NEW YORK — On an extraordinarily crowded weekend in theaters featuring the expensive Viking epic and Nicolas Cage playing himself, DreamWorks Animation’s “The Bad Guys” beat the field, signaling a continued resurgence for family films after a downturn during the pandemic.
“The Bad Guys,” released by Comcast’s CMCSA,
Universal Pictures, debuted with $24 million in ticket sales in the US and Canada, according to studio estimates Sunday. It came despite fierce competition for the family from Paramount Pictures,
“Sonic The Hedgehog 2,” which remained in second place with $15.2 million its third week of release. So far it has grossed $145.8 million domestically.
The apparent health of watching family movies is especially good news for Hollywood as it enters a lucrative summer when films like Universal’s “Minions: Rise of Gru” and Walt Disney Co. — the first Pixar film to open in theaters. in two years — hoping to approach pre-pandemic levels.
“There’s more reason to be optimistic than cautious,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s head of distribution. “I think audiences this summer will flood the theaters.”
While studios were hesitant to program many of each other’s films during the pandemic, the weekend saw a rarity: three new broad releases, all well-received, none a sequel or remake.
“The Bad Guys,” based on Aaron Blabey’s series of children’s graphic novels about a group of twisted animals with Quentin Tarantino-for-kids tunes, fared well with critics (85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (an “A” CinemaScore). ). With little family rivalry until the release of “Lightyear” in mid-June, “The Bad Guys” would do well for weeks. After its first overseas debut, the animated film has grossed $63.1 million internationally.
Other new releases over the weekend — Robert Eggers’ “The Northman” and Cage’s “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” — didn’t do well but still fared pretty solidly in their first weekend.
“Every weekend is a building block in recovery, but I don’t even want to call it recovery. I think cinema is recovering. We’re pretty much there,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for ComScore. “The three newcomers were all well received, and all of them found an audience.”
The risk was greatest for Focus Features’ “The Northman,” whose budget swelled to over $70 million, a huge increase in scale for Eggers, director of previous indie historical horror films “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse.” The film’s path to profitability was unlikely even before it hit theaters, but it opened with higher expectations with $12 million in ticket sales. It added $6.3 million internationally in 26 territories.
“The Northman” stars Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicole Kidman in a brutal and bloody revenge story.
“First and foremost, we wanted to work with Robert Eggers,” said Lisa Bunnell, head of distribution for Focus, which handled international distribution for the first two Eggers films. “The key here is that we have to make the films we want to make with filmmakers that we feel are part of the future of American cinema. He has a very distinctive voice. He’s making films with real IPs, not just going in: ‘Let’s make a sequel!’”
Meanwhile, a new installment in the once-powerful brand, Harry Potter spinoff “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” is falling off a cliff in its second weekend in theaters. The Warner Bros. release, the third “Fantastic Beasts” film, fell 67% in its second week at $14 million. That bodes badly for the franchise’s future, if it is continued by Warner Bros. Discovery WBD,
(The studio has so far delayed giving the go-ahead for a fourth film.) However, “Secrets of Dumbledore,” last week’s top film, performed better overseas. International sales of $213.2 million made up the bulk of the film’s global revenue of $280.3 million.
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“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” a gonzo meta comedy starring Cage as an exaggerated version of himself, opened with an estimated $7.2 million. The film, which first released to rave reviews from South by Southwest, will rely on good word of mouth to approach the net of a $30 million budget.
That’s the kind of success “Everything Everywhere at Once” has. The release of A24, a crazy fantasy metaverse starring Michelle Yeoh, has been one of the brightest signs for the specialty film business, another sector of the industry struggling theatrically during the pandemic. In its fifth week, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” grossed $5.4 million, down just 12% from the previous week.
But the biggest breakthrough in theaters this April is to see family movies. It’s a great time for the film industry, which this week will gather in Las Vegas for CinemaCon, the annual convention and trade show for the Trumpet theater show. Expect many proclamations that cinema has returned.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday in US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “The Bad Guys,” $24 million.
2. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $15.2 million.
3. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” $14 million.
4. “The Northman”, $12 million.
5. “The Unbearable Weight of Great Talent,” $7.2 million.
6. “Everything Everywhere at Once,” $5.4 million.
7. “The Lost City”, $4.4 million.
8. “Father Stu,” $3.4 million.
9. “Morbius,” $2.3 million.
10. “Ambulance,” $1.8 million.