Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 28/07/23 – 30/07/23

Barbenheimer consigns Haunted Mansion to the graveyard, The First Slam Dunk bounces embarrassingly off the rim, and Other Box Office News.

Turns out Barbenheimer wasn’t just a meme we were all going to get out of our system in the first weekend before usual doom-and-gloom service resumed.  Barbie remaining #1 with a decent hold, anything around a 55% drop being considered par for the sophomore weekend of a film like this, was somewhat expected.  Barbie remaining #1 with a haul of $93 million, a mere 42% drop, which ranks as the seventh-best sophomore weekend of all-time (just ahead of The Super Mario Bros. Movie which is the only $80 mil+ opener this year to have a better percentage hold than Barbie), was less expected.

Oppenheimer holding on excellently despite otherwise being so out-of-step with what all cinemagoing trends would seem to indicate over the last few years, to such a degree that it’s the fourth-best sophomore hold in Nolan’s entire career despite opening far higher than its competition, is blindsiding.  For you stat-hounds: Oppenheimer’s 44% drop ($46.2 mil for the weekend) from an $82 mil opening is only bested by Interstellar (40% from a $47.5 mil opening), The Prestige (35% from a $14.8 mil opening so shouldn’t be in the conversation), and Inception (32% from a $62.7 mil opening).

READ MORE: Inanna (Emily H. Wilson) – Book Review

Now, I’m not outright saying Oppenheimer is on course to have an Inception level run, nor that Barbie is on course to dethrone Mario as 2023’s biggest film.  I’m just saying that both are indeed possible right now, particularly if studios keep shunting all their upcoming movies down the road instead of PAYING THEIR WRITERS AND ACTORS, YOU DUMB MOTHERFUCKERS.

Anyways, with Barbenheimer continuing to vaporise all in sight but in a way that’s actually good news for once in this column’s lengthy existence, things remain dire at The Mouse House in 2023.  Whether it’s Bob Iger trying to break the record for “furthest a man can shove his foot in his own mouth,” Disney+ vault-ing original productions which were barely available for a month, or yet another critical/financial underperformance at the Box Office plastered all over the front page of the trades, it’s been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad year.

And it’s not stopping either as their do-over of a Haunted Mansion adaptation got raked over the coals by critics and pretty much ignored by the general public.  $24.2 million for third place isn’t terrible, but the steady erosion of ticket buyers over those three days, particularly when Barbie and Oppenheimer managed to retain audience interest over that same period despite being a week older, is a bad sign for its long-term prospects.

READ MORE: Secret Invasion (Season 1) – TV Review

In more specialist news, it’s been a hot minute so here’s another A24 horror heavily inspired by Hereditary to win over critics and drive away audiences!  That said, whilst Talk to Me recorded an opening total in line with A24 horrors gone by ($10 mil dead for sixth place), its Cinemascore rating of “B+” is significantly higher than artsy horror of this kind usually rates with the public.  (For comparison, Hereditary bombed out with a “D+” back in the day.)  So, maybe there’s a chance for this one to have a long afterlife yet.

Hovering around just outside of the Top 10, Molly Gordon & Nick Lieberman’s love letter to that person who would always audition for the school play with a complex Sondheim number, Theater Camp, has been gradually working its way up to the nationwide stage after a showstopping opening.  In a lesser theatrical landscape, $635,000 from 295 screens (a PTA of $2,152) would be enough to crack the chart’s lowest reaches.

Lastly, it’s been a hot minute so here’s another anime spin-off movie to try its luck at the roulette wheel that is the American Box Office!  Unfortunately, despite smashing records in its native Japan, The First Slam Dunk just didn’t have the cultural cache to crossover in the US and it got dunked on to the tune of $625,561 from 581 screens (a PTA of $1,076) despite sports anime objectively being The Best.

Studios should stop being greedy, obstinate fucks and pay their writers, actors, and anyone else currently not on strike what they are owed.  Here’s the full list.

US Box Office Results: Friday 28th July 2023 – Sunday 30th July 2023

1] Barbie

$93,000,000 / $351,402,851

Seeing the success of a Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and written-directed by Greta Gerwig, then turning around to greenlight a Polly Pocket movie starring Lily Collins and written-directed by Lena Dunham is some real “you’ve seen the best-case scenario, now here’s how badly it could’ve gone!” shit.

2] Oppenheimer

$46,200,000 / $174,060,430

Sure, Oppenheimer may be one of the best films of the year, but does it feature demonic sharks fighting giant alligators?  No, it does not.  Ergo, it cannot be a better movie than Ouija Shark 2, which Shaun Rockwood wrote up in all its glory.

3] Haunted Mansion

$24,200,000 / NEW

And speaking of Disney PR blunders, they managed to turn what should’ve been a bittersweet but ultimately buzzy personnel change for their planned Lando Calrissian streaming series – Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien out as showrunner, Atlanta heads Donald & Stephen Glover in – into yet another own-goal by, err, not informing Simien he was gone beforehand, instead finding out when he read the news.  I don’t even have a semi-pithy joke to make here.  What the hell is going on over at Disney right now?

4] Sound of Freedom

$12,409,300 / $148,972,065

You know what the real sound of freedom is?  Another excellent Carly Rae Jepsen album, that’s what!  Her imperial phase shall continue until everyone else can get on her level!

5] Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

$10,725,000 / $139,233,033

All I’m saying is that we rightly pilloried SPECTRE in 2015 for casting Dave Bautista in a near-mute glorified henchman role with a bad two-on-one fight scene, noting it as a total waste of the man’s natural charisma and deceptive acting depth.  Yet when Mission: Impossible does the exact same thing to Pom Klementieff in 2023, suddenly y’all get real quiet?  Make it make sense.

6] Talk to Me

$10,028,632 / NEW

Please welcome back to the site once more Jenn Reid, dropping in after a while away to find out if the recently-released biographical history book about The Exorcist, which turns 50 in December, is worth a peruse!

7] Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

$4,000,000 / $167,084,867

Should be seeing this movie right when you’re able to read these words for the first time.  I hope it’s good!  All the other Indiana Jones films are to some degree or another!

8] Elemental

$3,400,000 / $144,983,672

In positive strike news, the East Coast arm of the Writers Guild of America have pledged to finally allow all animation writers to join their union ranks after the current strike ends.  Now, to be clear, this isn’t actually a guarantee – the WGA has looked down on animation writers for a long time, they only just pledged in writing in August last year to look into laying the groundwork, and WGA East animation co-chair Susan Kim only explicitly stated “we are circling back to animation” once the strike finishes.  But it is a start and the industry as a whole could do with this kind of medium solidarity in the face of exploitation from the upper-echelons.

9] Insidious: The Red Door

$3,175,000 / $78,081,584

Cineworld has officially entered administration.  Yes, I am greatly concerned.  A reminder that, even though audiences clearly want to go back to the cinema and we just had the biggest week in UK cinema history thanks to Barbenheimer, the theatrical exhibition landscape remains hovering over a cliff-edge.  If studios decide to do utterly dumbass shit like delay Dune: Part Two and blame it on the strike, they aren’t going to be hurting the strikers at all.  Just themselves, with the cinemas they rely on to stay afloat – cos those proprietary streaming services aren’t working out so hot, are they Universal – being brutally culled as collateral.

10] Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

$1,440,000 / $378,796,158

Programming note: no BOR next week.  The other editors want a week off from the grind and, to be honest, I don’t blame them.  We’ll still have articles going up on the site, including (hopefully) a review of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick I have been informed is excellent, but hot-off-the-presses stuff like my bullshit has to spend a week sat in the corner thinking about how much of a problem child it’s being for Mommy and Mommy.  Back in two weeks.  If Meg 2 is still in the Top 5 by then, I’ll be pleasantly astounded.

Dropped out: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, No Hard Feelings

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