The dog days of August can always bring a downturn in moviegoing, but this year is horrifyingly bad.
If estimates hold, Sony’s The Invitation will limp to No. 1 domestically with an opening in the $6 million to $7 million range after grossing $2.6 million on Friday from 3,114 theaters.
The horror film, which is doing best among younger females, has been largely dismissed by critics, while it earned a C CinemaScore from audiences (it actually isn’t unusual for horror fare to get a C grade).
George Miller’s new film Three Thousand Years of Longing, which made a splashy world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, opened to $1.2 million on Friday from 2,436 locations for a projected weekend gross of around $3 million for a seventh-place finish. The MGM and United Artists Releasing title had intended to open in far fewer theaters since it is more of a specialty title than a mainstream offering, but cinema operators urged UAR to let them book the film because of a lack of product overall.
Bleecker Street’s specialty movie Breaking opted to launch in 902 locations. Projections show the John Boyega thriller debuting to less than $1 million for a potential 15th place finish.
Back on the top 10 chart, Sony’s Bullet Train should come in second with around $5.5 million, followed by Top Gun: Maverick or Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero with a projected $5 million each.
Top Gun: Maverick now ranks at No. 9 on the all-time list of top-grossing films, not adjusted for inflation. Domestically, it will finish Sunday with more than $690 million in ticket sales.
Dragon Ball Super is looking at a steep fall of 75 percent or more after topping the chart last weekend with an impressive $20.1 million.
Beast, also starring Elba, is expected round out the top five at the box office this weekend with an estimated $4.3 million.
Overall revenue for the weekend at the domestic box office looks to come in at $54 million, the worst showing since February. Additionally, the weekend is down more than 16 percent from the same frame in 2021, when the COVID-19 delta variant was much more of an issue in terms of moviegoing. On the same weekend last year, the horror pic Candyman debuted to $22 million, while Free Guy remained a strong earner in its third weekend with $13.2 million.
Exhibitors have been bracing for a parched August calendar following a string of high-profile studio releases this spring and summer. The drought — due, at least in part, to post-production delays — will continue into September and the first part of October.
Mega-circuit Cineworld is citing the pressures of the content slowdown as one of the reasons it is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S., where it operates Regal Cinemas. Wall Street analysts and others counter that theater chains that aren’t debt-laden, as Cineworld is, are in a far better position to weather current circumstances.
Box office estimates will be updated Sunday morning.