Consider this weekend the calm before the storm.
“Black Adam,” a comic book adventure starring Dwayne Johnson, loomed over box office charts for the third weekend in a row with $18.5 million in North American ticket sales. It was another quiet period at the movies as theater operators eagerly await Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which looks to invigorate the lackluster fall box office when it opens on Nov. 11.
After three weeks of release, “Black Adam” has generated $137.3 million and $319 million globally. It’s a solid result, one that improves greatly upon another recent DC spinoff, 2021’s “The Suicide Squad” (which tapped out with $168 million globally while playing simultaneously on HBO Max in North America) and it’ll soon pass 2019’s Shazam” (which earned 366 million worldwide). However, the latest Warner Bros. standalone superhero story still has ways to go to justify its massive $195 million production budget.
In second place, a new anime film titled “One Piece Film Red” collected $9.475 million from 2,367 North American theaters. It’s another modest win for Crunchyroll, a specialty anime label, following recent anime releases like “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” ($38 million domestically) and “Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” ($34 million domestically). Since those films carry relatively small production and marketing budgets, they don’t need to break box office records to rationalize their price tags.
“Sony-owned Crunchyroll has built a very popular business for their Japanese anime,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “It’s impressive.”
“Ticket to Paradise,” a romantic comedy with Julia Roberts and George Clooney, landed at the No. 3 spot with $8.5 million from 4,066 venues, dropping just 14% in its third weekend. The film has generated $46.7 million to date and looks to continue its crowd-pleasing run through the rest of fall. Despite the challenges facing rom-coms at the box office, “Ticket to Paradise” has managed to defy expectations (thanks, of course, to the combined charm of Roberts and Clooney) with $90.4 million at the international box office and $137 million worldwide. Universal spent $60 million on the movie.
At the No. 4 spot, Paramount’s surprise hit “Smile” generated $4 million from 3,046 cinemas, bringing its domestic tally to $99 million. As the psychological horror film nears the $100 million mark in North America, “Smile” crossed $200 million globally — a stellar tally for a $17 million-budgeted film.
Lionsgate’s supernatural thriller “Prey for the Devil” rounded out the top five with $3.87 million from 2,980 locations, a 48% from from its debut. Through Sunday, the low-budget film has generated a lackluster $13.64 million.
Outside of the top five, the buzzy slasher film “Terrifier 2” continued to impress, landing in 10th place with $1.2 million from 1,245 cinemas over the weekend. The independent movie, which is produced by Bloody Disgusting and distributed by Iconic Releasing, is already wildly profitable since it has grossed $9.8 million on its $250,000 budget.
At No. 7, director Martin McDonough’s “The Banshees of Inisherin,” an Irish-set film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as life-long friends at an impasse,” earned $2 million from 895 theaters. As the Searchlight film expands slowly, it has grossed $3 million to date.
In eighth place, “Till” stayed steady with $1.875 million from 2,136 screens. The emotional biopic, featuring Danielle Deadwyler as the mother of Emmett Till, has generated $6.5 million after four weeks of release, a decent result in today’s age for a drama aimed at adult audiences.
Another specialty title, James Gray’s semi-autobiographical “Armageddon Time,” struggled to break out as it expanded to 1,006 venues. The Focus Features film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong, brought back $810,000 — translating to a bleak $802 per location. So far, “Armageddon Time” has generated $902,000.
Overall, the box office brought in a sluggish $59.4 million over the weekend, according to Comscore. Even with the surprise success of “Smile” and better-than-expected turnouts for “Black Adam” and “Ticket to Paradise,” movie theater owners are needing a blockbuster (or two) to carry them through the winter. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to the billion-dollar smash, should deliver on the goods, with box office experts predicting an opening weekend between $175 million to $200 million.
“Next weekend,” Franchise Entertainment Research’s Gross says, “business returns to world-class form with the opening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”