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411 Box Office Report: The Woman King Wins The Weekend, Barbarian Holds Well

September 18, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Viola Davis The Woman King Image Credit: Ilze Kitshoff/Sony Pictures

Viola Davis scored a box office win this weekend as The Woman King topped the charts. The historical action drama easily nailed down the #1 spot with a $19 million start, performing right at expectations and scoring the weekend gross since Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero won the weekend with $21.2 million four weeks ago. It’s the best opening for a Davis-led film since Suicide Squad back in 2016 (we’re not counting last August’s The Suicide Squad, in which Davis had a smaller role than the first film) and director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s best start behind the camera to date.

The Woman King was expected to perform around this range, in part because of its buzzy opening at TIFF earlier this month and in part because of the critical buzz surrounding the film. It was a hit with critics, scoring a 94% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. And while there was some pushback online over the last week over concerns about how film would despite the Kingdom of Dahomey’s involvement in the slave trade, that doesn’t seem to have had any real impact. Moviegoers loved the film, which has a rare A+ CinemaScore and a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, both of which helped contribute to great holds throughout the weekend.

While this is a very solid start to the film, the question is whether it can find a road to profit. The movie cost a reported $50 million to produce, requiring that it will need to show good holds in the coming weeks as well as some strength overseas. It has yet to open internationally, but stateside it should be able to gross at least $60 million to $65 million and perhaps more of the buzz holds. Once overseas numbers come in, it should end up being a mildly profitable venture for Sony Pictures, especially if it can build buzz for a Best Actress nomination for Davis (and then benefit from an award season re-release).

Last week’s winner Barbarian slipped to #2 but held on well. The horror film grossed $6.3 million, off 40% which is very solid for the genre. The positive reception for this film (92% on RT) is paying off, and thus far the 20th Century Studios film has $20.9 million domestically and $21.9 million worldwide. It’s well on the road to profit against its $10.5 million budget and looks likely to close out at around $35 million domestically, letting the Disney-owned studio count this as a win.

A24’s Pearl opened at #3 with $3.1 million. The film, a prequel to March’s 1970s-set slasher X, opened a little bit below that film’s $4.3 million take but still started respectably enough for a movie that only cost $1 million. Pearl was shot in secret back to back with X which allowed the studio to keep costs down on both (X also cost just $1 million), meaning that this is a nicely profitable movie already.

Pearl is another well-received horror film, with an 87% RT score and an 82% audience rating alongside a B- CinemaScore. The latter is pretty decent for horror, which traditionally averages in the high C range. A24 has another film in the franchise on the way with the X direct sequel MaXXXine in production, and it’s not hard to see why as these may not be blockbusters but they are pulling in profits with ease. Pearl should be able to tally up around $10 million by the time it ends its run, which will be a nice little profit.

Searchlight Pictures’ See How They Run opened at #4 with $3.1 million. The crime comedy overperformed its low expectations, thanks to moderately decent reviews (70% on RT) and a lack of comedic competition in the marketplace.

The Sam Rockwell-led ensemble film has added another $4.5 million overseas for a solid $7.6 million worldwide start. There’s no word on the film’s budget, but it should be able to finish off in the $10 million range domestically which is an okay goal for a modest movie like this.

We finally hit some holdovers at #5, where Bullet Train scored $2.5 million. That’s down a mere 24% for this action comedy, which has shown itself to have some good box office strength. The Brad Pitt-led film now has $96.4 million domestically and $222.1 million worldwide, making it likely profitable against its $85 million budget. It should be able to close out its domestic run at just over $100 million, a fine result.

Top Gun: Maverick finally began to fade last weekend, and that continued this frame as it slipped 31% to $2.2 million after 17 weeks. The action sequel has $709.1 million domestically and $1.463 billion worldwide and is of course a megahit against its $170 million budget. It should finish off around $715 million.

DC League of Super Pets is also benefitting from great holds and a lack of competition, as it slipped just 18% in its eighth weekend to $2.2 million. The animated film is now at $87.9 million domestically and $177.6 million worldwide, making it on its way to profit even with a $90 million budget. It should be able to end its domestic run around $95 million, which is a great finish for a film that opened at just $23 million in late July.

The Invitation has slipped down the charts quicker than much of the rest of the top 10, but it still held on decently despite plenty of horror competition with $1.7 million in its fourth frame. That’s a drop of 36% from last weekend. The Sony Pictures release now has $21.5 million domestically and $30.1 million, making it nicely profitable for its studio against a $10 million budget. The film should end around $28 million stateside, quite good considering it started with just $6.8 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru was down 24% in its 12th weekend with $1.3 million. The animated prequel/sequel has $364.1 domestically and $913.2 million worldwide, creeping its way toward the #1 domestic spot for the Despicable Me and Minions franchise (currently held by Despicable Me 2’s $368.1 million). It has a decent shot at accomplishing that and is obviously a massive hit against its $80 million production budget plus marketing.

The final spot in the top 10 was taken by Moonage Daydream. The David Bowie documentary from Neon and Brett Morgen took in $1.2 million, easily the highest weekend for a documentary in 2022 and the best start for such a film since Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain launched to $2 million in July of 2021. Moonage Daydream is going over like gangbusters with critics (a 90% RT average) and critics are digging it too at an 81% audience score. Most documentaries slip out off the charts pretty quickly, but this one has already done well and should be profitable when all revenue streams are counted in.

Next weekend should see a new #1 as Olivia Wilde’s much gossiped-about Don’t Worry Darling opens to an expected $20 million-plus. Also making a splash next weekend will be the re-release of Avatar as Disney preps for the sequel’s arrival in December. The re-release is projected to take in around $8 million to $10 million.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. The Woman King – $19 million ($19 million total, $19 million WW)
2. Barbarian – $6.3 million ($20.9 million total, $21.9 million WW)
3. Pearl – $3.1 million ($3.1 million total, $3.1 million WW)
4. See How They Run – $3.1 million ($3.1 million total, $7.6 million WW)
5. Bullet Train – $2.5 million ($96.4 million total, $221.1 million WW)
6. Top Gun: Maverick – $2.2 million ($709.1 million total, $1.463 billion WW)
7. DC League of Super-Pets – $2.2 million ($87.9 million total, $177.6 million WW)
8. The Invitation – $1.7 million ($21.5 million total, $30.1 million total WW)
9. Minions: The Rise of Gru – $1.3 million ($364.1 million total, $913.2 million WW)
10. Moonage Daydream – $1.2 million ($1.2 million total, $1.2 million WW)