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The dog days of August can always bring a downturn in moviegoing, but this year is horrifyingly bad.
Sony’s The Invitation limped to No. 1 domestically with $7 million from 3,114 theaters in its opening, according to Sunday estimates. Overseas, it started off with $1.6 million from its first 19 markets, many of them smaller, for a global start of $8.6 million.
The horror film, which is doing best among younger females, has been largely dismissed by critics, while it earned a C CinemaScore from audiences (it isn’t unusual for horror fare to get a C grade).
George Miller’s new film Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, which made a splashy world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, opened to an estimated $2.9 million from 2,436 locations for a seventh-place finish. The MGM and United Artists Releasing title had intended to open in far fewer theaters since it is more of a specialty title than a mainstream offering, but cinema operators urged UAR to let them book the film, which earned lackluster reviews, because of a lack of product overall.
Bleecker Street’s specialty movie Breaking opted to launch in 902 locations. Projections show the John Boyega thriller debuting to an estimated $1.1 million for a potential 14th place finish.
Back on the top 10 chart, Sony’s Bullet Train came in second with $5.6 million, followed by Beast — also starring Idris Elba — with an estimated $4.9 million for a domestic total of $20.1 million and $36.2 million worldwide.
Top Gun: Maverick followed with $4.8 million. The Tom Cruise blockbuster now ranks ninth on the all-time list of top-grossing films, not adjusted for inflation. Domestically, it will finish Sunday with more than $691 million in ticket sales and a massive $1.42 billion globally.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero rounded out the top five with $4.7 million in its sophomore outing. The anime fell a steep 78 percent after topping the chart last weekend with an impressive $20.1 million. The film has grossed $30.8 million domestically and $50.7 million worldwide.
Overall revenue for the weekend at the domestic box office looks to come in at $51 million to $52 million, the worst showing since February. Additionally, the weekend is down more than 16 percent from the same frame in 2021, when the COVID-19 delta variant was much more of an issue in terms of moviegoing. On the same weekend last year, the horror pic Candyman debuted to $22 million, while Free Guy remained a strong earner in its third weekend with $13.2 million.
Exhibitors have been bracing for a parched August calendar following a string of high-profile studio releases this spring and summer. The drought — due, at least in part, to postproduction delays — will continue into September and the first part of October.
Mega-circuit Cineworld is citing the pressures of the content slowdown as one of the reasons it is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S., where it operates Regal Cinemas. Wall Street analysts and others counter that theater chains that aren’t debt-laden, as Cineworld is, are in a far better position to weather current circumstances.
This story was originally published on Aug. 27 at 12:27 p.m.
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