Holdovers, Re-releases, & $3 Tickets Keep Box Office Afloat Over Labor Day Weekend
Labor Day weekend is not a shining spot for the box office, often known for being a dumping ground and among the year’s lowest grossing weekends. The rare exception is 2021, with the MCU film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings breaking the holiday weekend’s record as it opened to $75.4 million for the three-day and $94.7 million for the four-day and led to the overall three-day box office ($110 million) being the year’s fifth best. This year, it’s back to the status quo of the holiday weekend being stuck in the doldrums, and it is looking even more dire than usual. Estimates put the weekend at $53 million for the three-day (slightly above last weekend’s $52 million) and $62.3 million for the four-day, making it the worst Labor Day outing since the 1990s, leaving aside 2020 (for comparison’s sake, 2019 had a $91.7 million three-day and $121 million four-day gross). The three-day is the fourth lowest grossing of the year, and we may soon see the lowest grossing weekends since May 2021 due to the dearth of big new releases in the coming weeks.

The one bit of good news is that total admissions were actually way up thanks to National Cinema Day on Saturday when over three thousand theaters across the country offered tickets for $3. The National Association of Theatre Owners is reporting 8.1 million admissions on Saturday, which is the highest of the entire year, compared to just 1 million on Friday, 4.2 million for all of last weekend, 7.8 million for last year’s Labor Day weekend (based on the Friday through Sunday three-day) and 8.2 million for 2019’s Fri-Sun Labor Day weekend (these numbers are according to EntTelligence). In those terms, Saturday was a movie-going bonanza (even if it was one of the worst Saturdays of the year in actual grosses), and it’s clear that viewers are still eager for the big screen experience. As audiences on Saturday were treated to a sizzle reel of upcoming titles, hopefully this will spur more interest in the slate for the next month and a half and help exhibitors and distributors get over the hump until the next wave of blockbusters arrives to save the day.

It was a tight race this weekend, and when the actuals come in we could see a number of changes in the rankings. Based on the estimates, though, Spider-Man: No Way Home has swung into first place for the seventh time as it gets a re-release with 11 new minutes of footage. Spidey grossed $6 million for the three-day and $7.6 million for the four-day from 3,935 theaters, a wider release than any other film this weekend. The first place finish ties it with Avatar for the most number one weekends since the turn of the new millennium, though when Avatar gets a re-release in a few weeks it may set a new 21st century record. This brings the cume for No Way Home, the third highest domestic grosser of all time, to $812 million.

The other post-pandemic box office phenomenon Top Gun: Maverick flew into second place, taking home $5.5 million for the three-day (up 16.5% from last weekend) and $7 million for the four-day in its 15th weekend. The estimates put the film’s cume at $700.34 million through Monday. This is just a hair under the $700.43 million of Black Panther which holds the fifth position on the all time domestic box office chart. The actuals could put Maverick ahead or further behind, but either way within 72 hours the Tom Cruise film will officially be the fifth highest domestic grosser of all time.

Being one of the only family films around is working in DC League of Super-Pets’ favor as it went from sixth place last weekend to third place over Labor Day weekend. The toon saw $5.45 million over the three-day (up 31.7% from last weekend) and $6.97 million over the four-day, bringing its cume to $82.3 million after its sixth weekend. Globally it has grossed $161 million, a not great total given its $90 million budget, but it is showing fantastic legs stateside following its $23 million opening.

Bullet Train fell from second to fourth place but held nicely with a drop of just 3.7%, bringing in $5.4 million in its fifth weekend and $6.8 million over the long weekend. The Brad Pitt-starrer now has a cume of $87.4 million domestic and $197 worldwide, more than double its $90 million budget.

Last weekend’s number one The Invitation declined to fifth place, and though its 30% drop is the second largest among the top ten holdovers, it’s still a great hold, especially considering its C CinemaScore. The vampire film brought in $4.7 million for the three-day and $5.75 million for the four-day. The $14.8 million cume is nothing to write home about, but with just a $10 million budget it’s a solid take after two weekends. Internationally the film has a $3.5 million cume.

Notable outside of the top five is Steven Spielberg’s classic killer shark movie Jaws, which continues to thrill audiences nearly half a century after its original 1975 release. The 3D and IMAX re-release grossed $2.3 million over the three-day and $2.73 million over the long weekend from 1,246 theaters, coming in tenth place.

The one wide newcomer Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. couldn’t find many congregants as it came in 14th place, grossing $1.44 million through Sunday and $1.75 million through Monday. Focus released the film in 1,880 theaters while it had a day and date streaming release on Peacock. Despite positive reviews (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), the CinemaScore is a weak C-.