekend fall for the last “Jurassic,” which didn’t have the benefit of a Father’s Day.

Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) remains stellar. In its fourth weekend, it dropped only 15 percent for $44 million. That gets it to $466 million domestic, with a $600 million total or more now looking likely. It is rare to gross that much for its fourth weekend; for the #3 film to be at that level, rarer still.

“Titanic,” which never had a weekend over $40 million in 1997-98 prices, had 10 weeks over $40 million with adjusted grosses with its fourth around $55 million. Comparing “Maverick” to “Titanic,” the biggest-grossing movie in 40 years, represents the scale of Tom Cruise’s success. In its fourth weekend it surpassed what the original “Top Gun” did in 1986 (about $450 million adjusted) as the #1 film of the year. With $885 million worldwide, it will easily become the first 2022 release to surpass $1 billion — double its pre-release projections.

As for “Lightyear,” its projections appeared to overestimate the brand (Pixar and/or “Toy Story”) and underestimate the competition, the impact of Pixar’s streaming availability, the general decline in animation grosses and — though hard to quantify — resistance to Disney’s political and social issues. That would include wide publicity of a brief same-sex kiss that dominated social media news before release.

If box office depends on franchise films, any shortfall is a concern: All other releases totaled $12 million, with five of the top 10 grossing less than $1 million. The #10 film grossed $198,000; three years ago, #10 did $3.7 million.

The Black Phone

“The Black Phone”

Universal/screenshot

Next weekend brings two new original titles — “Elvis” (Warner Bros.) and “The Black Phone” (Universal). Both are anticipated to open in the range of $20 million-$30 million.

The incredible opening of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24), now at $65 million, appears to be a real anomaly; “Brian and Charles” (Focus) took 10th place in 279 theaters with a per-theater average of $711. “Brian and Charles” is one of three 2022 Park City premieres to debut this weekend, each taking a different path and none doing much for specialized theaters.

Apple paid $15 million for “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (Bleecker Street handling theaters) with the intention of streaming from the start. Its nationwide theatrical release included dates at Cinemark, Landmark, Laemmle, and Alamo Drafthouse theaters. Grosses were not reported. Spot checking individual theaters suggested a gross of perhaps $7,000 at New York’s prime Angelika Film Center and much less elsewhere.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”

YouTube

“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” the Emma Thompson comedy Searchlight acquired for a reported $7.5 million, debuted on Hulu without even a token qualifying run. Thompson was considered a viable Best Actress candidate; this is a rare case of a film with potential Oscar buzz and its distributor decided not to bother.

In the past, both “Cha Cha” and “Good Luck” would have been viewed as strong specialized titles with crossover appeal and potential grosses of $10 million or higher. With the occasional outlier like A24’s smash, those days appear to be over.

The Top 10

1. Jurassic World Dominion (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$58,660,000 (-60%) in 4,697 (+21) theaters; PTA: $12,489; Cumulative: $249,797,000

2. Lightyear (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 61; Est. budget: $200 million

$51,000,000 in 4,255 theaters; PTA: $11,986; Cumulative: $51,000,000

3. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$44,000,000 (-15%) in 4,262 (-489) theaters; PTA: $10,905; Cumulative: $466,168,000

4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #3

$4,200,000 (-19%) in 2,465 (-870) theaters; PTA: $1,704; Cumulative: $405,084,000

5. The Bob’s Burger Movie (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$1,100,000 (-55%) in 1,350  (-1,255) theaters; PTA: $815; Cumulative: $29,762,000

6. The Bad Guys (Universal) Week 9; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$980,000 (-%) in 1,494 (-1,111) theaters; PTA: $631; Cumulative: $94,239,000

7. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 13; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$959,631 (-27%) in 679 (-55) theaters; PTA: $1,413; Cumulative: $64,920,000

8. Downton Abbey (Focus) Week 5; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$830,000 (73-%) in 1,179 (-832) theaters; PTA: $704; Cumulative: $42,300,000

9. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Paramount) Week 11; Last weekend #7; also on Paramount + and PVOD

$228,392 (-70%) in 439 (-728) theaters; PTA: $520; Cumulative: $190,478,000

10. Brian and Charles (Focus) NEW – Metacritic: 62

$198,000 in 279 theaters; PTA: $711; Cumulative: $198,000

 

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Official Competition (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2021

$34,000 in theaters; PTA: $8,500

Abandoned (Vertical) NEW – Metacritic: 36

$60,000 in 54vtheaters; PTA: $1,120

Lost Illusions (Music Box) Week 2   6

$15,984 in 9 (+3) theaters; PTA: $1,776; Cumulative: $41,091

Mad God (IFC) Week 2   2

$35,000 in 26 (+24) theaters; PTA: $1,346; Cumulative: $50,313

Crimes of the Future (Neon) Week 3

$101,500 in 122 theaters; Cumulative: $2,368,000

Watcher (IFC) Week 3

$95,000 in 136 (-520) theaters; Cumulative: $1,871,000

The Phantom of the Open (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$83,198 in 97 (+73) theaters;  Cumulative: $170,769

Benediction (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$14,860 in 54 (-66) theaters; Cumulative: $178,441

Deep in the Heart (Fin & Fur) Week 3

$35,686 in 41 (-20) theaters;  Cumulative: $360,595

Poser (Oscilloscope) Week 3

$12,025 in 3 (+2); Cumulative: $29,799

Men (A24) Week 4  216

$18,887 in 68 (-148) theaters; Cumulative: $7,571,000

Family Camp (Roadside Attractions) Week 6

$9,010 in 39 -) theaters;  Cumulative: $3,920,000

The Duke (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$22,696 in 38 (-363) theaters; Cumulative: $1,486,000

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