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‘Bullet Train’ #1 for Second Week at Box Office: Why That’s Not Great News

The Brad Pitt movie dropped 55 percent: With no new big movies to drive audiences, they weren't excited by the holdovers.

Bullet Train, Brad Pitt

“Bullet Train”

If you don’t build it, they won’t come. With no new major titles this week, audiences chose to stay home this weekend — and for the next two months, that could be our new normal. “Bullet Train” (Sony) dropped 55 percent in its second week, but led the top 10 with a gross of $13.4 million — the lowest figure for a #1 film in over six months. Similarly, the $65 million weekend total for all films is the worst showing since early February.

Over the last four months, when studios release major films theaters respond with encouraging results — sometime spectacular, in the case of “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount). Five films passed $300 million domestic, similar to 2019 (although today’s higher ticket prices made it easier).

Grosses for the year to date are about two thirds of 2019 through the same date, but that result could prove to be the high water mark for some time — and that’s still not close to what theaters need to return to something like normalcy.

August gets a bad rap as a lame month for releasing movies, which isn’t true. Nearly every year, the second week of August sees at least one film opening to over $15 million. In 2013, “Elysium,” “We’re the Millers,” and “Planes” debuted between $22 million-$30 million (and ticket prices were about one third lower than they are today). “Straight Outta Compton” opened to $60 million, “The Meg” $45 million.

This weekend was the exception that proved the rule: There were no new wide releases. The lack of new films is the result of production lags during Covid and studios releaseing their top titles during the prime summer months, but this weekend came in at 48 percent of the same date in 2019. The ongoing four-week rolling total has declined to 55 percent compared to three years ago. Again, that’s its lowest level since February.

A strong August needed “Bullet Train” on a trajectory to surpass $100 million by some distance. Instead, its performance is adequate; it has a shot at  $90 million. The month also required some overachievers; so far, that hasn’t happened either. “Easter Sunday” (Universal) was one hope, but its second weekend placed it outside the top 10 with $2.4 million.

A24 has been a reliable source for sleeper hits. Its horror comedy “Bodies Bodies Bodies” came in #8 with $3.25 million its second weekend expanding to 1,275 theaters. It will add hundreds more with the potential for positive results, but it’s not a gamechanger. “Fall” was Lionsgate’s first release in months and genre titles are a frequent source of the company’s success. With a $2.5 million opening, this low-budget thriller might be profitable but won’t do much to move the needle in a soft month.

Bodies Bodies Bodies

“Bodies Bodies Bodies”

A24

This summer has seen strong holds; on most weeks, many holdover titles fall less than 30 percent. That didn’t happen this weekend; only “Top Gun: Maverick” avoided that fate. In fact, it added 421 theaters and grossed $7.15 million, up two percent from last weekend. All other holdovers dropped more than 30 percent, despite the lack of fresh films.

It will take Monday’s numbers to confirm whether”Maverick” or “DC League of Super-Pets” is #2 (Warners claims the slot for now by $20,000), but either way “Maverick” shows that people flock to what they want, and sometimes more than once. The Tom Cruise movie now should easily hit $700 million domestic, with the potential of many millions more.

Two new releases and one reissue also amassed over $1 million. “Laal Singh Chaddha” (Paramount), an Indian remake of “Forrest Gump,” grossed $1.47 million in 516 theaters — on par with “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (Universal), which had an impressive rerelease for $1.07 million in 389. “Mack & Rita” (Gravitas Ventures) with Diane Keaton showed little appeal with $1.1 million in 1,930 theaters.

Emily the Criminal, Aubrey Plaza

“Emily the Criminal”

screenshot

Among other specialized titles, “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions), a well-received Sundance thriller with Audrey Plaza, managed $669,000 in 473 theaters. “Summering” (Bleecker Street), another Sundance-premiered title from James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”) though was a more typical example of the plight of similar specialized releases. It could only corral $31,317 in 260 theaters.

The Top 10

1. Bullet Train (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$13,400,000 (-55%) in 4,357 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $3,076; Cumulative: $54,482,000

2. DC League of Super-Pets (WBD) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$7,170,000 (-35%) in 3,803 (-539)  theaters; PTA: $1,885; Cumulative: $58,347,000

3. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 12; Last weekend #6

$7,150,000 (+2%) in 3,181 (+421) theaters; PTA: $2,248; Cumulative: $673,822,000

4. Nope (Universal)  Week 4; Last weekend #3

$5,300,000 (-38%) in 2,760 (-274) theaters; PTA: $1,920; Cumulative: $107,516,000

5. Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #4

$5,251,000 (-31%) in 3,1,75 (-225) theaters; PTA: $1,673; Cumulative: $325,395,000

6. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) Week 7; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$4,900,000 (-31%) in 3,068 (-50) theaters; PTA: $1,597; Cumulative: $343,710,000

7. Where the Crawdads Sing (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #7

$4,000,000 (-30%) in 2,916 (-248) theaters; PTA: $1,372; Cumulative: $72,149,000

8. Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #15

$3,251,000 (+1,334%) in 1,275 (+1,269) theaters; PTA: $2,530; Cumulative: $3,577,000

9. Elvis (WBD) Week 7; Last weekend #7

$2,585,000 (-34%) in 2,411 (-490) theaters; PTA: $1,169; Cumulative: $141,291,000

10. Fall (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 57

$2,505,000 in 1,548 theaters; PTA: $1,618; Cumulative: $2,505,000

 

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Laal Singh Chaddha (Paramount) NEW – Metacritic: 46

$1,470,000 in 516 theaters; PTA: $2,849

Emily the Criminal (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$668,990 in 473 theaters; PTA: $1,414

Mack and Rita (Gravitas Ventures) NEW – Metacritic: 48

$1,095,000 in 2,000 theaters; PTA: $567

Summering (Bleecker Street)  NEW – Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$31,317 in 260 theaters; PTA: $120

Inu-Oh (GKids) NEW – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2021

$190,524 in 350 theaters; PTA: $544

Claydream (Oscilloscope) Week 2

$10,450 in 4 theaters; PTA: $2,613

Vengeance (Focus) Week 3

$216,000 in 431 (-572) theaters; Cumulative: $3,880,000

A Love Song (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$23,701 in  34 (+16) theaters;  Cumulative: $77,383

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Focus) Week 5; also on PVOD

$324,000 in 573 (-96) theaters; Cumulative: $8,810,000

Fire of Love (Neon) Week 6

$36,130 in 54 (-89) theaters; Cumulative: $815,116

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$58,605 in 113 (-55) theaters; Cumulative: $647,026

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (A24) Week 8

$163,645 in 276 theaters (-222); Cumulative: $5,354,000

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 19; also on PVOD

$54,149 in 111 (-236) theaters; Cumulative: $69,669,000

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