Updated, Sunday AM writethru after Saturday AM update: The wearing down of the MCU luster is unfortunately being seen, as Disney’s Thor: Love and Thunder is having a great fall, with a -68% drop for a second weekend to $46M. And the sequel isn’t even theatrical day-and-date like Black Widow was last year on Disney+. While the Taika Waititi-directed movie improved beyond its high $130M opening estimates last weekend into the $144M range, it’s clear those sour audience exits of a B+ CinemaScore and 3 1/2 stars are taking their toll.
Thor‘s second weekend drop ranks among the MCU’s worst, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (-67%) and Black Widow (-68%). Forget about Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s -68% second drop. That’s largely due to Christmas falling on a Saturday, and everyone knows that Sony/MCU title was making money hand over fist on a daily basis. It’s an outlier.
Worldwide, Disney has a different brag on Thor: Love and Thunder and that’s that that the superhero is about to cross the half billion mark worldwide. Domestic stands at $233.2M, global at $498M. The pic’s Imax screens stateside at 412 posted $3.7M this weekend for a running total of $20.5M.
Marvel is getting beaten this summer by a Tom Cruise movie, granted a long-awaited sequel by his fans, with Top Gun: Maverick hitting $617.9M by EOD today. The erosion here in MCU box office bucks and audience exits is a rich man’s problem for the studio. Again, is the dilution of results because they’re stretched thin between the development of streaming series and movies?
Anecdotally, Thor 4 is quite a fun ride, and if you see it in Screen X, it’s mind-blowing. It’s a fast clip at 1 hour and 58 minutes, and not as Byzantine as Doctor Strange 2 and Eternals. But clearly, something isn’t resonating with fans. I’ve been told by sources that they and critics obviously don’t think it’s as good as Ragnarok. That pic, despite having a lower opening than Thor 4 at $122.7M, possessed a higher-grossing second weekend with $57M. And that was during November, not summer.
Meanwhile, Sony/3000 Pictures/Hello Sunshine’s feature take of the Delia Owens novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is coming in ahead of its $9M-$10M projections with $17M in 3rd. A good win here for a $24 million production before P&A, and ahead of other female-skewing novels on screen during the pre-pandemic, i.e. Crawdads. The new film is ahead of the openings of 2004’s The Notebook ($13.4M), the 2015 adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride ($13M), and John Green’s Paper Towns ($12.6M).
Crawdads is another example this summer of a harshly reviewed movie beating its projections. Critics piled on Crawdads at 37% rotten, and here’s the pic’s opening, 70% ahead of where tracking thought it would be. That’s a wonderful thing for the business when Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t ruin a movie’s ticket sales.
However, being the mega-bestseller that Crawdads was, it’s not a Dear John ($30M) or a Fault in Our Stars ($48M), which truly ignited the female demographic to come out. The question remains how frontloaded Crawdads is and whether it legs out off its great scores. There is nothing like it for female audiences in the coming months. Backing out $2.3M previews, Friday actually made $5M, and Saturday was slightly up at 8% from that with $5.4M
The 74% skewing female movie is winning over its core audience in its big screen treatment, with 4 1/2 stars, 87% positive, 70% recommend on PostTrak, and an A- CinemaScore. Those fans who showed up clearly didn’t read reviews, as critics weren’t won over by the 35% Rotten.
Social media monitor RelishMix noticed that the pre-release social chatter “spun around the book, as savvy fans wonder how the movie would play with the compression of the story into a two-hour film — and the tone of the trailer in relation to how they experienced the ‘lyrical, and haunting, but oddly peaceful story’ of the novel. The added layer of the Taylor Swift soundtrack, which was released two weeks ago, is also as a fresh element for fans, too.”
Of those attending, PostTrak showed that 32% came with someone who wanted to see it, while 30% were there because they were fans of the book.
Hence, those audience exits are quite promising. Had fans of the book been truly upset, Crawdads would be in freefall at the box office. Crawdad‘s social media awareness levels are running in line with drama thriller norms at 156.5M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. “However, the bonus factor feeding activity on the project is soundtrack artist Taylor Swift, with her social network of 431.3M fans, including her YouTube channel at 46.8M subs — plus producer Reese Witherspoon at 34.8M fans — at a social grand total of 587.8M,” reports RelishMix.
Fifty-five percent of Crawdads‘ ticket buyers are women over 25. The overall audience was 40% between 18-34, but still an amazing 41% over 45. Box office firm EntTelligence shows that 8% of the audience came after 8PM to see Crawdads, indicating how older-leaning the pic is. Diversity demos were 71% Caucasian, 17% Latino and Hispanic, 4% Black, & 8% Asian/other. Crawdads crooned the loudest in the South and Midwest, where nine out of the top ten grossing theaters were. Pic’s best markets included Dallas, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Denver, Tampa, Nashville, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Austin, cities which largely aren’t among the highest-grossing in a given weekend. There were only four New York and LA runs were in the top 100; none in Crawdad‘s top ten, with NYC Lincoln Square charting at No. 11 through Friday and LA’s The Grove at No. 20.
Key marketing stunts for Crawdads included the launch of Taylor Swift’s lyric video for “Carolina” across her and the pic’s social handles, reaching over a half-billion followers. Sony also launched an Influencer Compilation with TikTok Creators with a combined reach of 40M followers to further engage fans on social.
Additionally, there was the amplified lyric video with a Swift Vevo Custom Artist Takeover, owning all the pre-roll video across all her music catalogue, and tapped into local iHeart DJ influencers to surround the song with chatter about Crawdads.
RelishMix measured that Swift counts over 356M fans with producer Witherspoon at close to 35M, and lead star Daisy Edgar-Jones at 1.3M.
Sony teamed with Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine & Reese’s Book Club to create a bounty of behind-the-scenes digital ads and social content, including a TikTok Live with talent and filmmakers. Reese’s Book Club promoted the film across their site, social, and their popular book club app, and the studio worked with Hello Sunshine for a word-of-mouth screening program in 26 cities.
Sony also collaborated with the creators of BookTok (62 Billion Views on TikTok) and he Bookstagram community throughout the course of the campaign with trailer reactions, Crawdads-inspired BookNooks, and TikTok trends.
Also, the studio worked with ABC and Bachelor fan favorites Ashley Iaconetti & Jason Haibon to create a custom toss and special look at the film ,which aired in the premiere episode of The Bachelorette, and was touted across top social platforms.
On the downside, Paramount’s animated feature Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank isn’t punching with a $6.25M opening. If you want to know where families want to spend their money, it’s on the third weekend of Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: Rise of Gru, which is racking up $26M in second place, -44%, for a running total of $262.5M.
Why is Paws of Fury in a crowded summer market? And not later in the fall, which is starving for product? Paramount, nor others in the industry, were not expecting Rise of Gru to overpower this much. A two-week space in regards to opening felt safe. Paws of Fury was on this release date before Warner Bros. decided to push Black Adam, originally at the end of this month, and replace it with DC League of Super-Pets, which is tracking to do around $30M. Originally, the thinking was that Paws of Fury, before Super-Pets’ dating, would have the rest of the summer.
Withering down the appeal of Paws of Fury is the fact that it feels, in an animal martial arts movie, too similar to Kung-Fu Panda (despite the fact that Paws is set in Japan and the former franchise in China). There’s the notion that we’ve seen this film before.
Nonetheless, the new credo moving forward in the motion picture industry that’s chained at the hip to a streaming afterlife is that it’s better to bomb with a film on the big screen, rather than send it straight to streaming. The mere fact that Paws of Fury gets a big theatrical release raises its patina and distinguishes the title greatly in the home aftermarket and beyond, versus if Paramount just dropped this on Paramount+.
That said, the irony is that Paw Patrol and Clifford, which were theatrical day-and-date on Paramount+, respectively opened to bigger numbers at $13.1M and $16.6M, but keep in mind they are big branded movies; Paws of Fury is original, which makes it a harder sell. The notion is that had Clifford an Paw Patrol went full on theatrical, they would have grossed significantly more.
Those families who spent their money on Paws of Fury and were polled by CinemaScore didn’t feel it was a waste of time giving the animated movie an A-. PostTrak was significantly harsher, with general audiences slamming it with a 66% positive and 49% recommend, while kids under 12 enjoyed it enough at 80% positive. Dad-leaning turnout at 51% guys, with 36% under 17 and a diversity spread of 40% Caucasian, 26% Latino and Hispanic, 18% Black, & 16% Asian/other. Paws of Fury was most prominent in the West and Southwest.
Focus Features booked the eOne financed Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris at 980 theaters, and it’s grossing $1.9M for the weekend, in 9th place with a $1,77K per theater. Well-reviewed movie at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 70% women turning up, and a very notable 39% over 55, with 87% over 25. The movie is doing best on the coasts, I hear, but not so great in other places. Between Top Gun 2 and Crawdads, returning older female moviegoers during the pandemic have many options. Diversity demos were 65% Caucasian, 14% Latino and Hispanic, 13% Asian/other, and 8% Black.
Netflix/AGBO’s Ryan Gosling/Chris Evans/Ana de Armas spy film Gray Man, which is getting a promotional one-week theatrical play near 400 locations, is coming up significantly short in ticket sales next to Red Notice. That Dwayne Johnson-Gal Gadot-Ryan Reynolds action heist film chalked up between $1.25M-$1.5M in its opening weekend at 750 locations.
This was during a fall when the box office was beginning to get back on its feet, and more auditoriums were available because we didn’t have as many blockbusters around then as we do now. Gray Man is estimated to be doing just under $200K, according to distribution sources. Again, the streamer doesn’t care, nor do they report figures. It’s all about maintaining subscribers and possibly adding new ones after this $200M+ investment hits the service on Friday. Even though this movie is at 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, ya gotta think if it was a wide theatrical release, it would be raining an additional $10M-$20M in box office cash on exhibition. They’d gladly take it.
The overall weekend box office, the 28th this year, looks to clock an estimated $130.2M from all titles. Next to weekend 28 in 2019, that’s +3%. Very good.
Chart updated with Sunday numbers:
1.) Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) 4,375 theaters, Fri. $13.8M (-80%), Sat $18.4M, Sun $13.8M, 3-day $46M (-68%)/Total $233.27M /Wk 2
2.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 4,111 theaters (-316), Fri $8.1M (-44%), Sat $10.1M, Sun $7.69M, 3-day $26M (-44%), Total: $262.5M/Wk 3
3.) Where the Crawdads Sings (Sony) 3,650 theaters, Fri $7.3M, Sat $5.4M, Sun $4.3M, 3-day $17M/Wk 1
4.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 3,292 (-221) theaters, Fri $3.4M (-24%), Sat $4.89M, Sun $3.7M, 3-day $12M (-23%), Total $617.96M/Wk 8
The older 40 crowd keeps on comin’: Anecdotally, the Simi Valley Studio Grill’s 7:45pm show in SoCal was packed on Friday night.
5.) Elvis (WB) 3,305 (-409) theaters, Fri $2.3M (-31%), Sat $3M, Sun $2.27M, 3-day $7.6M (-32%) Total $106.2M/Wk 4
6.) Paw of Fury (Par) 3,475 theaters, Fri $2.4M, Sat $2.1M, Sun $1.75M, 3-day $6.25M/Wk 1
7.) The Black Phone (Uni) 2,271 (-288) theaters, Fri $1.6M (-32%), Sat $2.1M, Sun $1.58M, 3-day $5.3M (-32%)/Total $72M/Wk 4
8.) Jurassic World Dominion (Uni) 2,647 (-604) theaters, Fri $1.4M (-43%), Sat $2M , Sun $1.4M, 3-day $4.95M (-42%), Total $359.7M/Wk 6
9.) Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Foc) 980 theatres, Fri $700K, Sat $680K, Sun $520K 3-day $1.9M/Wk 1
10.) Lightyear (Dis) 1,350 (-740) theaters, Fri $395K (-58%), Sat $538K, Sun $367K, 3-day $1.3M (-58%), Total $115.4M/Wk 5
11.) Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (A24) 153 theaters (+105), Fri $176,5K (+73%), Sat $221,4K, Sun $177,1K, 3-day $575,3K (+72%), Total $1.695M/Wk 4
Previous, Friday AM: Sony/3000 Pictures/Hello Sunshine’s Where the Crawdads Sing is off to a great start in the pandemic, particularly for a female-skewing property, with $2.3M off Thursday showtimes that began at 3 p.m. in 3,150 theaters.
Again, previews aren’t always a perfect science for smaller movies at the box office, especially during Covid, but it’s interesting to note that the film came in not too far under the $2.5M that the Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum romantic comedy adventure The Lost City made on its Thursday night in 3,400 theaters off 4 p.m. showtimes back in March. That movie opened to $30.4M in the wake of a hot premiere at SXSW. Although it pulled in 61% women, Lost City was broader skewing in its appeal than Crawdads here, which was projected earlier in the week to make $9M-$10M. We’ll see if those numbers go up.
Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder is expected to win the weekend again with $50M in its second go-round.
Where the Crawdads Sing’s Thursday night audience loved it with a 93% positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4.5-star PostTrak exit.
Another testament to the popularity of Where the Crawdads Sings among its readers: The pic based on the Delia Owens book is blowing away several previews for movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ books, i.e. The Choice ($290K in 2016) and The Longest Ride ($625K in 2015). It’s proof, at least as of Thursday night, that the younger female demo hasn’t had a movie directly targeted at them for a while. As of January, Where the Crawdads Sing had sold more 12M copies.
Meanwhile, Paramount’s animated movie Paws of Fury didn’t see a robust start, with only $505K off showtimes that began at 3PM at 2,650 locations. The pic opens today at 3,475 locations and is only expected to gross around $10M. Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys saw $1.15M in previews before a $23.95M opening in April, but that was at a time when there wasn’t an abundance of family fare on the marquee. Lots of competition here: We got Thor: Love and Thunder in theaters, which did around $8.2M Thursday, -7% from Wednesday for a $187.1M running total. Then there’s Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: Rise of Gru, which is still flexing its muscle with $5.4M Thursday, -11% from Wednesday, for a $236.5M total in Week 2.
In third was Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, which did $1.9M, -6% from Wednesday for a $605.7M running total at the end of Week 7. It passed Transformers: Age of Extinction on Thursday to become Paramount’s top-grossing film of all time, with $1.2 billion worldwide.
Warner Bros.’ Elvis did $1.58M on Thursday, -12% sending its total in Week 3 to $98.5M.
Universal/Blumhouse’s The Black Phone earned $919K in its third Thursday for a running total of $66.7M.
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