Theaters and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad end of summer continues at the box office.
With no major releases on the calendar, Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — yes, a movie opening in December 2021 — managed to return to the No. 1 spot in North America over the Labor Day weekend.
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Sony re-released the film with 11 minutes of extra footage that proved enticing to some comic book fans, bringing in $6 million from 3,935 theaters over the weekend. “No Way Home” is expected to finish the extended holiday weekend on Monday with $7.6 million.
Another plus, Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” trails with $5.5 million Friday through Sunday and an estimated $7 million through Monday. Since ticket sales are close, the final order may change on Monday. In any case, the triumph of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Top Gun: Maverick” highlights the bleak landscape at the box office, given that both of these films are widely available for home entertainment.
Even in second place, it’s a heroic weekend for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which is playing at 3,113 venues in its 15th weekend of release. The hit sequel has grossed $700.33 million to date, making it one of only six films to ever cross that mark domestically. Also, Tom Cruise’s latest film is minutes away from dethroning “Black Panther” and its $700.42 million total as the fifth-highest-grossing release in domestic box office history.
With the re-release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has now grossed $812.3 million in North America, solidifying its position as the third highest-grossing film in domestic box office history. To Sony to cleverly exploit the desert landscape of cinema. But it could also help any studio, you know, actually release a movie over the holiday weekend.
To be fair, Focus Features opened a new movie nationwide, but it debuted day after day on streaming so hardly anyone showed up in theaters. “Shout for Jesus. Save Your Soul.,” a mega-church satire starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown, dropped to No. 14 with $1.44 million from 1,882 theaters. NBCUniversal, the studio’s parent company, did not disclose streaming metrics. By Monday, it is expected to reach $1.75 million. Lucky for Focus Features, which picked up the well-reviewed film at the Sundance Film Festival for $8.5 million, its hybrid release at the Peacock will help alleviate the film’s dismal theatrical run.
“The reviews are very good, but the movie doesn’t connect theatrically,” says David A. Gross, who runs the film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. “Over the past two years, movies that were released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming have not underperformed at the box office. That’s part of what’s going on.”
Surprisingly, given that the country’s top two movies were months apart, this Saturday ranked as the highest-grossing day of the year according to the National Association of Theater Owners. That’s because Sept. 3 was National Movie Day, which brought out an estimated 8.1 million people as more than 3,000 theaters across the country slashed admission. Participants, including major chains like AMC and Regal, charged just $3 for any movie in any format — far less expensive than the national average ticket price.
Deeply discounted prices may have boosted attendance (and popcorn sales), but they didn’t do much to boost overall revenue during the traditionally slow Labor Day weekend. In 2021, Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” set a Labor Day weekend record with $94 million. This year, the box office tally for each film in theaters is approaching $50 million. Of course, it’s harder than usual to compare because of Saturday’s fall.
“With National Film Day, we wanted to do something to celebrate cinema,” said Film Foundation President Jackie Breneman. “This event exceeded our highest expectations. The idea of the day was to thank moviegoers for an amazing summer and now we have to thank them for this amazing day.”
Given the domestic box office wilderness, holders “Bullet Train,” “DC League of Super-Pets” and “The Invitation” rounded out the top five on the box office charts.
Sony’s “Bullet Train” aims for third place with $5.4 million from 3,117 locations, down just 10% from last weekend. For the four-day holiday weekend, it is expected to bring in $6.8 million. After five weeks of release, Brad Pitt’s ‘Bullet Train’ has grossed $86.6 million to date.
There’s also a chance Warner Bros.’s animated “DC League of Super-Pets” could take the No. 3 spot. Based on estimates, the family film added $5.4 million from 3,115 locations and looks to close out the holiday weekend on Labor Day with about $6 million. So far, “DC League of Super-Pets” has earned $80.9 million.
And finally, “The Invitation,” which topped the box office last weekend, dropped to fifth place with $4.7 million from 3,114 theaters. Through Monday, it is expected to earn $5.7 million, bringing ticket sales to $14.7 million.
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