‘Thor 4’ To Reign Supreme Over Newcomers ‘Paws of Fury’, ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, and Expanding Indie Hit ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’
After an early summer jam packed with major franchise titles, things begin to slow down this weekend. Over the past two and a half months we hadTop Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion, Lightyear, and Minions: The Rise of Gru all sandwiched in between two MCU films, but the current slate doesn’t have any franchise titles until October (Halloween Kills and Black Adam), and we may not see another $100+ million opening until November (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). There are still some potentially big titles coming out over the rest of the summer, most notably the Jordan Peele directed Nope next weekend and the Brad Pitt starring Bullet Train on August 5th. However, there’s no doubt that the summer peaked early, and last weekend’s overall gross of $238 million, the year’s biggest thus far, won’t be topped at least until November. While there are no more summer tentpoles on the way, there are still plenty of films going wide, including three this weekend.

Despite all the newcomers, Thor: Love and Thunder will top the charts in its second weekend. Even with a large drop a la Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ 67% weekend two decline, we’re still looking at a $45+ million weekend for the MCU film, following its $144 million opening. Notably, Thor 4’s weekday numbers are holding up better than Doctor Strange 2’s. While Multiverse of Madness opened 30% better than Love and Thunder, the first Mondays were off by a much smaller degree, with Strange 2 ahead by just 11%. Thor 4’s $13.7 million grossing first Tuesday actually beat Strange 2’s $12.6 million first Tuesday, so it won’t be a surprise if the weekday trend keeps up and Thor 4 holds better than the previous (very front-loaded) MCU release. Both films received the same B+ CinemaScore and similar reviews (74% on Rotten Tomatoes for Strange 2, 67% for Thor 4).

The question is whether the film will be able to keep its lead over its predecessor Thor: Ragnarok, which had a lower opening ($123 million) and lower weekday grosses but was much better received (A CinemaScore, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and ultimately had a 2.56x multiplier. Ragnarok dropped 54% for a second weekend gross of $57 million and post second weekend cume of $212 million. Even with a large drop, Love and Thunder would still likely beat that ten day cume, but it could fall behind in the weeks ahead. With that said, if it matches Multiverse of Madness’ 2.19x multiplier, we’re looking at a finish of $315.7 million, just ahead of Ragnarok’s $315.1 million cume.

In second place, we will see Minions: The Rise of Gru, which is running incredibly close to the first Minions with a 12 day cume of $225 million compared to its predecessor’s $230 million. Minions dropped 54% in its third weekend, grossing $22.9 million, and a similar weekend three is expected of Rise of Gru.

In third place will either come Top Gun: Maverick, which just passed $600 million, or one of the two new studio releases. Paramount and Nickelodeon’s animated Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is opening in 3,400 locations, with Thursday previews beginning at 3pm. Paws of Fury is an official remake of Blazing Saddles, transplanting Mel Brooks’ classic western-comedy to an imaginary animal-populated East where a dog (voiced by Michael Cera) learns the ways of the samurai from a cat sensei (Samuel L. Jackson) and protects a town of cats from an evil cat (Ricky Gervais) who plans to wipe the town out. The large voice cast also includes Mel Brooks, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, and Michelle Yeoh. Reviews for the Kung Fu Panda-esque toon are so-so (67% on Rotten Tomatoes), and the buzz is soft here, but the stakes are low for the $45 million budgeted film which Paramount picked up for $10 million. The film’s international rollout is happening piecemeal over the coming months.

With a bit more buzz is Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the 2018 literary mystery novel by Delia Owens which sold 12 million copies, making it one of the best selling novels of the past decade. The adaptation, which is produced by Reese Witherspoon and her Hello Sunshine company, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya, a girl growing up in the mid-20th century in North Carolina’s marshland who gets accused of the murder of young football player. The reviews are poor (29% on Rotten Tomatoes), but lackluster reviews didn’t stop The Girl on the Train (44% on Rotten Tomatoes) from becoming a hit ($75.4 million domestic, $173 million worldwide). We won’t see those numbers from Crawdads, but it could do well enough to recover its $24 million budget. It’s playing in 3,625 theaters and also has Thursday previews beginning at 3pm. Boosting the film’s profile to its young female audience is an original song from Taylor Swift.

Also going wide (well, wider on 153 screens) is A24’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, which has become one of the season’s few arthouse successes, grossing over $1 million over the past three weeks with a maximum screen count of just 48 theaters so far. The hybrid live action/stop motion mockumentary from writer-director Dean Fleischer Camp is about a mollusk searching for its family. The film, which is based on a series of YouTube shorts, premiered at Telluride last fall and has received rave reviews (99% on Rotten Tomatoes). Jenny Slate, who co-wrote the film, voices the titular Marcel, and the cast also includes Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, and Isabella Rossellini.

Notable in specialty box office is Focus Features’ charming British comedy Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, playing in 978 theaters. The film is about a maid (Lesley Manville) in 1950s London who goes to Paris to fulfill her dream of buying a couture Dior dress. Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Ellen Thomas, and Jason Isaacs co-star. Critics are loving the feel-good film, which is currently at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also getting a limited release is Netflix’ huge budget "The Gray Man" from Anthony and Joe Russo. The spy thriller stars Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas and is opening in 450 theaters a week ahead of its streaming release.