I certainly understand the compulsion to not open before The Batman. I was there when Hellboy II: The Golden Army opened amid good reviews and strong buzz to $35 million, only to crash 70% in weekend two against The Dark Knight’s then-record $157 million Fri-Sun debut. Conversely, the very kinds of films that have previously thrived alongside big-deal Batman movies, think My Best Friend’s Wedding in 1997, Mamma Mia in 2008 and Honey I Shrunk the Kids in 1989, barely get made at the theatrical level in 2022. In 2005, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Mr. And Mrs. Smith rode a wave of buzz, star power and real-life “scandal” to open with $50 million a week before Batman Begins opened to $73 million over its Wed-Sun debut. Back when people went to the movies instead of just sharing out of context clips on Twitter…
Open Road/Briarcliff opened the Foo Fighters-centric horror comedy Studio 666 into 2,306 theaters this weekend, including at least some premium-large-format screens. The flick earned understandably mixed reviews (56% rotten and 5.6/10 on Rotten Tomatoes). The future cult favorite earned $725,000 on Friday but proved frontloaded for a $1.6 million Fri-Sun debut. That’s a lousy $694 per-theater average. The biggest-grossing theater was the AMC in Woodland Hills, where I lived for six years. The Foo Fighters and director BJ McDonnell made personal appearances during Friday evening shows at the AMC Promenade and the Regal in Sherman Oaks (which used to be an Arclight). Next up for Open Road is Memory, their fourth Liam Neeson actioner since late 2020. The good news is that Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Mask of Zorro, The Foreigner) is directing, so I am hoping for something closer in quality to Run All Night than The Marksman.
MGM released Joe Wright’s justifiably acclaimed Cyrano into 797 theaters after a week-long, LA-exclusive awards-qualifying run beginning December 17. The $30 million musical romance, starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Ben Mendelsohn, began a limited release last month before finally going semi-wide this weekend. The film earned just $470,000 on Friday for a mere $1.4 million weekend gross, an expectedly grim result for a comparatively low-profile release. MGM had its hands full this season with House of Gucci ($53 million) and Licorice Pizza ($16 million), but those who saw Cyrano tended to adore it. I expect it to be discovered on streaming or VOD, and it’s another reason (along with Dog) to take MGM seriously again, but this was never going to break out. It would have played soft even in pre-Covid times. Universal is distributing overseas, and the film has earned $2.43 million worldwide.
In a sign of the times, the biggest per-theater average this weekend was from the reissue of The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola’s mob melodrama returned to 156 Dolby theaters and earned $900,000 for a $5,769 per-theater average. As noted yesterday, that brings the lifetime cume to $136 million, with most of that ($133.6 million) earned in its initial Oscar-winning 1972 theatrical release. That gives it an adjusted-for-inflation cume of around $742 million. The Godfather remains in 26th place among tickets-sold grossers, just behind Fantasia ($778 million including copious reissues) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($779.9 million after this weekend). It has still sold more tickets than any R-rated movie save for The Exorcist ($232 million lifetime/$1 billion adjusted). It’s a reminder that the “problem” with the Oscars is not that the Academy stopped nominating popular movies, but that audiences stopped showing up for acclaimed non-franchise flicks.