By Matthew Moorcroft
After years of struggling, it’s good to see DreamWorks Animation (somewhat) reclaim their footing as The Bad Guys ended winning out this weekend at the box office, while it’s competition all had varied openings ranging from the impressive to the abysmal. Let’s take a look and break it down.
1 – The Bad Guys ($24 million)
Coming in first place, The Bad Guys exceeded expectations and opened with a solid $24 million. Some estimates had the film at just $13 million, and while it’s hefty $70-75 million price tag means that it will likely be a bit before it turns a profit, the lack of competition till June with Lightyear certainly gives it a boost. And with stellar word of mouth (A cinemascore) helping it, it’s very likely that DreamWorks is celebrating internally at this moment.
And they absolutely should be glad that The Bad Guys ended up working out. DreamWorks has had a difficult time lately with many of their non-franchise films failing even before the pandemic. The Bad Guys is their highest opening for a non-sequel since 2017’s The Boss Baby ($49 million), and their highest opening in general since 2019’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($55 million). And while it’s nowhere close to those films, those films had higher budgets and ultimately The Bad Guys is also still working in a pandemic environment, even if the general movie-going public is slowly returning.
It will be interesting to see if it can keep this early momentum going, or if it was just a case of audiences feeling starved for a good animated film in theaters. If anything, the real losers here are Disney, whose bizarre decision to release Turning Red on Disney+ is looking rather foolish in hindsight especially since The Bad Guys still couldn’t catch up to Encanto’s $27 million opening from last year. Nevertheless, solid start to DreamWorks’ potential franchise.
2 – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($15 million)
Staying in the second place spot from last week, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 continues to be the big success story of the spring/early summer season. Bringing in $15 million in it’s third weekend, this is around on par with the first film’s third week where it made $16 million, which bodes well for it’s future prospects. This makes the film climb to an impressive $145.8 million domestically. With only $3 million away from the first film’s domestic gross, the film is easily on track to become the highest grossing video game movie of all time domestically. This is an impressive feat considering the trouble that the Sonic franchise has gone through over the years and feels well earned.
Internationally, the film has hit $287 million, which also puts it on track to beat the first film’s $319.7 million total within the coming week. The film’s delayed Japan release date (August 19th) means it’s impossible to tell how much it will beat it by, however, as both Uncharted and especially Warcraft are over $100 million above it in terms of gross at the moment. Warcraft‘s hefty $437 million haul is a tall order to match, and while Sonic continues to hold well I have my personal doubts as to whether or not it can do it.
Still, the film’s holds are very good, if steeper then the first. This is to be expected, as the film opened bigger then the first and is playing more like a superhero film rather then a video game film and it’s holds are more similar to something like that. And when we look at it like that, it only has one more week until it’s demolished by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (which is currently tracking around $190-210 million domestically for it’s opening weekend) so we will see in the coming week how it will fare in the long haul.
3 – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore ($14 million)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After a weak opening weekend last week ($42 million) and tepid word of mouth (B+ cinemascore), the third prequel to the Wizarding World franchise fell a disastrous 67% in it’s second weekend of release to make only $14 million. At only $67.1 million domestically so far, it will struggle at this point to make a profit and as Warner Bros. has stated it will put the future of the Fantastic Beasts movies in doubt.
Of course, this was bound to happen. Crimes of Grindelwald was critically panned and audience reception was divisive to say the least, and along with the delays, controversies surrounding J.K. Rowling for her transphobic statements, Ezra Miller’s recent outbursts, and the Johnny Depp fallout, the movie was already doomed from the getgo. And while the film is $280 million worldwide, this is a far cry from the days where Harry Potter was a marquee franchise and will struggle to reach Crimes of Grindelwald’s $654.9 million worldwide haul, and even it’s $159.6 million domestic haul.
So what now? It’s clear that, for Warner Bros. at least, it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what to do with this series, or quite possibly put it to bed for a bit. The brand’s reputation is, at the point, tarnished, and while WB could continue to make them in hopes of future returns it’s clear audiences don’t care for these movies. At this point, it’s time is done.
4 – The Northman ($12 million)
Opening to the higher end of estimates was The Northman in 4th place, which brought in $12 million in it’s opening weekend. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t exactly a stellar opening for a movie with a hefty $90 million price tag on it, and it’s already limited appeal has already put the brakes in this making a profit at least theatrically.
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom for the film. It marks the biggest opening of Robert Eggers’ career, and when compared to other historical epics of the past year it tripled The Last Duel ($4.8 million) and doubled The Green Knight ($6.8 million), and it’s B cinemascore was higher then pundits expected. In fact, audience response, while a bit muted, has been leaning positive for The Northman, a rarity in the realm of arthouse blockbusters like this. If anything, The Northman is the most successful movie yet of it’s kind which is a cause for celebration.
Still, there is a tinge of sadness that the film ended up doing this little and is another sign that films like these just don’t make money at the box office anymore. It’s a sad reality, but The Northman‘s disappointment is exactly within expectations and we can only hope that future streaming can save this one.
5 – The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ($7.2 million)
And in 5th place, rounding out the top five, was the other new release The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the new Nicolas Cage meta vehicle that crashed and burned on it’s opening weekend. With a haul of $7.2 million, it has Cage’s best opening in years, but ultimately it’s underperformance is a sign that maybe a movie about Cage’s meme qualities isn’t something that is gonna resonate with casual audiences all the way through. And if it’s B+ cinemascore is any indication, audiences weren’t impressed either way.
Lots of factors at play here. Outside of the lack marketing, it’s very likely that The Northman, which is playing to the same crowd, stole most of it’s audience as the “safer bet” for many audiences. Also very likely is the film’s overall marketing campaign, which focused on Cage’s current meme status among the film community which, while a funny angle and it certainly worked as the film has gotten positive reviews from critics, casual audiences were likely turned away from a lack of understanding.
It’s $30 million price tage isn’t high though, so this will likely do decently well on streaming going forward and make a profit in the long run. Cage’s career has survived worse as well, and it’s very likely we’ll see him in an actual resurgence going forward as he has started to re-enter Hollywood with bigger roles. A dud opening here, but it’s not the end for the Cage.