Franchise fatigue was so last week. “Creed III” (MGM) will end up around 50 percent better than pre-weekend projection with nearly $59 million.
The ninth “Rocky” franchise film and the first without Sylvester Stallone, it’s the third in the Adonis Creed reboot and the first directed by triple-hyphenate Michael B. Jordan. It begins a critical March that will see three other sequels with strong potential debuts. If 2023 is to improve to the minimum goal of $9 billion U.S./Canada gross (still far behind pre-Covid totals), franchise titles must lead the way. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (Disney) fell below expectations, but the new “Creed” suggests that theaters can thrive beyond Marvel.
Comparisons to the first two “Creed” entries are tricky: Both opened on pre-opening Thanksgiving Wednesdays, making weekend analysis suspect even before noting that ticket prices are now considerably higher. But any threequel that posts this strong a number is impressive.
Credit in part goes to interest in a new challenger to Adonis Creed. That comes in the form of Jonathan Majors as Damian Anderson. The actor, to put it mildly, is on a roll. The actor who first gained notice with 2019 Sundance hit “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” stole the show as Kang the Conqueror in “Quantumania.” That film was #1 the past two weeks. He isn’t top-billed in either, but clearly he is a lead in both. For one person to star in two consecutive #1 titles is rare, to put it mildly. Perusing the past decade showed it last happened when “Mama” replaced “Zero Dark 30,” both with Jessica Chastain as the lead, in January 2013.
Two relevant footnotes to this opening: This is the first film released under the MGM brand (previously a producer distributed by United Artists). Films that are part of Amazon, which acquired MGM and its assets last year, will be released under this name, not the parent company.
That’s significant in that it reinforces a theatrical commitment and a continuity from what was previously handled by UA. Those included “No Time to Die” (Bond is now a domestic Amazon franchise) and “The House of Gucci,” as well as several recent awards contenders. This strategy coming from Amazon is a huge boost for the future of theaters.
“Creed III” actually opened better than “No Time to Die.” That’s getting out of the box with a bang. Next month is Ben Affleck’s “Air.” The expectation that theatrical would be a priority clearly is enhanced by the initial “Creed” performance.
Also to note: At a time when specialized box office lags at the box office, it is notable that both Jordan and Majors first got attention in indie films (“Fruitvale Station” for Jordan). It’s a reminder that for blockbusters to exist, the seeds often come from vital smaller theatrical releases.
Two other new releases made the top 10. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba — To the Swordsmith Village” (Crunchyroll), which is actually three episodes of a Japanese anime television series edited together, came in #4, just over $10 million. Lionsgate’s recent pickup of Guy Ritchie’s “Operation Fortune: Russe de Guerre,” rumored to be headed for a quick PVOD release, took seventh place with just over $3 million.
This weekend saw significant drops in last week’s leaders. “Quantumania” dropped another 61 percent after falling 70 percent its second weekend. “Cocaine Bear” (Universal) fell 53 percent after a strong debut. “Jesus Revolution” (Lionsgate) held better at #5, but still with a 46 percent drop. Best hold in the top 10 was “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) at #6, off 26 percent, now at $670 million domestic.
The challenges in getting ahead of last year, even with a strong weekend, is evident here. This weekend grossed $116 million — but that’s only 70 percent of the same 2022 weekend, which saw the release of “The Batman.” This year is still 37 percent ahead year to date, although that number will fall. The rolling four-week comparision to pre-Covid dates stands at 84 percent.
No new limited specialized releases reported grosses. The second weekend of the Oscar International Film nominee “The Quiet Girl” (Neon) expanded to 18 theaters for a modest $72,000. Several Oscar Best Picture contenders were boosted by awards promotions on major theater circuits. As usual, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24) led other than “The Way of Water,” adding another $175,000.
The 2023 edition of “Oscar Shorts” (ShortsTV) is doing well, with $370,000 in its third week, and close to $2.3 million so far. That suggests the program will get close to previous numbers.
The Top 10
1. Creed III (MGM) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 74; Est. budget: $75 million
$58,658,000 in 4,007 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,639; Cumulative: $58,658,000
2. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1
$12,471,000 (-61%) in 3,835 theaters (-520); PTA: $3,260; Cumulative: $186,799,000
3. Cocaine Bear (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$11,020,000 (-53%) in 3,571 (+37) theaters; PTA: $3,086; Cumulative: $41,288,000
4. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba — To the Swordsmith Village (Crunchyroll) NEW – Cinemascore: B+;
$10,117,000 in 1,774 theaters; PTA: $5,703; Cumulative: $10,117,000
5. Jesus Revolution (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$8,650,000 (-46%) in 2,575 (+100) theaters; PTA: $3,359; Cumulative: $30,541,000
6. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) Week 12; Last weekend #4
$3,578,000 (-26%) in 2,300 (-195) theaters; PTA: $1,556; Cumulative: $670,632,000
7. Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guere (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 51; Est. budget: $50 million
$3,160,000 in 2,168 theaters; PTA: $1,458; Cumulative: $3,160,000
8. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal) Week 11; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD
$2,720,000 (-34%) in 2,588 (-252) theaters; PTA: $1,051; Cumulative: $177,128,000
9. Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WBD) Week 4; Last weekend #6
$1,180,000 (-59%) in 1,737 (-1,181) theaters; PTA: $679; Cumulative: $25,363,000
10. 80 for Brady (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #8
$845,000 (-56%) in 1,495 (-902) theaters; PTA: $565; Cumulative: $38,818,000
Other Specialized titles
Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first two weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are tracked.
The Quiet Girl (Neon) Week 2
$72,000 in 18 (+12) theaters; PTA: $4,000; Cumulative: $148,758
Path of the Panther (Wildpath/Grizzly Peak) Week 2 47
$16,735 in 28 (-19) theaters; PTA: $598; Cumulative: $101,377
Selfiee (Disney) Week 2
$55,000 in 308 (no change) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $315,499
2023 Oscar Shorts (Shorts TV) Week 3
$370,000 in 250 (-60) theaters; Cumulative: $2,271,000
Return to Seoul (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$91,911 in 38 (+27) theaters; Cumulative: $212,415
Emily (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$194,287 in 565 (-14) theaters; Cumulative: $887,453
Close (A24) Week 6 233
$52,180 in 153 (-80) theaters; Cumulative: $1,001,000
Living (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11
$127,479 in 348 (+212) theaters; Cumulative: $2,784,000
The Whale (A24) Week 13; also on PVOD
$62,962 in 165 (-46) theaters; Cumulative: $16,895,000
The Fabelmans (Universal) Week 17; also on VOD
$30,000 in 591 (+275) theaters; Cumulative: $17,223,000
The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight) Week 20; also on HBO Max and VOD
$36,000 in 270 (+35) theaters; Cumulative: $10,478,000
Aftersun (A24) Week 21; also on VOD
$12,835 in 14 (-1) theaters; Cumulative: $1,629,000
TAR (Focus) Week 22; also on VOD
$52,000 in 444 (+208) theaters; Cumulative: $6,680,000
RRR (Variance) Week 40; also on VOD and Netflix
$191,000 on 283; Cumulative: $15,090,000
Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 50; also on PVOD
$175,039 in 636 (+327) theaters; Cumulative: $73,265,000
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