It really is quite amazing that studios have still not gotten the memo, or even looked at the numbers, which quite clearly show that late-season animated films are not prone to hitting the headline-grabbing figures they seek, specifically from the last week of July to the weekend past Labor Day. Maybe it would surprise even you that the only animated film to gross $100 million in that period was The Simpsons Movie, and that was rated PG-13. The second-highest grossing animated film in that realm was the R-rated Sausage Party. So the number of family-oriented animation to reach nine digits is actually zero. Nevertheless, Warner Bros. gave it another shot this weekend and, well, the result may speak for itself.
The DC League of Super-Pets got an assist from Nope dropping 57% so it could take the top spot this weekend, but its $23 million start is going to need some serious legs to break new ticket ground for animation. The Emoji Movie opened in this same slot five years ago to $24.5 million. The Emoji Movie! Even that film, with a solid 3.5 multiple over its start, could not get much further than $86 million. Plus, that film was only budgeted at $50 million, while the Super-Pets is listed at $90 million. That is how much Disney’s Planes made back in 2013, opening in the second week of August, and it still holds the title of the highest-grossing animated film between openers at the end of July to the second week of September. Write that down, studios. Especially Warner Bros., who has watched countless disappointments like Teen Titans Go To The Movies, The Ant Bully, and The Iron Giant flail in this section of the year. League of Super-Pets is going to outgross all of those by next weekend, but right now, the family market is all about Minions, hedgehogs, and singing animals.
It is a real shame that B.J. Novak’s Vengeance isn’t getting the full push it deserves. Released in only 998 theaters this weekend, the Blumhouse-produced comic mystery was initially announced in some circles as a new horror film with the star and writer of The Office. Alas, the comedy with a 77% approval from critics grossed just $1.75 million, less than Focus Features’ Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris ($1.9 million) a few weeks back and a lower per-theater-average ($1,603) than Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter ($1,792) last year — by no means historic, but certainly disappointing. Hopefully it will find an audience when it goes to video on demand in a few weeks.
Jordan Peele’s Nope indeed fell back to second place this weekend with $18.6 million. It is now the 23rd film to open over $44 million and fall back below $20 million. Among July releases, this puts the film closest on track to Luc Besson’s Lucy, which had $79.5 million in the bank after 10 days and an $18.2 million second weekend. Peele’s film is at $80.6 million (just shy of what The Black Phone has impressively amassed since June 24 on a budget $50 million lower) so as long as word of mouth doesn’t sink next week – or people don’t abandon the film for Brad Pitt – Nope should at least touch down somewhere around $125-130 million. That’s not Get Out or Us money, and the budget on Nope is more than 2.5 times those films’ combined cost, but three original horror films out of the gate grossing over $475 million domestic between them? You have to tip your hat. And if Nope stays above $10 million next week, the total should be even higher.
Thor: Love and Thunder hit its expected milestone this weekend, becoming the 48th film to gross $300 million in its first 24 days. Its fourth weekend was almost identical ($13.1 million) to that of Spider-Man: Homecoming ($13.2 million), which finished with $334.2 million. But it’s also $23 million ahead of that film’s pace, so a cut above $350 million is still not out of the cards. Minions: The Rise of Gru came up less than $2 million of hitting that same milestone last week but made $10.9 million in its fifth weekend, driving its total to over $320 million. For those keeping track, that’s the 45th best total after a full 31 days of release, and it is lining up nicely with The Secret Life of Pets numbers.
If Minions continues to stay that course, it could surpass that film’s total of $368.3 million and become Illumination’s highest-grossing domestic film to date. (Universal’s Jurassic World Dominion is looking over its shoulder as well, as it passed $369 million Sunday.) The Rise of Gru is over $676 million worldwide, while Love and Thunder is over $662 million.
That is barely more than what Top Gun: Maverick has made domestically, as it shot up past $650 million this weekend to remain in the top five after 10 weeks of release with $8.5 million. It is off Black Panther’s pace by $31 million, but if it continues to make only 17% drops like it did this week, $700 million is very possible. Worldwide, it’s up to $1.32 billion. The momentary resurgence of adults returning to theaters continues with Elvis, which fell just 11% in its sixth weekend to earn $5.8 million. It is now pacing close to Knocked Up, meaning that $150 million is very much in its sights. With another $94 million overseas (better than all recent music biopics other than Bohemian Rhapsody), the film is about to recoup its budget while still in theaters. Where the Crawdads Sing grossed another $7.5 million, bringing its total up to $53.5 million. It is now in Crazy Stupid Love territory (literally and figuratively), meaning we have to bump up last week’s estimate of $65 million to potentially over $80 million.
The summer movie season is hoping for one last big charge before the box office heads into what could be a very slow autumn. Bullet Train, from the director of Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde, pits Brad Pitt against a locomotive full of fellow assassins. The hope is this will be the next $100 million hit and possibly the last one until Black Adam arrives. Comedian Jo Koy makes his wide release debut in theaters next week with Easter Sunday, based on his experiences. A24 is also going to try to bring Bodies Bodies Bodies to life. The well-reviewed horror mystery, currently at 96% on the Tomatometer, hopes to find an audience after the studio failed to properly launch Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros.