Paramount’s cleverly promoted horror film Smile
may be full of terror and trauma, but it is the sole bright spot in the box office this weekend, opening to $22 million and coming in first place by a huge margin. The $17 million budgeted scarefest nabbed the best opening since Bullet Train
nearly two months ago, beating out bigger budget and more hyped titles such as The Woman King
and Don't Worry Darling
. This is all from a film that was once planned to go straight to Paramount+, only changing direction and ultimately getting a 3,645 theater launch after a strong response from test audiences. Time will tell if it has the legs that The Black Phone
had (grossing $89.9 million from a $23.6 million opening) and Barbarian
is having (opening to $10.5 million and now at $33.1 million after four weekends, and that’s off a budget of just $4 million), but this is a great opening even if it it plays like a more typically frontloaded horror film from here. The better than expected hold following its $8.2 million Friday-plus-previews gross bodes well for its long term potential, as do the pretty good reviews (75% on Rotten Tomatoes) and the not bad for a horror film B- CinemaScore. Internationally the film grossed an additional $14.5 million for a global cume of $36.5 million.