After a pretty incredible October with four straight weeks of $40+ million openers, the box office hit a calm before the hopeful storm that is the holiday movie season — or, at least, next week’s Eternals launch. A pair of indie diversions tried to take advantage of the Halloween weekend, but even combined could not outdo the third weekend of the Michael Myers sequel, which is just as easily available at home for anyone who wants the Peacock. This weekend ultimately was going to be about the holds of the big four titles of prior weeks and whether they could still hit the milestones they were on course to reach.
(Photo by Chiabella James/©Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
How far Dune: Part One might fall is the question everyone has been pondering all week. It was certainly on the minds of Warner Bros. and Legendary when they went ahead and announced on Tuesday that Dune: Part Two was indeed a go, slotting it for October 2023. They may have wanted to get ahead of any further speculation that it was not going to happen if the numbers took a serious dive. And though they did dive, it was not as hefty a fall as it could have been.
Up until this week, the five best openers during the WB/HBO Max experiment have all suffered drops of differing degrees: Godzilla vs. Kong fell 56.9%, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It 57.1%, Space Jam: A New Legacy 69.1%, The Suicide Squad 71.5%, and Mortal Kombat plummeted off a cliff to the tune of 73.2%. Dune: Part One fell into the lower middle portion of that list with a 62% drop down to $15.5 million. That just misses the 10 highest drops of the year for films released in 3000+ theaters, and it’s still nothing to sneeze at. Among the 10 best openers of 2021, half have had some form of availability on a streaming service that weekend, and Dune: Part One joins Black Widow and Halloween Kills in the 60%+ drop club.
However, there is an even bigger number at play in whether or not Dune is on a path towards $100 million. And despite doubts last week, the quick answer this week is… maybe. That could change if Eternals takes a large chunk of business away next weekend, but for now, let’s show where the hope lies. After 10 days, Dune’s tally is up to $69.3 million, which is nearly $4 million higher than Disney’s Jungle Cruise was at this point, and that film offered Premium Access at home. Now, much of Dune’s lead is still due to its frontloaded opening weekend, as Cruise grossed $15.8 million in its second frame and outgrossed Dune $14.6 million to $12.8 million from Monday to Thursday. So it is already starting to lose pace, and Cruise is finishing its run with over $116 million in the bank. Dune also does not have summer weekdays in its favor, and it may not have the kind of pace that Cruise had over its next four weeks.
So there may be some hope this weekend, but even if we go back to pre-pandemic numbers in the month of October, Dune is still not that far ahead in its quest. Paranormal Activity 2 and High School Musical 3, which opened to $40.67 million and $42.03 million, respectively, had $62 million and $65.6 million after 10 days, compared to Dune’s $69.3 million. Paranormal had a $16.5 million second go and Musical had $15.3 million. A 50%+ drop for Dune next weekend would still have it about $6-7 million ahead of those films, but Musical finished with only $90.5 million while Paranormal took a nosedive and ended with only $84.7 million. Dune does not have this period in history in its favor, but hope springs eternal even if Eternals may quickly dampen it. Not to bury the lede, but Dune: Part One’s global tally now stands at over $250 million, becoming the tenth U.S. release since the pandemic and just the second WB/HBO Max film to hit that mark.
(Photo by ©Focus Features)
Both new releases unfortunately fall here this week as there isn’t a lot of positive spin on the openings for Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho ($4.1 million) and Scott Cooper’s Antlers ($4.1 million). Focus can perhaps brag that Soho is the second best opening they have had during the pandemic behind this summer’s Stillwater ($5.18 million), but that is not a high bar to clear. It’s also not much more than Shaun of the Dead opened to back in 2004 in just 607 theaters ($3.3 million), and it falls behind 2007’s Hot Fuzz ($5.84 million) and 2013’s The World’s End ($8.81 million). Searchlight Pictures, on the other hand, could say that the Guillermo del Toro-produced Antlers is the best opening they have had during the pandemic, better than The Night House’s $2.8 million. They are presumably concentrating more on Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch going wider this weekend and the del Toro-directed Nightmare Alley coming up in December.
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
So which metric are we to use for Halloween Kills – Jungle Cruise or Paranormal Activity 2? Currently streaming on the Peacock and playing in theaters, the film benefited from its namesake holiday falling on a weekend to officially move past Paranormal 2’s final gross. (Incidentally, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin began streaming on Paramount Plus this weekend.) With another second place finish this weekend and $85.6 million banked, David Gordon Green’s sequel remains ahead of Jungle Cruise’s 17-day tally of $82.2 million, and there has been remarkable week-to-week consistency this year among the top grossers — not a lot of leapfrogging in rankings due to bigger drops for certain films. Kills is a full $10 million ahead of High School Musical 3’s pace, but that film still had a $9.1 million third weekend compared to Kills’ $8.75 million, and the allure of seeing it in a theater could drop off substantially after Oct. 31. Right now it’s a 50/50 proposition to make it past $100 million, and whichever side of the line it ultimately lands, it won’t be by much of a margin.
In third place is No Time To Die with $7.8 million in its fourth week. That drop finally put the film behind A Quiet Place Part II’s steady pace, which grossed $9.1 million in weekend four. Though it is still $9 million ahead overall after 24 days, a final gross between $160-165 million is still very possible for the final film of the Daniel Craig era. Coming in fourth place this week was Funimation’s My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission with $6.4 million. You may remember how, earlier this year, the anime studio’s Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train managed to out-leg WB/HBO Max’s Mortal Kombat to beat that film’s final gross by over $5 million with $47.7 million total. If Academia had opened to Slayer numbers, it would have actually taken the #1 spot from Dune.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage finished its fifth weekend with $5.7 million for a total of $190.4 million. It is headed for a final gross of around $205 million. The Addams Family 2 became the 16th film of 2021 to cross $50 million and has a shot at outgrossing The Boss Baby: Family Business ($57.3 million) to become the highest-grossing (fully) animated film of the year. Addams grossed $3.2 million this weekend compared to The Boss Baby sequel’s $1.37 million fifth weekend and is less than a million behind it after a full month of release. Finally, going wider as mentioned is Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, grossing $2.7 million in 788 theaters to bring its tally to $4.6 million. That is already the third best tally for a Searchlight Pictures release in 2020-21, behind only Downfall ($8.28 million) and The Night House ($7.1 million).
(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)
Marvel and Disney are going to take another crack at getting to $200 million with the release of Eternals. Despite coming from the most recent Oscar-winning Best Director, Chloé Zhao, Eternals is the second Marvel-based film in a row (after the Venom sequel) to find itself right on the edge between fresh and rotten with a current 60% score. (Let There Be Carnage has risen back to 61%.) It did not seem to hurt either Venom films and the critic-proof, theatrical-exclusive Marvel Universe film could join Let There Be Carnage and Shang-Chi on the exclusive milestone list this year.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]