This Weekend, the Box Office Was Terrible. It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better.

"The Invitation" was #1 at the box office this weekend with $7 million.
"The Invitation"
"The Invitation"
Sony Pictures Releasing

By any measure, this was a flat-out no-good, very bad, horrible box-office weekend. This weekend’s #1 film “The Invitation” (Sony), grossed just $7 million. On the same weekend in 2019, it would have placed #7. Even a year ago, when theaters were considered to be still in recovery mode, it would have been #3. In 2021 the #1 film was “Candyman” —  a horror film like “The Invitation,” but it opened to $22 million.

It’s easy to blame studios for not releasing more movies to fill the void, but the reality isn’t that simple. Covid upended production schedules, an increased reliance on special effects led to a massive production backlog, and the capacity for theaters to deliver grosses commensurate with 2019 or earlier isn’t there. When major releases demand a minimum of $30 million in marketing, studios lose incentive for theatrical releases.

Had United Artists shifted its release of George Miller’s Cannes competition film “Three Thousand Years of Longing” to streaming (as it did with “Samaritan,” the Sylvester Stallone title that debuted on Amazon), it would have been excoriated for theatrical malpractice. It’s not a success with a $2,876,000 opening in wide release, but the fantasy romance with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton seemed doomed from the start; an adult-aimed story that’s tough to describe, it received mixed reviews. With a $60 million budget, that’s deadly — and as damaging to theaters as not having played at all.

Domestic theaters managed about $52 million this weekend, possibly a low in this century (before 2020) in actual dollars, and certainly the fewest tickets sold for much longer. Again, lack of product is the biggest reason — given strong titles, theaters perform. However, a fickle public no longer is in a mood to default to whatever is the new release.

The weekend total came to 48 percent of 2019’s result, with the rolling four-week average to 55 percent. It will get worse before it gets better.

Among holdovers, last week’s two new entries both fell substantially. Universal’s “The Beast” did better, off 58 percent to place third. Last week’s #1 “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” (Crunchyroll) dropped to fifth with a 78 percent fall. Still, its $30 million total is found money for theaters.

“Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) again held best, down 20 percent. That came with its PVOD play (but not streaming) availability, consistent with this platform has minimal impact on theater attendance.

Specialized films received minimal response this weekend. Bleecker Street had 902 theaters for “Breaking,” a Sundance-premiered drama starring John Boyega and the late Michael K. WIlliams about a military vet’s return to civilian life; it managed  a little over $1 million. That’s a better PTA than some recent wide specialized releases, but not a strong result despite minimal competition.

Cohen Releasing made a strong marketing effort with “The Good Boss,” a Spanish film starring Javier Bardem. In 13 theaters with several markets beyond New York and Los Angeles, it took in under $27,000, only $2,000 per theater. Multiple other new releases, including A24’s “Funny Pages,” didn’t report results.


The Top 10

1. The Invitation (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 47; Est. budget: $10 million

$7,000,000 in 3,114 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $2,248; Cumulative: $7,000,000

2. Bullet Train (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$5,600,000 (-30%) in 3,513 theaters (-268); PTA: $1,594; Cumulative: $78,206,000

3. Beast (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$4,900,000 (-58%)  in 3,754 (+11) theaters; PTA: $1,305; Cumulative: $20,091,000

4. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 14; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD

$4,750,000 (-20%) in 2,962 (-7) theaters; PTA: $1,604; Cumulative: $691,213,000

5. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Crunchyroll) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$4,565,000 (-78%) in 2,941 (-77) theaters; PTA: $1,533; Cumulative: $30,762,000

6. DC League of Super-Pets (WBD) Week 5; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$4,225,000 (-26%) in 3,284 (-253)  theaters; PTA: $1,287; Cumulative: $74,089,000

7. Three Thousand Years of Longing (United Artists) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 60; Est. budget: $60 million

$2,876,000 in 2,436 theaters; PTA: $1,181; Cumulative: $2,876,000

8. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) Week 9; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD

$2,740,000 (-26%) in 2,494 (-160) theaters; PTA: $1,099; Cumulative: $354,781,000

9. Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #6

$2,700,000 (-34%) in 2,450 (-305) theaters; PTA: $1,102; Cumulative: $336,570,000

10. Where the Crawdads Sing (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #8

$2,325,000 (-27%) in 2,216 (-392) theaters; PTA: $1,049; Cumulative: $81,888,000


Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Breaking (Bleecker Street) NEW – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$1,023,000 in 902 theaters; PTA: $1,181

The Good Boss (Cohen) NEW – Metacritic: 63; Festivals include: San Sebastian 2021

$26,627 in 13 theaters; PTA: $2,048

Orphan: First Kill (Paramount) Week 2; also on PVOD and Paramount Plus

$915,043 in 557 (+59) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $3,324,000

The Territory (Picturehouse) Week 2

$43,100 in 115 theaters (+108); PTA: $; Cumulative: $(est.) 83,000

Laal Singh Chaddha (Paramount) Week 3

$159,740 in 159 (-358)  theaters;  Cumulative: $3,336,000

Emily the Criminal (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$139,840 in 213  (-270)  theaters; Cumulative: $1,802,000

Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) Week 4

$1,069,000 in 2,042 (-499) theaters;  Cumulative: $9,726,000

A Love Song (Bleecker Street) Week 5

$18,974 in 69 (-38) theaters;  Cumulative: $211,546

Fire of Love (Neon) Week 7

$24,051 in 53 (-14) theaters; Cumulative: $981,102

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$42,000 in 92 (-9) theaters; Cumulative: $852,488

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (A24) Week 10

$103,825 in 169 theaters (-33); Cumulative: $5,870,000

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 20; also on PVOD

$24,639 in 39 (-33) theaters; Cumulative: $69,819,000

Funny Pages (A24)  NEW – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Cannes 2022

Out of the Blue (Quiver) NEW – Metacritic: 39; Also on VOD

Alienoid (Well Go) NEW – Metacritic: 57; Festivals include: New York Asian

Let the Little Light Shine (Argot) NEW – Festivals include: True False 2022

Private Desert (Kino Lorber) NEW – Metacritic; Festivals include: Venice 2021


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