By Matthew Moorcroft
In this later then usual report, Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick are nearly neck and neck as the two must now face off into the 4th of July weekend. Let’s break it down.
1 – Elvis ($31.2 million)
Props to Warner Bros., whose extensive marketing campaign aimed at older audiences paid off in spades here. Elvis scored an impressive $31.2 million debut, which places it higher then Rocketman‘s debut from 2019 of $25.7 million. And with 31% of the audience being over 55, it seems that older audiences are officially back in the movie theaters after being the last to return since the pandemic.
While there were fears that Baz Luhermann’s style would turn audiences away, it seems like that it worked in the film’s favour as it received an impressive A- Cinemascore, the best in his career since Romeo+Juliet. The film’s strong critical reception also likely aided in the strong numbers, as early reception for the film coming out of Cannes was extremely positive with most of the praise being sent towards Austin Butler.
With a budget of $85 million, the film wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t exactly super pricey either, and if it maintains a decent hold next week it will likely be able to crack a decent profit. Most of Elvis‘ love will likely come with awards season as well, which Austin Butler is now likely to be a frontrunner. Great performance across the board for the film, and we will watch in the coming weeks to see how it fares.
2 – Top Gun: Maverick ($29.6 million)
Close on the heels of Elvis however is the monster hit of Maverick, which continues to dominate the summer conversation in terms of box office potential. Falling just 34%, it has made another $29.6 million to add onto it’s $520.8 million domestic haul. With it now in the Top 15 highest domestic grossers of all time, it’s only a question of if it can crack the Top 10 before the end of the summer.
Worldwide is the bigger story though. The film crossed $1 billion this past weekend, becoming the 49th film in movie history to cross that number and also the first film of Tom Cruise’s career to do so. It stands at $1.011 billion, which is an impressive number when all is said and done, and it’s only going to get higher the further we get into the year.
Maverick‘s success can be attributed too word of mouth and word of mouth alone. While it was always going to be a success simply based on the nostalgia value of the IP and Cruise’s track record, the film’s massive success is mostly simply because it’s that good of a film and audiences love it. Studios are likely seeing the success of the film and taking it into account, particularly Paramount, and I’m excited to see where it’s success leads us.
3 – Jurassic World Dominion ($26.7 million)
In third place, Dominion proves that it is critic proof as grosses another $26.7 million to add onto it’s $306.5 million domestic haul. Dropping 55% in it’s third weekend, it’s continuing to perform nearly identically to it’s predecessor in terms of box office results and numbers, which bodes well for the long term as it’s clear that the film has it’s target audience and will not deviate from that.
Worldwide the film isn’t doing too shabby either, with $752.2 million under it’s name. The film has the potential to hit a billion worldwide, though it remains to be seen if it can. Fallen Kingdom ended it’s run at $1.310 million so it’s unlikely to beat that but hitting a billion would at least ensure Universal that the property still has legs going forward.
Still, I wonder what direction Universal will take the series now that the main trilogy is done. The series spawned a successful animated show on Netflix so clearly there is room for expansion, but going forward I wonder if a new film with a new cast is viable. Nevertheless, clearly the series has some element of being critic proof as this film received negative reviews but audiences still showed up.
4 – The Black Phone ($23.6 million)
Horror films tend to do well, and horror films by Blumhouse tend to do amazingly well, and The Black Phone was no exception. Produced on a small budget of $18 million, The Black Phone opened with a very respectable and solid $23.6 million, putting it already in the green only 3 days after it’s release. This also marks it as one of the first big horror hits post-pandemic, a genre that usually does well but needed a shot in the arm outside of the usual franchise stuff like Halloween Kills.
Blumhouse has made a name for themselves as one of the best moneymakers in the business, producing quality horror films at low budgets and turning in a massive profit for the studio. And Black Phone has quality to spare – it got strong reviews, a great B+ Cinemascore (which for horror is basically an A), and had the star power of Ethan Hawke in a villain turn. It had the recipes for a success and it delivered in spades, working as great counter-programming for both Maverick and Elvis.
Going forward, this is one of those films that’s just going to keep on making money. Universal and Blumhouse are already likely thinking franchise potential with this one, and if Scott Derrickson continues to be involved we could have another horror series to look forward to on a yearly basis. Congrats to those involved!
5 – Lightyear ($18.2 million)
It wasn’t all good at the box office this weekend though. Despite Pixar’s track record of delivering strong second weekend numbers, Lightyear appears to have been a dud on all fronts from a normally consistent studio. Dropping a shockingly high 64%, Lightyear‘s $18.2 million haul in it’s second weekend brings it’s domestic total to just $89.3 million, which isn’t good and means that it will likely just barely cross $100 million domestic.
A $156 million worldwide haul isn’t much better, to be honest. While it will likely cross $200 million and end up breaking even in international numbers, this is a far cry from Pixar’s usual standards and likely all the more reason as to why it was a mistake putting Luca and Turning Red on streaming only. Sure, Soul was still in the midst of the pandemic so it’s understandable, but Pixar’s morale being at an all time low in the midst of this is likely not boding well for whatever decision the studio has in store for them.
Having the highest second weekend drop of any Pixar movie doesn’t bode well (Onward technically is higher but that film was affected by the pandemic), and while I don’t think this will effect Elemental going forward as I feel pretty confident in that one receiving a theatrical release, it could absolutely effect what kinds of projects get the greenlight at Pixar and which get sent to streaming. No more spin-offs, that’s for sure.
In the rest of the box office, another small film opened with impressive numbers. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, the wholesome mockumentary based on the Youtube series of the same name, opened to only 6 theaters across the country and scored an impressive $159,403 with the highest per theater average of the weekend. $26,567 is no slouch of a number, which likely makes A24 feel more confident about it’s prospects when it expands in the coming weeks.