‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Opens On A Quiet Weekend
The current state of the box office can best be described as polarized. On one hand, last weekend was the lowest grossing weekend at the box office since June, and if it drops further this weekend it could be the lowest since May. On the other hand, we’re witnessing a dream run for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which opened better than expected and is now holding better than expected. It is on the cusp of passing its fellow Marvel blockbuster Black Widow as the year’s top grosser, and by the end of the weekend should be nearing $200 million. The overall market may be slumping, but individual films are still shining.

The international box office also looks promising, with Dune smashing expectations overseas with its $37 million opening weekend, mostly in Europe. China is back to being a lucrative market for Hollywood as well, with Free Guy’s $89 million gross there making up nearly 30% of the film’s $303 million global cume. While many of the year’s biggest films may be missing out on a China release altogether, most notably Black Widow and Shang-Chi, things are looking up as release dates have been given for Dune (October 22, day and date with the U.S.) and No Time To Die (October 29).

While we are in for another slow weekend, we are just a week away from entering what could become the biggest month yet this year. October gives us four weekends in a row of potential blockbusters with Venom: Let There Be Carnage, No Time To Die, Halloween Kills, and Dune, with the new Venom and James Bond films being theatrical exclusive. The twists and turns of the pandemic make it hard to predict the box office, but Shang-Chi has proved that there is still a big audience for the theatrical experience with the right film, especially if that film is not also available for streaming.

This weekend could see Shang-Chi spend its fourth weekend at number one, which would make it the first film to pull off such a feat since Tenet, which similarly opened over Labor Day weekend and had the month of September largely to itself. If it drops this weekend in the range of its second and third weekends, we’re looking at a $10-14 million gross. Shang-Chi has a good chance of passing Bad Boys for Life’s $206 million gross next week, which will make it the highest grossing film domestically since 2019.

Competing for the top spot and the only major newcomer this weekend is Dear Evan Hansen from Universal, opening on 3,300 screens. Based on the hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a teenage boy, the titular Evan Hansen (played by Ben Platt who also portrayed the character on stage), who has social anxiety and has to cope with all of the trials and tribulations of high school, and then some. It is directed by Stephen Chbosky, who has a feel for this sort of material, having previously written and directed Perks of Being a Wallflower (based on his own book) and Wonder (which grossed $132 million). Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, and Amandla Stenberg co-star.

The screenplay is by Steven Levenson, who wrote the book for the stage musical, and the songs are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who did the songs for The Greatest Showman (and a lot of the lyrics in La La Land). The stage musical was a huge success commercially and critically. It won six Tony awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Performance By A Leading Actor for Ben Platt. Despite the show’s critical acclaim, the film is being panned, with 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is in contrast to the high praise received by Chbosky’s other films as well as the recent Broadway adaptation In The Heights. In The Heights was seen as an underperformer with its $11.5 million opening, but that would be a solid if optimistic comp for Dear Evan Hansen.

It’s a quieter than usual week at the specialty box office. Acclaimed German AI rom-com I’m Your Man is getting a release from Bleecker Street. Searchlight is expanding the Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield starrer The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which opened to $652k last weekend on 450 screens. Rialto is re-releasing Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic Breathless (À bout de souffle), and Affirm is doing a 10th anniversary re-release of Courageous, the hit faith based indie from the Kendrick Brothers which grossed $34.5 million in its original release. The re-release has been re-edited with newly shot scenes and a 4k remaster.