As bad as the overall box office climate has been, there have still been glittery high points that show us that audiences are eager to show up if the content is there. The best example of that in the past two weeks is Smile, which opened to a solid $22.6 million last weekend and followed it up with a phenomenal $17.6 million, winning the weekend again as it dropped just 22%. This is the year’s best second weekend hold and it is among the best ever for a horror film. With a cume of $49.9 million, Smile is running ahead of the year’s highest grossing horror movie The Black Phone, which had $47.4 million after ten days and went on to gross $89.9 million. Overseas the holds are even better, with holdover markets actually going up by 20% this weekend. The global cume is now $89.9 million off a $17 million budget. Remember that Smile was very nearly a Paramount+ title, only getting the go ahead for a theatrical release after a strong response from test screenings. This decision turned out to be a great one for Paramount and for cinemas as it is in the process of becoming the biggest hit of the dry spell.
Unfortunately, there’s not much else at the box office to feel good about this weekend, with the newcomers having especially disappointing showings. Despite being the only family film since July, audiences simply weren’t biting for Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile which debuted in second place with $11.5 million from 4,350 theaters. Sony’s $50 million crocodile musical has the hot songwriting team Pasek and Paul providing the tunes and Shawn Mendes providing the singing voice for the CG reptile. It’s an underwhelming start, but it could still hold well and it will remain the go-to kid-friendly film until Thanksgiving. Though it opened smaller than last year’s Clifford the Big Red Dog (which had a $16.6 million opening), it could see a similar finish, and that film got to $48.9 million domestically and $107 million worldwide. That wouldn’t be great given the budget, but it wouldn’t be a disaster either.
For a bonafide disaster, look to this weekend’s third-placer Amsterdam. The $80 million budgeted period piece from writer/director David O. Russell will go down as one of the year’s biggest flops as it opened to a mere $6.5 million from 3,005 theaters including IMAX and other premium large format screens. Despite the star power (Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington are in the lead roles and the large supporting cast includes Chris Rock, Taylor Swift, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro, to name just a few) and the lavish production values, the offbeat film was always going to be a tough sell, and it’s the sort that would have been driven a lot by killer reviews and awards buzz. Unfortunately, critics had little love for the film, with only 33% of critics rating it positively on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences didn’t hate it (B CinemaScore), but it would still take a miracle to get anywhere near breaking even. Whatever hope there may have been for the international numbers to save it has turned out to be false, and in roughly half of its international footprint it opened to just $3.5 million.
Fourth place went to The Woman King, which continues its strong holds, down just 22% in its fourth weekend with $5.3 million. The cume is now $54.1 million. It is going more slowly abroad, with $10 million from 34 markets so far, but the holds are also great for the potential Oscar contender in its limited number of holdover territories where it dropped 21% this weekend. It’s still not clear how much it will catch on outside the U.S., but even with a domestic heavy finish it looks likely to double the $50 million budget and make it into the nine digit returns.
Don't Worry Darling completes the top five with $3.48 million, which is down 49% from last weekend. The domestic cume after three weeks is $38.5 million. The numbers aren’t great, especially after the solid $19.4 million opening, but with a global cume of $69.3 million, it has now roughly doubled its $35 million budget.
This weekend also saw the year’s second best per theater average with Tár, which marks director Todd Field’s return to cinema after over 15 years. The Cate Blanchett-starrer opened to $160k from four locations (that’s $40k per theater) spread between New York and Los Angeles, and Focus will bring it to 30 new locations next weekend and continue expanding it in the weeks that follow as it hopefully rides a wave of exceptional critical praise (97%), word of mouth, and awards buzz.
The other strong per theater average this weekend came from Triangle of Sadness, which grossed $210k from 10 theaters for an average of $21k. The Palme d'Or winning film is the first English-language feature from director Ruben Östlund.