The Invitation’ In 1st Place With $7 Million In One Of The Year’s Worst Weekends, ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ Casts A Weak Spell With $2.9 Million
Expectations for this weekend were low, but it still feels like a disappointment as it dropped 34% from last weekend and became the year’s third lowest grossing at the box office. Despite three wide releases, the overall box office dropped to $52.1 million, making this the worst weekend since January and the first weekend since May 2021 where no film grossed over $10 million. The newcomers failed to spark and the top film from last weekend took a massive plunge in the final weekend of August, and while the month outperformed August 2021 (which had a $418 million cume compared to this month’s $451 million with still a few days to go), September may bring us to box-office lows we haven’t seen since the late May 2021 summer kickoff.

The Invitation took the top spot this weekend with $7 million from 3,114 locations, the lowest first place debut since Nobody in March 2021 ($6.8 million). By pre-pandemic accounts, it’s the lowest first place debut since Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star ($6.66 million) in 2003. Still, putting aside the sorry state of the marketplace, this isn’t a bad opening for this $10 million budgeted film, it’s just one that wouldn’t have debuted at number one in normal times. Sony’s romantic-vampire thriller starring Nathalie Emmanuel got a poor reception from both critics (26% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (C CinemaScore), so we’ll see if it fades away after this weekend or if it could still sneak in a decent multiplier and make up much of its budget theatrically. Internationally The Invitation grossed $1.6 million from 19 markets.

Second place went to Bullet Train, which keeps chugging along in its fourth weekend. Down 30%, it grossed $5.6 million for a cume of $78.2 million. The numbers here remain in line with The Lost City, which had a $78.3 million cume after weekend four and went on to gross $105 million domestically. Worldwide Bullet Train is at $174 million, so a finish that goes well beyond doubling its $90 million production budget is in the cards here.

Third place went to last weekend’s number two Beast, which pulled ahead of last weekend’s first place Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero but fell behind last weekend’s third place Bullet Train. Beast dropped 58% for a $4.9 million second weekend, and the cume on the “Idris Elba vs King of the Jungle” thriller is now $20.1 million. That isn’t great given its $36 million budget, and it doesn’t look like an overseas smash either, with the worldwide total now at $36.2 million. This isn’t terrible, though, and it could make back the bulk of its production budget before going to the ancillaries.

Still flying high in its 14th weekend, Top Gun: Maverick took fourth place, dropping just 20% to gross $4.75 million. The Cruise film now has a cume of $691.2 million, which puts it only $9.2 million away from becoming the fifth highest-grossing domestic film of all time, currently held by Black Panther with $700.4 million. Worldwide Maverick is in 12th place with $1.422 billion.

Last week’s number one Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero fell to fifth place with $4.54 million as it plummeted by 78%, which is the second largest weekend drop for a 3,000+ theater release ever, behind only the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot which dropped 80.4%. Though massively frontloaded, the numbers on the anime are still great, with the $30.76 million cume putting it slightly ahead of its predecessor Dragon Ball Super: Broly’s $30.71 million cume and making it the fifth highest domestic grossing anime of all time. Globally the film is at $68.7 million, and over the next six weeks it will release in Germany, Spain, South Korea, Italy, and France.

This weekend’s two other wide releases both fell outside of the top five. Three Thousand Years of Longing was much awaited by fans of director George Miller, being his first release since Mad Max: Fury Road which became a global hit with $375 million worldwide. However, Three Thousand Years of Longing didn’t find much of an audience. It debuted to just $2.88 million from 2,436 theaters, coming in seventh place. United Artists went wide with what is really a specialty box-office title, starring Tilda Swinton as an academic and Idris Elba as a Djinn who tells stories of his experiences over thousands of years. Despite the $60 million budget and the abundance of visual splendor, this isn’t your usual commercial-fantasy film, and the release date doesn’t suggest much confidence in the film’s box-office potential. Things may have been different if the film had awards buzz, but the reception since the Cannes debut has been mixed, though it leans positive (70% on Rotten Tomatoes, B CinemaScore). The film may be able to make up for it worldwide, but there’s no denying that the domestic opening is one of the year’s worst relative to its budget.

The other, smaller new release was Bleecker Street’s Breaking, which opened in 902 theaters. The John Boyega-starring drama, which is based on the true story of a veteran whose desperate financial situation led him to rob a bank and take hostages, came in 15th place with a soft $1.02 million.