The late summer box office drought of 2022 entered its fourth week, with a 3-day North American gross for all films of only $52.7M. We have not seen this slow pace in moviegoing since January when the weekend total for 1/28 – 1/30 was a mere $35M. Sony’s horror suspense film THE INVITATION opened with $7.0M, which was good enough for first place but the lowest grossing #1 movie since 2021 when SPIRAL took the top spot in its second week from 5/21-5/23 2021.
The low turnout this weekend breaks a 15-month streak of the weekend champion earning a minimum of $10M. The only other wide opener was THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING, which brought in a very soft $2.9M only good for seventh place. This fantastical version of the genie in a bottle story was directed by George Miller, famous for his work on the MAD MAX trilogy. There was hope that his devoted fan base would be intrigued and turn out for THREE THOUSAND, but evidently, the appeal did not transfer.
Adding insult to injury, both of last weekend’s first and second-place finishers experienced horrific drops from their opening weekends. DRAGON BALL SUPER: SUPER HERO dropped an unseemly 78% to land at $4.6M to finish in fifth place. The original film in the franchise, DRAGON BALL SUPER: BROLY, dropped 69% on its second weekend in 2018 but that even looks good in retrospect.
Last weekend’s second place finisher BEAST also dropped steeply by 58%, earning only $4.9M in its second weekend to finish in third place. Audiences gave it a decent 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that was not enough to translate to box office buzz and maintain ticket sales. Rounding out the top five were the second place finish of BULLET TRAIN with $5.6M and the ever-present TOP GUN: MAVERICK which grossed $4.8M to finish fourth.
One bright spot in the weekend was the strong per-screen showing off the limited re-release of the ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. It earned $1.1M at the box office while playing at only 255 locations, amounting to a healthy $4,314 per theatre average take. A series of limited re-releases will light up movie theatre screens through September, as studios try to make up for the lack of new first-run products. These classics will include JAWS on 9/2 and AVATAR and SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME on 9/23.
Even though we are already four weekends into the drought, we still have 54 more days to go until the next sure-fire blockbuster arrives. DC Comics’ BLACK ADAM opens on 10/21, starring Duane Johnson. It may take the return of The Rock to the big screen to bring audiences back to cinemas in numbers.