Last week we were all easing back into a brief period of seeming normalcy with Warner Bros. finally launching Christopher Nolan’s Tenet stateside. We were also still hedging our bets and putting kid gloves on while reporting what, if anything, the movie’s numbers meant about the state of moviegoing. This column has offered its own vision on how to look at them in the short term, but the studios are once again starting to look at the long game…
According to the studio, Tenet led the box office this weekend with $6.7 million. That would be a 66.9% drop from the initially reported $20.2 million. However, if we look at the guesstimated breakdown to $12 million, that would be just a 44.2%. Except for the fact that Warner Bros. is saying that Tenet dropped just 29% this weekend, which by most accounts is a very solid hold bringing its domestic total to $29.5 million. But if that is true that means the three-day weekend haul last week was more between $9 million and $10 million, with the additional money being made on the Monday holiday.
That is less than half of what the average expectations were for Nolan’s film’s opening weekend, which is why rumors began to surface on the eve of the Dune trailer launch that WB was going to be pushing back Wonder Woman 1984 from its October 2 slot; on Friday, they did just that, pushing the superhero flick to December 25, 2020.
Universal was the next to act, moving its Candyman remake into sometime in 2021. That leaves Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile and Sony’s animated Lord and Miller production, Connected, opening on October 23, as the next major studio releases on the schedule. On the semi-bright side, Tenet is up to $207 million worldwide, surpassing WB’s Birds of Prey ($201 million) for fifth place on the decimated 2020 chart, behind Bad Boys for Life, The Eight Hundred, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Dolittle.
The only new release of the week was The Broken Hearts Gallery. Sony decided to adopt the WB method and kept its numbers from the record until this morning: the movie made $1.1 million in 2,204 theaters. That’s a $499 per-theater-average. Even if we apply our rule of 2.5-to-3x for the multiple, that would mean the movie would be on track to earn $2.75-to-$3.3 million total in normal times. Or, to put it in September release terms, a number between what was earned by last year’s The Goldfinch and 1988’s Moon Over Parador.
Last week, Mulan grossed a reported $33.5 million from more than 1.1 homes with its $US29.99 Premium On Demand release on Disney+. This weekend, it made another $23.2 million opening in China for an international gross of $37.6 million. (That comes with a blackout on local press covering the film there due to several controversies.) Also last week, the column suggested The New Mutants was headed for a final tally between $16.9 million and $20.3 million; its total this weekend stands at $15.3 million. Unhinged is not putting up big numbers, but they are a little better when compared against the August releases we had it in league last week. With $13.8 million total, it just outgrossed 2014’s Sin City: A Dame to Die For. So that’s…something.
With so little action in our current-day box office, we’re casting our eyes back this week.
September 11: Five years ago, Pixar’s Inside Out surpassed $350 million with $283,530 on its 85th day of release. At the time it was the second-highest–grossing film for the animation company behind just Toy Story 3. Since then, Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, and Toy Story 4 have all surpassed it. Fifteen years ago, in 2005, Wedding Crashers passed $200 million on its 59th day of release with $738,000, making it the sixth-highest–grossing “R”-rated film ever at the time.
September 12: In 2015, Marvel’s Ant-Man made it to $175 million, grossing $811,713 on day 58. Back in 1993, In the Line of Fire reached $100 million on its 66th day of release, with $338,164. Fifteen years later, Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder grossed $1.21 million to cross $100 million on its 31st day of release. A year later, Quentin Tarantino would accomplish the same feat with Inglourious Basterds, doing it by grossing $2.78 million on just its 23rd day in theaters.
September 13: Day 44 of release for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a momentous one: it grossed $3.9 million to pass $300 million. It took 93 days and another $178,547 for How To Train Your Dragon 2 to reach $175 million. Stephen King’s It only took six days to gross $150 million when it made $7.9 million on this day in 2017. Then we have a quartet of $100 million passers. American Pie did it in 1999 on its 67th day with $73,625; Step Brothers crossed the line on day 51 with $190,687; and Disney’s Freaky Friday remake made it with $2.01 million on day 39. But it was this day in 2002 that was part of one of the most historic runs in box office history: With $3.05 million, My Big Fat Greek Wedding made it to $100 million on its 148th day of release.
This was to be the weekend of the latest film in The Conjuring universe. The James Wan-less The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was going to be battling A Quiet Place Part II for number 1 at the box office when that film initially moved from March to September in what looked like a pretty horror-centric month. Alas, the third entry in the series, helmed by The Curse of La Llorona’s Michael Chaves, was pushed back to June 4, 2021.
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[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]