Still struggling with a protracted movie drought, this week’s top earner at the box office was BARBARIAN which grossed $10M on its opening weekend. Exhibitors only barely avoided a third consecutive weekend with the #1 movie not able to hit $10M in ticket sales. The plot of the 20th Century Studios horror flick centers on a double-booking gone wrong at an Airbnb rental.
BARBARIAN has garnered positive reviews, with a 92% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. It may also have staying power with moviegoers, who gave it a respectable 76% audience score. These scores are higher than that of the last major horror release, A24’s BODIES, BODIES, BODIES, which rated 85% and 69% respectively. Most forecasters expected BODIES to perform better than it wound up doing, but perhaps BARBARIAN will find a better track. As of late, new releases that have opened with disappointing numbers have also fallen off sharply in their second week. BARBARIANS will benefit from having no competition from other horror titles until HALLOWEEN ENDS opens on 10/14 in theatres… and streaming on Peacock.
The Indian action-adventure BRAHMASTRA PART ONE: SHIVA finished in second place with a gross of $4.4M at 810 locations, making for a tidy per theatre average of $5,432. This is quite an accomplishment for the Hindi-language film since Indian titles rarely make it into the top ten at the North American box office. Even major Bollywood titles usually play at no more than 300 theatres, and therefore cannot generate the box office results that Hollywood does with its wide releases.
In this case, BRAHMASTRA’s North American distributor Fox Star Studios was able to sign up many more exhibitors, who are desperate to find quality new movies while Hollywood is offering so few new titles. During this period, studios are trying to plug the new movie gap by re-releasing a number of Hollywood hits, including last year’s SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME and Steven Spielberg’s 1975 summer classic JAWS, both released last week for Labor Day weekend. Disney is also lined up to re-release on 9/23 James Cameron’s original 2009 AVATAR, to help build excitement before the upcoming holiday release of the sequel, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER.
On Saturday, approximately 2 million moviegoers bought tickets at North American theatres, dramatically fewer than the 8.1 million who came out last Saturday for the first-ever National Cinema Day. This contrast is stark, underlining the success of the National Cinema Day promotion and its $3 movie tickets.