‘Bullet Train’ Right On Track With $30.1 Million, ‘Easter Sunday’ Needing Prayers At $5.25 Million
The unofficial final weekend of the summer box office came in with a total of $91.5 million, $6.2 million below last weekend, making it the weakest since May. The bad news is that this will likely be the best weekend until mid-to-late October. While the next few months may have a couple sleeper hits, the slate for the remainder of August and September is the weakest since early Spring 2021, before the semi-post-Covid “reopening” in the summer. The strength of the holdovers should keep the overall box office at decent levels for a few more weeks, but we may soon see the lowest overall weekend numbers since before Summer 2021.

For now, though, the box office engines are still chugging, and around one-third of the weekend’s overall gross came from Sony’s Bullet Train, which is the season’s last big film. The Brad Pitt starring action-thriller opened to $30.1 million from 4,357 theaters, right on track with expectations. This is the second best opening for an R-rated non-sequel since the pandemic began, behind Nope’s $44 million opening two weekends ago. By that measure, it’s a win, but given the film’s $90 million budget as well as hopes that it would end the summer with a bang, it’s a bit underwhelming. The B+ CinemaScore is the same as The Lost City, which remains a good domestic comp with its $30.5 million opening and $105 million cume.

International will be key for the film, and it’s typical for Pitt’s movies to see at least 60% of their box office come in from abroad. On that front, so far so good. From 73% of its international footprint (with Japan, Korea, and Italy to open within the next month), Bullet Train opened to $32.4 million for a global total of $62.5 million. The international launch is tracking closely with Murder On The Orient Express and Kingsman: The Secret Service, which both grossed $199 million internationally excluding Russia and China. If Bullet Train can keep its momentum, a $300 million worldwide finish is certainly possible, and it should benefit from having minimal competition in the next two months.

DC League of Super-Pets came in second place in its second weekend with $11.2 million. This puts it at $45.1 million after its second weekend, slightly ahead of its comp The Bad Guys’ $44.6 million cume despite different trajectories. The Bad Guys held better on the weekend (down 32% in its second weekend with $16.2 million) while Super-Pets had strong summer first weekdays that were more than double the first weekdays of Bad Guys. The numbers still feel under-superpowered given the film’s $90 million budget, but internationally the hold was better, dropping just 41% in holdover markets, and the global cume is $83.4 million.

Nope came in third place, down 54% in its third weekend with an additional $8.5 million. With a total of $98 million, it is on track to beat the 2.46 multiplier by Us (Nope will hit that point at $109 million), but it may not get much further. While it will significantly underperform writer/director Jordan Peele’s first two films (both finished between $175-176 million) despite having a much bigger budget, it is hard to feel down on an R-rated original film that goes beyond $100 million. Nope will have a domestic cume around 1.5 times its $68 million budget by the time it opens internationally next weekend, which isn’t a bad place to be even though Peele’s films thus far have had strong domestic skews, with just under one-third coming in from abroad.

In fourth place is Thor: Love and Thunder, grossing $7.6 million in its fifth weekend and reaching a total of $316 million, putting it ahead ofThor: Ragnarok’s $315.1 million cume and making it the top grossing Thor film domestically. Worldwide Love and Thunder is at $699 million, and though it won’t top Ragnarok’s $854 million, it likely would if China and Russia were in play. Take away those two countries’ grosses and Ragnarok’s global total would be $718 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru came in fifth, bringing in another $7.1 million for a $335 million cume after six weekends. This puts it at the heels of the first Minions’ $336 million domestic finish, and it is tracking closely behind Despicable Me 2 (the biggest domestic grosser in the series with $368 million), which after its sixth weekend was at $338 million (including an additional two days in the gross due to its pre-July 4th Wednesday release).

Notable outside the top five is Top Gun: Maverick in sixth place with $7 million in its 11th weekend. Its total at $663 million, surpassing Titanic’s $659 million, making it the seventh all time best domestic grosser. Within a few weeks it should pass Avengers: Infinity War ($679 million) for sixth place. From there, we’ll see if it has enough fuel to hit the top five, which would require it to pass Black Panther’s $700 million cume.

The weekend’s other wide newcomer Easter Sunday opened in eighth place. Unfortunately, the pandemic-era comedy curse continues as the Jo Koy-starring film from Universal nabbed just $5.25 million from 3,125 theaters. Its chances of making back its $17 million budget theatrically are slim, especially since its international potential is limited, but with solid word of mouth (B+ CinemaScore) and little competition, it could see decent legs.

On a positive note in the specialty box office is A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies. Though it didn’t crack the top ten, on just six screens between New York and Los Angeles it grossed $227k for a strong average of $38k, by far the biggest of the weekend. The critically acclaimed Gen-Z horror-comedy expands to 1,200 locations next weekend, and it could be another winner for the indie distributor which has been on a hot streak this year with Everything Everywhere All at Once and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. For comparison’s sake, Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is A24’s highest grossing film ever with $69.4 million, had a $50k theater average from ten screens in its opening weekend.