It was going to happen. All it would take was the right weekend with a lowering tide of audience attendance to the big studio fare. The writing has been on the wall for a couple years now that the anime fans were going to have their moment. It almost happened last year right as the pandemic fog began to clear with an assist from a rebooted franchise going day-and-date streaming on the same weekend. This week, there was no fog, and unless there was going to be a mad rush to a killer lion movie, a Super Hero would rise. And it did.
That’s right. This weekend the top spot at the box office does not belong to Idris Elba punching a lion or Brad Pitt punching everyone on a train. Crunchyroll’s Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero took it handily in the company’s largest release strategy to date in 3,130 theaters. Why not? Just last year Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train opened in 1,600 theaters and grossed $21.2 million in its opening weekend against Warner Bros.’ new Mortal Kombat. While Dragon Ball barely missed besting that film head-to-head (MK opened to $23.3 million), the latter also ultimately outgrossed the former by over $7 million, finishing with $49.5 million. Just two years prior, before the pandemic, we saw Dragon Ball Super: Broly open to $9.8 million in 1,238 theaters and finish with over $30 million, showing that these films were not just opening weekend wonders for a handful of die-hards. The My Hero Academia films were not nearly as popular, opening between $2-3.1 million, but Crunchyroll clearly saw a spot to nab headlines: If the fans would just come out towards the end of summer as studios began to clear their plates before the autumn season, they could have a No. 1 film. Well, the fans did come out, and they spent $20.1 million on Super Hero this weekend, and second place wasn’t even close.
First there was Lions for Lambs. Now there is Cujo for lions. Beast, the new film from Contraband and Everest director Baltasar Kormákur, opened to nearly half of Dragon Ball Super Hero with just $11.5 million this weekend. On this same weekend in August, we have seen Snakes on a Plane ($13.8 million), Piranha in 3-D ($10.1 million), and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged ($8.4 million) so that number feels about right. This also happens to be the weekend of horror classics An American Werewolf in London and David Cronenberg’s The Fly, which, with inflation, translate to roughly $24.7 and $18.9 million in opening ticket sales. But a final hunt of $28-38 million domestically for the $36 million-budgeted Beast is not going to feel great for Universal.
Bullet Train, which held on to the top spot for the past two weeks, fell back to third this weekend with $8 million. 40% was the largest drop in the top 10 this week. Are people still holding onto $100 million as a possibility? Well, two of the three August releases to earn between $68-69 million after 17 days made it. Freaky Friday got to $110.2 million in 20023 and The 40 Year-Old Virgin reached $109.4 million in 2005. Only Sony’s Elysium came up short with $93 million. Unforgiven and Parenthood are the only films to earn less than $67 million in that time frame and still reach $100 million, and the Eastwood film took a lengthy Oscar-run to achieve that. Bullet Train did not have the third weekend that either Freaky Friday ($9.3 million) or The 40 Year-Old Virgin ($13.3 million) had. In fact, it was closer to Elysium’s $6.9 million. Bullet Train’s August doppelganger, The Dukes of Hazzard, got to $69 million after it made $5.9 million in its third weekend, so David Leitch’s film is now outpacing it. $90-95 million seems very realistic, but $100 million is still a reach. The $90 million-budgeted film is over $130 million worldwide.
DC League of Super-Pets is also not going to reach $100 million, as Warner Bros. should have expected when they released an animated film this late in the summer. Another $5.7 million this weekend brings its total to $67.4 million. Planes had $70.8 million after 24 days and posted a $7.7 million fourth weekend. The Super-Pets landing zone continues to appear to be somewhere between $75 million and $80 million. Top Gun: Maverick, meanwhile, continues its run towards $700 million. Black Panther was down to $2.07 million in its 13th weekend with a total of $696.3 million. Maverick is now at $683.3 million after making another $5.8 million. The film is going to be part of this column at least through the first four weekends of September, and at some point, we expect to write about it crossing that milestone. It is now the sixth highest-grossing film of all time domestically, passing Avengers: Infinity War.
Thor: Love and Thunder brought its total up to $331.8 million. Next weekend it will pass Spider-Man: Homecoming to become the 13th highest-grossing domestic film in the MCU, and that is where it will settle for now. Minions: The Rise of Gru will pass $350 million on Monday. In its eighth week, it is just $3.5 million behind where The Secret Life of Pets was and made about $600,000 more than Pets did the same weekend. It still has a shot to become Illumination’s highest-grossing film, but the likelihood of that continues to drop. The bigger deal is the jolt it has provided to the family market, with a total that may not be replicated with all the remaining films aimed at them this year. It has grossed over $850 million globally.
Jordan Peele’s Nope only opened overseas last week and still needs some help there to recoup its $68 million budget. As of this weekend it is approaching $114 million domestically and still aligning itself with Luc Besson’s Lucy, so look for its final haul to be around $126 million. It has made $6.4 million internationally to add to that. Another $30 million or so should get it out of the red. Where the Crawdads Sing earned another $3 million and is going to get itself over $80 million by next weekend. A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies is not lighting up the box office, but it did only drop 26% this weekend to $2.4 million after nearly doubling its theater count to 2,541. That brought its total to $7.3 million overall. Orphan: First Kill, which is also streaming on Paramount Plus, is playing in 498 theaters around the country, and it grossed a respectable $1.6 million for a per-theater average of $3,212, which is higher than any PTA in the top 10 aside from Dragon Ball.
Next week a variety of films will be vying for the scraps of the late August marketplace. George Miller’s long-awaited follow-up to Mad Max: Fury Road, Three Thousand Years of Longing, with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, opens from United Artists Releasing. Sony is trying their hand with a Bride of Dracula-like bit of horror called The Invitation with Nathalie Emmanuel that will not be screening for critics. Bleecker Street has John Boyega in a Sundance true tale of veteran neglect and a bank robbery in Breaking. How far will Dragon Ball Super Hero drop next week? Will it only take eight digits to grab the top spot? Will any of these film gross more than Top Gun: Maverick? Tune in next week.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Crunchyroll