On a very rare occasion, it appears we have as the networks like to say on election night “a race that is too close to call”. In a battle to be declared the winner of this weekend’s box office COMSCORE has projected a three-day gross for both ELVIS and TOP GUN: MAVERICK at $30.5M By grossing $30.5M, ELVIS met the lower range of its pre-release projections but the Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic focused on the Rock and Roll icon connected with fans by scoring a 93% favorable Rotten Tomatoes rating with audiences.
Critics were somewhat less enthralled, coming in at a 79% score. However, there has been an abundance of praise for both Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as his manager Colonel Tom Parker. Both their performances have begun buzzing as worthy of Academy Award nominations.
Recently, Hollywood has been on a roll with a series of high-profile biopics of famous rock icons. Both BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY in 2018 and ROCKETMAN in 2019 sparked similar talk, with Rami Malek going on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury from Queen. One can’t help but compare these films, with ELVIS finishing above ROCKETMAN’s $26M debut but well behind BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY’s $51M. That would set ELVIS on a possible $100M trajectory for its total domestic run.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK continued its incredible flight with a $30.5M gross for the weekend and tied ELVIS for first place. By dropping only 32%, the film has accumulated $532M through its 5 weeks in theatres and with July 4th weekend just ahead, Tom Cruise’s Maverick shows no sign of letting up any time soon. It’s vanishingly rare for a movie to bring in anything close to these numbers in its fifth weekend, second only to AVATAR’s $43M in its fifth frame.
JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION picked up third with a gross of $26.4M and a drop of 55% from last weekend. Fourth place went to THE BLACK PHONE with $23.4M in its opening weekend. LIGHTYEAR finished fifth with 17.7M after suffering a very un- PIXAR-like drop of 65% in its second weekend.
This was the first weekend in nearly three years when each of the top five pictures grossed over $16M, with the last such achievement coming over the weekend of September 20-22 in 2019 when the top five were: Downton Abbey, Ad Astra, Rambo: Last Blood, It Chapter Two and Hustlers. This is yet another strong indication that moviegoers from all demographics have left their couches behind and returned to the theatre.
However, in an industry that has become hooked on blockbusters, the same weekend in 2019 was led by the opening of TOY STORY 4 which earned $121M. This weekend, all films together added up to only an estimated $135M which is 67% of the same weekend in 2019. Exhibitors are hoping for blockbuster returns again over the next two weekends, with the release of MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU on 7/1 and THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER on 7/8.
On a smaller scale, we always like to highlight independent films enjoying success at the box office. Recently, we followed A24’s EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE starting with a limited debut on ten screens but with a $50K per-screen average. Based on this early success, it gradually expanded to an impressive run on 2,200 North American screens and has produced an amazing $66M to date. A24 may be on the road to repeat that success, with MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON which opened this weekend on six screens in NY and LA, generating $169K for a per-theatre average of $28,268. While this is lower than EVERYWHERE, we will keep a close eye on MARCEL to where it goes from here.