The SAG-AFTRA strike is officially over and now things can get “back to normal” just in time for the holiday season. Disney/Marvel marked the beginning of the season with the MCU’s The Marvels, which didn’t quite capture the audience’s enthusiasm, accumulating a modest $47 million in domestic ticket sales, yet still took the top spot at the box office.
The collective box office earnings for all films this weekend amounted to $88.6 million, a notable contrast from the $210.8 million recorded on the corresponding weekend last year.
The lackluster $47 million debut for The Marvels left much to be desired. Among the 33 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), this weekend’s opening stands as the franchise’s historically lowest. Previously, The Incredible Hulk held this distinction, garnering $55.4 million during the weekend of June 13-15, 2008. Adding to the concern, The Marvels, a direct sequel to Captain Marvel, fell short in comparison, as the latter raked in a much higher $153.4 million in its domestic opening from March 8-10, 2019. Notably, Captain Marvel went on to amass $426.8 million domestically and a staggering $1.1 billion worldwide.
Following this significant setback, doubts loom over the future prospects of Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) as the lead character in upcoming movies. The prevailing sentiment supports the notion that the golden era of superhero movies might be behind us, particularly considering the unimpressive performance earlier this year from Marvel’s Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania and DC’s The Flash.
The 32 preceding MCU titles have grossed an impressive $11.7 billion domestically, more than double the earnings of the next closest movie franchise, Star Wars, which stands at $5.1 billion domestically.
When you factor in the $2.7 billion generated by titles from the DC Extended Universe, the cumulative earnings for superhero movies from major studios in the U.S. and Canada reach a substantial $15 billion. Given their substantial production costs, superhero films have always been high-risk, high-reward ventures. The recently concluded actors’ and writers’ strikes have compelled studios to explore every avenue for cost reduction.
Typically, a superhero movie commands a production cost of $200 million, with a similar amount allocated for marketing. As a general guideline, these films would need to surpass the $500 million mark in worldwide box office earnings to break even. At a time when interest in the genre appears to be waning, these budgets must be curtailed.
Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson return as Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) and Nick Fury. Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team-up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as “The Marvels.” Critics are lukewarm with their 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas moviegoers are more appreciative with an 84% score.
In its third weekend, Universal and Blumhouse’s Five Nights At Freddy’s secured the #2 spot at the box office with a three-day gross of $9 million. After experiencing a soaring $80 million opening on the weekend preceding Halloween, followed by a substantial 76% decline to $19.4 million in its second weekend, FNaF tumultuous journey steadied with a $9.0 million weekend gross and a 53% decrease. The cumulative total for this horror flick, inspired by the video game, now stands at $127.2 million after 17 days. Projections indicate that it is poised to reach $150 million domestically and $273 million worldwide, marking a commendable profit for a movie that incurred a production cost of only $20 million.
The reigning Queen of music, movies, and even football is still holding strong at the box office. This weekend, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour graced 2,848 North American theaters and secured the #3, grossing $5.9 million, marking a 57% decline from the previous weekend. The encore performance on its fifth weekend is noteworthy, considering theaters initially committed to screening Taylor Swift‘s concert film for only four weeks to secure the initial booking. Projections suggest that it will maintain a broad presence through Thanksgiving, yielding its screen space only to accommodate the opening of Renaissance: A Film By Beyonce on December 1st.
Expanding its reach, Sofia Coppola‘s Priscilla secured an additional 1,002 locations compared to last week’s opening, claiming the fourth spot with $4.8 million. Impressively, it experienced a minimal decline of only 5% from the previous week. What’s particularly intriguing is its consistent performance at the 1,300 locations that screened it last week, considering the overall 26% decline in this weekend’s box office. The cumulative gross for the Priscilla Presley biopic now stands at $12.7 million.
Securing the #5 spot with a 32% decline, Killers Of The Flower Moon earned $4.6 million in its fourth weekend at the box office. Martin Scorsese‘s 3½ hour epic, at risk of disappearing from most theaters before Thanksgiving weekend, lost over 400 locations this weekend. After 24 days, its total domestic gross stands at $59.9 million, notably falling far below most projections.
Attempting to break into the top five this weekend were The Holdovers from Focus/Universal and Journey To Bethlehem from Sony. In the second weekend of its rollout phase, The Holdovers claimed the #6 spot at the box office with a $3.2 million haul from 778 locations. An encouraging statistic for this comedy, starring Paul Giamatti and directed by Alexander Payne who worked together in 2004’s Sideways, is its impressive average gross per location at $4,113—second only to The Marvels’ $11,663. It sits poised to capitalize on the holiday moviegoing season, boasting excellent scores on Rotten Tomatoes of 96% from critics and 91% from audiences.
Meanwhile, Journey To Bethlehem secured the #7 spot at the box office, earning only $2.4 million from slightly over 2,000 theaters in its opening weekend. This live-action Christmas musical, recounting the story of Mary, Joseph, and the birth of Jesus with a soundtrack of Christmas standards and original pop tunes, fell short of expectations. Despite hopes that its religious narrative would attract an audience akin to those who turned out for Angel Studios’ faith-based titles earlier this year, the film did not realize those aspirations.
In its seventh week, Paramount’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, which is also available on paid video on demand, slipped from the #8 position to the #9 and earned $1.76 million, reflecting a 13% decline. The cumulative box office for the movie now stands at $64,564,000.
Falling from the fifth position, Radical, now in its second week a the box office took the #10 spot on the list earning $1.8 million, marking a 34% decline. The film’s cumulative box office now stands at $5,210,000.
The Top 10
1. The Marvels (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 50; Est. budget: $220 million
$47,000,000 in 4,030 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $11,663; Cumulative: $47,000,000
2. Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #1; also streaming on Peacock
$9,000,000 (-53%) in 3,694 (-95) theaters; PTA: $2,436; Cumulative: $127,205,000
3. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Variance for AMC) Week 5; Last week #2
$5,900,000 (-57%) in 3,848 (-756) theaters; PTA: $2,072; Cumulative: $172,500,000
4. Priscilla (A24) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$4,793,000 (-5%) in 2,361 (+1,002) theaters; PTA: $2,030; Cumulative: $12,729,000
5. Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount) Week 4; Last weekend #3
$4,650,000 (-32%) in 3,357 (-429) theaters; PTA: $1,385; Cumulative: $59,937,000
6. The Holdovers (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #16
$3,200,000 (+463%) in 778 (+714) theaters; PTA: $4,113; Cumulative: $4,300,000
7. Journey to Bethlehem (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A-
$2,425,000 in 2,002 theaters; PTA: $1,211; Cumulative: $2,425,000
8. Tiger 2 (Yash Raj) NEW (opened Saturday) NEW – est. budget: $50 million
$2,250,000 in 750 theaters; PTA: $3,000; Cumulative: $2,250,000
9. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Paramount) Week 7; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD
$1,760,000 (-13%) in 1,779 (-625) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $64,564,000
10. Radical (Pantelion) Week 2; Last weekend #5
$1,752,000 (-34%) in 534 (+115) theaters; PTA: $3,281; Cumulative: $5,210,000
After 45 weeks, the year-to-date box office now sits at 123% of the earnings at the same point in 2022 and represents 84% of the total from 2019. This comparison is made by assessing the current weekend against the equivalent one from the previous year. Specifically, on 11/11/2022, Disney/Marvel debuted Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, achieving an impressive domestic gross of $181.3 million.