You can’t sugarcoat it — this week has been abysmal in terms of box office numbers, with the exception of one film. Let’s talk about this one first before we get into the bad news: Wes Anderson‘s Asteroid City has been released in only six theatres this weekend and has made $790.000, which is the best-limited per-theater average since Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land. It’ll be a great sign for its wide run next week, even if reviews haven’t been as strong as in some of Anderson’s previous efforts.
But the rest of the weekend hasn’t been so great. The Blackening did OK, considering it only cost $5 million to produce and made $6 million domestically. It also helps that it has received some of the best reviews of Tim Story‘s filmography to hopefully give it some legs as more people see it and strong word-of-mouth is created. Aside from that, two major blockbusters have totally crashed and burned in cinemas.
First up is Disney’s Elemental, which only made $29 million domestically over a $200 million budget! This is the worst opening of ANY Pixar film in the studio’s history. There were many factors that saw the movie fizzle out in cinemas as it opened, with one being its poor marketing campaign, but, more importantly, its lukewarm premiere at Cannes which saw lots of critics giving mixed-to-negative reviews on the movie. The reviews improved as more critics saw it, but the damage was already done. It’s great that Pixar is back in the theatrical market, but they’ve unfortunately made some mistakes that ensured it wasn’t going to do very well in cinemas, though I suspect DreamWorks’ Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken will do even worse…
But the worst opening of the weekend has to be The Flash. Hailed as the greatest superhero movie of all time by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, the movie had so many factors against it that it would’ve never been a success, regardless of what the Warner Bros. and DC bosses would say about the film. Ezra Miller’s legal troubles are one factor. Still, another one has to be the studio’s mistake to premiere at CinemaCon to generate buzz and then proceed to screen the movie for FREE throughout the whole month of May and June before it is released. You have no idea how many email invites I received to see an unfinished cut in advance, and which were not for press screenings. These showings were open to everyone who registered, and the rooms were purposefully overbooked to guarantee a full house.
Of course, this was done to generate hype in anticipation of the film’s release, but here’s what the studio seemingly didn’t understand. If you’re going to host weekly (and free) advanced screenings of the movie throughout May and June and open it to anyone who registers, everyone who goes to these screenings will not see the movie again, regardless if it’s an unfinished cut or not (and based on the word of people I know who have seen both cuts: very little changed, apart from the ending and post-credits scene).
Unlike Elemental, as more people saw it, the reception started souring, especially about two weeks before release. Yes, many external factors definitely did not help the movie. Still, the tactic of touting it as “the greatest superhero movie of all time,” showing it at CinemaCon to overwhelming praise, and then continuously showing the movie to thousands of people in advance until the reception started to backfire absolutely didn’t work out.
Firstly, you should never market your movie as “the greatest of all time,” even if it is. Let the people judge it on their own and feed in the buzz from that. Secondly, Warner could’ve easily shown the movie at CinemaCon in April and then wait for advance screenings a week or two before release. That could’ve helped the film reach at least a $70 million opening, but it’s now starting with a $55 million opening. Ouch. Don’t be surprised if Blue Beetle and Aquaman, and the Lost Kingdom flop, regardless of their quality. It’s high time for the DCEU to end, and I believe James Gunn will be pleased to reboot the whole thing with Superman: Legacy.
Here’s the full list of the top ten films this weekend:
- The Flash (Warner Bros/DC): $55.1M – 4,234 theatres
- Elemental (Disney): $29.5M – 4,035 theatres
- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony/Marvel): $27.8M (-49,9%) – 3,873 theatres
- Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount): $20.0M (-67.2%) – 3,680 theatres
- The Little Mermaid (Disney): $11.6M (-49.9%) – 3,480 theatres
- The Blackening (Lionsgate): $6.0M – 1,775 theatres
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (Disney): $5.0M (-30.8%) – 2,260 theatres
- The Boogeyman (Disney): $3.8M (-46.9%) – 2,140 theatres
- Fast X (Universal): $2.0M (-61.7%) – 1,550 theatres
- Asteroid City (Universal): $790.000 – 6 theatres
Source: Box Office Mojo