SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME won the box office battle for the sixth time in the seven weekends since it opened, by grossing $11M and dropping only 21% from last weekend. Unfortunately for exhibitors, this is an extremely low gross to land at number one, with studios offering no new wide openings. SCREAM finished second with $7.4M and a total to-date of $62M after 17 days in theatres. The horror remake is the only film to open in 2022 that has drawn a reasonable audience, while THE 355, REDEEMING LOVE and THE KING’S DAUGHTER have all underperformed.
In fact, the box office has been so sparse that the total gross for all films this weekend was only $36M. We have to look back eight months to find the last weekend with lower grosses, with $20M coming in on the weekend of 5/21-5/23. The current weekend was a paltry 36% of the same weekend in 2019. Why has the industry lost momentum on the road to recovery?
At first glance, the most obvious answer is the chilling effect that the Omicron COVID-19 variant has had on moviegoing. However, this theory has been largely refuted by the Morning Consult survey of consumer attitudes, indicating that comfort in going to the movies is approaching pandemic highs.
Moreover, we have witnessed record-breaking results from SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME from its opening only six weeks ago, as Omicron was surging. On the other hand, we cannot dispute the fact that studios have been spooked by the variant and adjusted their release schedules. MORBIUS was originally scheduled to open this weekend and would have had a clear field to attract moviegoers, but Sony decided to push it off to 4/1. April fools! With such a meager product in the market, we are left with these anemic results. It’s a Catch-22: nothing is performing because nothing new of interest is showing.
Another factor to consider is the lure of the NFL playoffs, which has kept people at home and watching football in record numbers over the last three weeks. The Kansas City Chiefs – Buffalo Bills game last Sunday, 1/23 drew an audience of 43 million viewers and was the highest-rated divisional playoff game in the last five years. The entire playoff round through last Sunday is up a very healthy 27% over last year and the full lineup of games on both Saturday and Sunday certainly contributed to the box office slump.
Next week, theatres will finally receive two new pictures that have a chance to compete, with the opening of JACKASS FOREVER and MOONFALL. Both are tracking well, and the NFL is taking the weekend off in the buildup to Super Bowl LVI on 2/13.