Q2 2023 is Loaded with High-Profile Sequels and New Titles but Will Struggle to Match Last Year’s Strong Second Quarter Led by TOP GUN: MAVERICK
The second quarter of the 2023 film year began on Friday, April 7th, and will run through Thursday, July 6th, comprised of film weeks 14 – 26. The industry is coming off a successful first quarter compared to last year’s Q1. With the first thirteen weeks of the year now in the books, Q1 2023 produced 137% of the box office from Q1 2022. This momentum will need to continue since last year’s second quarter featured three blockbusters that are likely to surpass any of this year’s second-quarter offerings.
Last year’s Q2 leaders were TOP GUN: MAVERICK which flew to an amazing $582M during the quarter and $719M overall, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS which took in its entire $411M gross during the quarter, and JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION which earned $342M in the quarter and $377M overall. At this time, we are projecting that THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE will be the highest-grossing movie of Q2 2023 with approximately $350M in Domestic box office.
This year’s shortfall among the top three will be offset at least in part by a deeper pool of titles, with production having returned to pre-pandemic levels. As of now, 28 movies are scheduled for wide release during the quarter, compared with only 15 during last year’s Q2. In fact, every weekend this quarter will see at least one new picture opening in wide release, whereas three weekends in last year’s Q2 were devoid of new wide releases.
Studios are loading up this year’s film calendar in a way that is reminiscent of pre-pandemic scheduling, giving theatres a constant flow of new products. When all is said and done, we project that Q2 2023 will achieve similar box office results to last year’s, despite the challenge of measuring up to TOP GUN: MAVERICK, which Steven Spielberg hailed as the picture that “saved the entire theatrical industry.” This is our projection for the films that are opening in Q2, including an estimated total gross for each within the quarter and overall (in parentheses).
The second quarter kicks off with a bang led by two Wednesday openings in the lead-up to Easter Weekend. First and foremost, THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE (Universal, $350M) premieres on April 5th, a celebration of one of the most popular video games of all time. It stars Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. There are also high expectations for AIR (Amazon/MGM, $30M) which tells the story of the partnership formed between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division to create the Air Jordan brand. The movie stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who also directed the film.
April 14th sees the opening of RENFIELD (Universal, $35M), a modern monster tale depicting Dracula’s loyal servant. The film stars Nicholas Hoult in the title role and Nicolas Cage as Dracula. THE POPE’S EXORCIST (Sony, $25M) also opens on that same weekend, starring Russell Crowe as Father Gabriele Amorth, the legendary Catholic priest who was the Vatican’s chief exorcist and performed thousands of exorcisms. April 21st brings another wave of horror with EVIL DEAD RISE (Warner Bros., $40M).
It will share billing with GUY RITCHE’S THE COVENANT (MGM, $20M), which tells the story of a U.S. soldier played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is injured on the battlefield during his last tour of duty in Afghanistan, who is carried to safety by a local Afghani interpreter who risks his own life. April 28th brings ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET (Lionsgate, $30M), based on Judy Bloom’s 1970 novel which describes the coming of age of an 11-year-old girl. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Abby Ryder Fortson in the title role. That same weekend, BIG GEORGE FOREMAN (Sony, $25M) opens to highlight one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions of all time. Khris Davis played Big George, with a supporting cast that includes Forest Whitaker and John Magaro.
The first film week in May begins on 5/5 with the opening of the very powerful GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 (Disney/Marvel, $340M). James Gunn returns to direct our favorite band of misfits played by Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper. Much is expected from VOL. 3 after the first two movies grossed more than $1B worldwide. May 12th will see BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER (Focus, $30M), the sequel to the 2018 hit that surprised with a gross of more than $100M worldwide. Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen have all returned to play their original roles. This time, Italy is the backdrop as they take a fun, girls’ trip.
Also that weekend, LOVE AGAIN (Sony, $25M) features Celine Dion who plays herself in her first film role after 30+ years of performing on stage. The story is a romantic comedy about text messages winding up with the wrong person. On May 19th the tenth version of FAST X (Universal, $165M) arrives, continuing the car chase action series that began in 2001. Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, and Tyrese Gibson all return in their starring roles. Four titles arrive on May 26th to take the best advantage of the box office opportunity over Memorial Day.
Last year, TOP GUN: MAVERICK jump-started moviegoing with its $717M in Domestic ticket sales. This year, THE LITTLE MERMAID (Disney, $300M) arrives as a live-action remake of the animated classic that premiered in 1989. Hailey Bailey takes on the iconic role of Ariel which is directed by Rob Marshall. The second offering of the week is ABOUT MY FATHER (Lionsgate, $20M), a story of an engaged couple who meet their in-laws for the first time. Wait…have we seen this movie before?
It stars stand-up comic Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert DeNiro who plays his eccentric father. Yes… we have seen this movie before! Next up for the same weekend is the comedy THE MACHINE (Sony, $20M) starring Mark Hamill as a father trying to help his son extract himself from a mob situation, risking both of their lives in the process. Finally, KANDAHAR (Open Road/Briarcliff, $25M) also opens for Memorial Day weekend, starring Gerard Butler as an undercover CIA agent stuck deep in hostile territory in Afghanistan.
June opens on 6/2 with SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (Sony/Marvel, $200M), the sequel to the first animated Spider-Man movie from 2018 that earned $191M domestically and $384M worldwide. That same weekend, THE BOOGYMAN (Disney/20th Century, $30M) appears in theatres, based on a short story by Stephen King about two young girls struggling with the death of their mother.
June 9th brings TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS (Paramount, $150M), the seventh chapter in the popular action hero series that began in 2007. This year’s edition takes audiences on a 1990s globetrotting experience that’s chock full of action. That same weekend, the R-rated comedy STRAYS (Universal, $35M) premieres, starring Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, and Will Forte. It is a live-action account of a dog who seeks revenge on the dirtbag owner who ditched him.
On June 16th, the latest movie from the DC Extended Universe arrives with THE FLASH (Warner Bros./DC, $210M), starring Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, a.k.a. “The Flash” in the first leading role for the character. Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton, and Michael Shannon also star, with direction from Andy Mushietti whose prior work includes IT and IT 2. A lot is riding on this film, both for Warner Bros. and DC Studios. That weekend also will see the opening of the animated ELEMENTAL (Disney, $145M), telling the story of Amber and Wade, who are polar opposites but come to learn how much they actually have in common.
It will be the first time in the post-pandemic period that two titles with the potential to gross $100M are released on the same weekend. This could be interpreted as Disney taking a shot across the bow of Warner Bros., eating into the box office potential for THE FLASH. Finally, THE BLACKENING (Lionsgate, $25M) opens that weekend as well, a tale of a group of African American friends who take a Juneteenth weekend getaway only to find themselves hunted at a remote cabin by a twisted killer. We may have seen this movie before as well.
June 23rd sees the expansion of ASTEROID CITY (Focus, $35M), Wes Anderson’s latest film with another all-star cast led by Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, and Willem Dafoe. It tells the fictional story of a junior stargazer convention that takes place in a desert town circa 1955. Also, that weekend is NO HARD FEELINGS (Sony, $35M) starring Jennifer Lawrence as an Uber driver who is paid by an older couple to seduce their 19-year-old son prior to him leaving for college.
The storyline has created some controversy on social media, and we will have to see if this controversy impacts the film’s box office. The final week of the quarter sees a new release from one of Hollywood’s most storied franchises. On June 30th, INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY (Disney, $80M/$215M) is the fifth chapter in the series that debuted in 1981. It has been 15 years since the last movie, and even with Harrison Ford now being 80 years old, we expect he will attract audiences to return in droves.
The week continues with RUBY GILMAN, TEENAGE KRAKEN (Universal $50M) DreamWorks latest animation story of a shy teenager who discovers she is part of a royal lineage of a mythical sea Kraken. HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON (Sony $30M) also appears on the last weekend in June, a live-action film adaptation of the classic children’s story written in 1955 by Crocket Johnson. The film stars Zooey Deschanel and Zach Levi.
TOP 10 COMPARISONS – 2023 Q2 (Projected) vs. 2022 Q2 (Actuals)
We project that the Top 10 movies from the second quarter of 2023 will earn 92% of the box office taken in by last year’s Top 10 movies from the same quarter. The current period will benefit from having an additional 13 wide-release titles to play compared with last year, which should help make up for the challenge of matching the performance of last year’s mega-star TOP GUN: MAVERICK.
We project that all movies in 2023 Q2 will generate $2.474Bn or 97% of the $2.551Bn earned by last year’s films. Looking further back, this year’s Q2 will earn only 74% compared to the same period in 2019, which shows how far the industry still has to travel in order to reach a complete recovery from the pandemic disruptions.
If this plays out as projected, we will see the following total for the first six months of 2023 compared to 2022 and 2019.
Next week we will look back at the detailed results from the first quarter of 2023.