Are audiences tiring of the MCU brand? Thor 4 is the fourth film in the franchise to drop greater than 65% in its second weekend, and all four of those titles have been from roughly the past year (the others are Black Widow, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). On top of that, the past year has seen many of the series’ worst received films. Of the four MCU films to fall under the A range from CinemaScore (Thor, Eternals, Doctor Strange 2, and Thor 4), three have been from the past year, as have three of the six MCU films to fall below 75% on Rotten Tomatoes (Strange 2, Thor 4, and Eternals).
While this trend isn’t encouraging, there’s little to suggest that MCU fever is flagging. Two of the large drops can be explained by extraneous circumstances, as Black Widow was also available on Disney+ and Spider-Man: No Way Home’s second weekend fell over Christmas, with its second Friday landing on the typically soft Christmas Eve. Beyond that, this summer’s two MCU films may have dropped larger than usual due to less than stellar word of mouth, but their huge openings suggest audiences are still clamoring for Avengers-adjacent content. Also, the recent large drops may be disappointing, but with Doctor Strange 2 finishing with nearly $1 billion and Thor 4 already halfway there in ten days, the franchise is evidently still on fire, even when the films are getting mixed responses.
In second place came Minions: The Rise of Gru, which took home a very solid $26 million in its third weekend, down only 44%. This is better than the first Minions, which dropped 53.5% in weekend three with a gross of $22.9 million. After spending its first two weeks slightly behind, Rise of Gru has finally caught up to its predecessor with $262.6 million, practically on par with Minions’ 17 day cume.
The weekend’s big box office surprise is Where the Crawdads Sing, which beat expectations for a $17 million debut in third place. Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and based on Delia Owens’ literary phenomenon which became one of the best selling novels of the past decade, the $24 million budgeted film from Sony and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine was much better received by audiences (A- CinemaScore) than by critics (34% on Rotten Tomatoes). Women are flocking to the film, and if word of mouth can keep up then we could see it outperform The Girl on the Train. That thriller was similarly based on a massive bestseller and it opened to $24.5 million, and despite disappointing audiences (it received a B- CinemaScore) it still legged out to $75.4 million domestically and grossed $173 million worldwide. Crawdads’ international potential may not be as large, but the over-performing opening is giving us one of the summer’s few successful counter-programmers.
In fourth place came Top Gun: Maverick with an additional $12 million, dropping 23% in its eighth weekend and bringing its total to $618 million domestic and $1.237 billion worldwide. It is now days away from entering the top ten of all time domestic box office, and over the rest of the summer we’ll see how far up the list it can fly.
Elvis came in fifth place in its fourth weekend with $7.6 million. Now at $106 million, the WB film is the year’s biggest adult-led non-franchise film.
Just outside the top five, newcomer Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank has failed to hit its target. The animated Blazing Saddles remake (by way of Kung Fu Panda) grossed just $6.3 million, below the already low expectations. The star studded voice cast includes Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Michelle Yeoh, and Samuel L. Jackson, but the ingredients here were unable to draw family audiences away from the Despicable Me spinoff. On the plus side, Paramount only paid $10 million for the rights to the toon.
Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris debuted in ninth place on 980 screens with $1.9 million, and it is on track to become Focus Features’ third biggest film of the year after Downton Abbey: A New Era and The Northman. The film, which stars Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert and Jason Isaacs, tells the tale of a maid in 1950s London who goes to Paris to buy a Dior dress that she has become obsessed with. It has charmed critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes), and its older women demo doesn’t have much geared towards it in the coming weeks, so it has a good chance of growing from here.
Falling just outside the top ten in 11th place is Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, which expanded from 48 to 153 theaters and grossed $575k. With a cume of $1.7 million, the partly stop-motion mockumentary is one of the year’s most successful arthouse titles (in addition to being one of the year’s best reviewed films at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes), and A24 plans to continue its expansion throughout the summer.
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