Moviegoing slowed to its lowest point since Super Bowl weekend seven months ago, with the only new wide-release movie A HAUNTING IN VENICE unable to attract audiences outside of its core interest group.
While next weekend is not likely to bring much relief with EXPEND4BLES as the only significant new release, we should see a bump in two weeks with SAW X, THE CREATOR, DUMB MONEY, and PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE.
THE NUN II eked out a surprising first-place finish for the second weekend in a row with $14.7M and a respectable drop of only 55% from its opening. This is a much better second weekend hold in comparison with the second weekend of the original THE NUN, which dropped 66% in its second weekend.
THE NUN II has grossed $56.5M through its first ten days, which is 67% of THE NUN’s ten-day gross of $84.1M. It bodes well for this picture that it was able to hold off A HAUNTING IN VENICE, which had also been marketed to appeal to horror audiences.
A HAUNTING IN VENICE came in a disappointing second place with a gross of $14.5M. This is Kenneth Branagh’s third film adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery, with Branagh also starring once again as detective Hercule Poirot. Branagh’s two earlier movies based on Christie’s stories were MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (11/10/2017) and DEATH ON THE NILE (2/11/2022), which did well enough to justify a third turn at the wheel.
Kenneth Branagh’s Film Adaptations of Agatha Christie Novels
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (11/10/2017)
* RT Critics 61%, RT Audience 54%
* Opening Weekend Domestic $28.7M, Total Domestic $102.8M, Total Worldwide $352.8M
* Production Budget $55M, Box Office Gross to Budget Ratio 6.4
DEATH ON THE NILE (2/11/2022)
* RT Critics 61%, RT Audience 82%
* Opening Weekend Domestic $12.9M, Total Domestic $45.6M, Total Worldwide $137.3M
* Production Budget $90M, Box Office Gross to Budget Ratio 1.5
A HAUNTING IN VENICE (9/15/2023)
* RT Critics 78%, RT Audience 76%
* Opening Weekend Domestic $14.5M
* Production Budget $60M
A HAUNTING IN VENICE’s performance may not track that of Branagh’s two earlier films after 20th Century Studios chose to market it as a supernatural, horror film and downplay its provenance as an Agatha Christie whodunit story. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and DEATH ON THE NILE were based on two of Christie’s most popular novels, and her name was used prominently in their promotion.
A HAUNTING IN VENICE derives from a less popular work, Christie’s 1969 novel ‘Hallowe’en Party’, and its creators decided to give the movie a name change from the novel. While Christie has a built-in audience, the box office gross for DEATH ON THE NILE was only 39% that of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, promoting a new marketing approach with the third film.
VENICE’s opening weekend of $14.5M was slightly higher than the $12.9M earned by NILE and much lower than the $28.7M earned by ORIENT EXPRESS. One could argue that this decision cost them a first-place finish in its opening, but it could wind up being a smart choice. Even though it will have competition for the horror audience, it may benefit from being seen as relevant for the next six weeks until Halloween.
THE EQUALIZER 3 finished in third place with $7.2M and a drop of 40%. Its seventeen-day total stands at $73.7M, which is 92% of THE EQUALIZER and 93% of THE EQUALIZER 2 at this same point. This franchise has demonstrated remarkable consistency through three films, and the producers must be imploring Denzel Washington to reconsider his decision to retire from playing the ex-CIA action hero Robert McCall.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 dropped from third to fourth in its second weekend, taking in $4.7M, a decline of 53%. After ten days, the comic sequel has earned $18.6M in domestic ticket sales, which is a mere 50% of the earnings from MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 after its second weekend.
GREEK WEDDING 3 has also sputtered in international markets, where it has earned only $5M to date. This points to a disappointing loss on the project, with Focus Features spending $20M on production. It seems unlikely that creator Nia Vardalos will be given the chance to make a fourth movie in the series.
BARBIE finished in fifth place for the second weekend in a row, adding $4.0M to its record-setting 2023 domestic total which now stands at $626.1M. BARBIE refuses to accept that the summer has ended, as her beach party continues. The movie has been in the top five for all nine weeks since it opened, despite having to compete with twelve wide-release titles over that period.
WHERE ARE WE AS OF 9/14
After 36 weeks, the 2023 year-to-date totals are 127% of the amount generated at this same point in 2022, and 86% compared with 2019.