With only one new wide release and the seasonal lull in full effect, the weekend box office could only muster $71M. This was the fifth lowest frame of the year, after Feb. 10-12 @ $52.6M, Sep. 15-17 @ $62M, Sep. 22-24 @ $51.8M, and Nov. 3-5 @ $63.1M.
It has become a tradition to see low grosses at the midpoint between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the same weekend last year (Dec. 9-11) producing an anemic $37.7M with no new wide releases. Exhibitors are looking ahead to the three weeks of significant new openings to ring out 2023, beginning with WONKA next Friday.
The Japanese anime title THE BOY AND THE HERON opened at 2,205 locations and earned $12.9M to earn a first-place finish, the highest opening of any foreign film in the domestic market this year.
It resonated with the moviegoing public in a similar way to GODZILLA MINUS ONE, which earned $11.4M in its successful debut last weekend. It is also noteworthy to see two Japanese films finish among the top three performers in the domestic market on the same weekend.
THE BOY AND THE HERON tells the story of a young boy named Mahito who is distraught from having lost his mother in the war. He ventures into a world inhabited by both the living and the dead, where death comes to an end and life finds a new beginning.
Both critics and audiences enjoy it, giving it 96% and 91% scores on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie has already proven itself in global markets where it has grossed $84.1M to date.
THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES finished in second place in its fourth weekend by gathering up an additional $9.4M and dropping 34% from last weekend. After taking first place in its first two weekends, the sequel dropped to second last weekend behind the opening of RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ.
Lionsgate should be encouraged by its steady results after it began with a franchise-low opening weekend of $44.6M from November 17-19. After 24 days, the SONGBIRDS & SNAKES has earned a domestic gross of $135.7M, still far lower than the previous franchise-low THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 which had earned $244.6M at this same point in 2015.
We estimate it will finish its domestic run with $150M and worldwide at $300M. This would be good enough to generate a profit after Lionsgate pared back its production cost to $100M to make the film, significantly less than the $160M it spent on MOCKINGJAY PART 2
GODZILLA MINUS ONE secured third place by grossing $8.3M and dropping 27%. Toho has taken full advantage of the gap in new Hollywood releases during this period to bring forward its notorious and beloved monster. GODZILLA has received high marks from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, coming in at 97% and 98% respectively. We project a final domestic gross of $42M, added to its impressive tally of $27M in Japan, with the rest of the world still awaiting distribution.
In its fourth weekend, Universal’s TROLLS BAND TOGETHER finished in fourth by selling $6.2M in tickets and dropping a slight 21% from last weekend. To date, the third TROLLS movie has grossed $83.1M and outperformed Disney’s WISH which has managed to earn only $49.4M since it opened five days after TROLLS. This weekend, WISH earned only $5.3M and a fifth-place finish.
After easily winning in its opening weekend, RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ stepped back into fifth place with $5M, a steep drop of 77%. This was not unexpected, coming six weeks after TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR lost 64% in its second weekend. Beyonce has earned $28M in its first ten days, whereas Taylor Swift had earned $132M in the same period.
We estimate that RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ will finish with a domestic total of $33M, which is significantly less than the $179M earned by Taylor Swift’s movie to date. Since neither of these titles was on the radar only a few months ago, any box office they generate for exhibitors is considered a blessing.
Their combined domestic gross of more than $200M has softened the impact of Hollywood’s labor strikes, which caused studios to postpone blockbuster releases such as DUNE 2 and GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.
In our spotlight on limited releases, Searchlight’s POOR THINGS stands out with a total gross of $644K at only nine locations, an impressive $71,556 per theatre average. Created by filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (FAVOURITE) and producer Emma Stone, this stunning and fantastical tale shows the evolution of Bella Baxter (Stone), a young woman who has been brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter played by Willem Dafoe.
In some ways reminiscent of the classic Frankenstein story but from a female perspective, Bella deals with the realities of being re-animated and discovering her likes and dislikes as she experiences her new life. Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a debauched lawyer who takes her on a whirlwind global adventure.
Critics have been positive by giving a 93% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas audiences have supported it with an 88% score. Emma Stone’s performance is winning praise and has put her in the conversation for a potential Best Actress nomination at the Oscars. Searchlight is managing the rollout for this quirky film very carefully, planning to expand to additional locations over the next two weekends leading up to Christmas.
Where Are We as of 12/7
After 48 weeks, the 2023 year-to-date box office stands at 123% compared with the same point in 2022 and 82% compared with 2019.