DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES lived up to its pre-opening expectations by grossing $38.5M in its debut weekend. The fantasy action picture is based on the most successful role-playing game of all time and is Paramount’s attempt to establish its own franchise in the fantasy superhero genre that has been dominated by Disney (Marvel), Warner Bros (DC), and Sony (Spider-Man).
In this story, a charismatic thief joins up with an unlikely band of co-conspirators on a quest to find a lost relic but, of course, events don’t unfold as planned. It stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant and has been received warmly by critics who have given it a 91% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Many points to the humor throughout the movie as a key to making it more enjoyable to watch than recent superhero features which have struck a more somber tone. Moviegoers have also been positive, giving a lively 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Paramount was smart to release it one week before Easter, setting themselves up to do well again next weekend when audiences swell over the holiday.
This picture has no connection to the earlier three films which were released in 2000, 2005, and 2012. Warner Bros. developed the first DUNGEONS & DRAGONS on a production budget of $45M, which opened on 12/8/2000 but only mustered up $34M at the worldwide box office. The second and third D&D movies were released in 2005 and 2012, but both these were minor productions that skipped theatres and went directly to DVD and the SYFY channel.
This year’s release took a long time to develop and get onto the big screen, with Paramount starting the project in 2017. COVID intervened and production did not wrap until 8/19/2021. The studio spent a sizeable sum of $150M on production, which means that the box office buzz will have to continue for a full month or more to reach profitability.
Its warm response could result in positive word of mouth, which will be essential to that end. Next weekend will be the key to its success, especially if it can hold onto 50% or more of its opening weekend box office. Paramount is hoping it does, which would support its desire to make one or more sequels.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 finished in second place with a weekend gross of $28.2M and a disappointing drop of 62% from last weekend’s opening. The week two drops for earlier JOHN WICK titles have been 45%, 47%, and 57% in order of release. After critics and audiences reported that they were gung-ho for JW4, some had hoped that it would decline no more than 50% in its second week.
The 10-day domestic gross is $123M and worldwide totals are $200M, which leaves it on track to become the highest-grossing movie in the series. Still, it is carrying a significantly larger production budget of $100M, which makes it essential that it continue to produce decent box office results for several more weeks.
Paramount’s horror hit SCREAM IV finished tied for third place with a total of $5.3M and a drop of 36% from last weekend. Its domestic gross to date stands at $98M. HIS ONLY SON from Angel Studios generated the same $5.3M in its opening weekend. This Christian movie focused on one of the most controversial stories from the Bible when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice the life of his only son Isaac.
Of course, its timing was planned to open just before Easter in order to maximize its audience. While no critic’s score has appeared on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score has come in at an enthusiastic 95%. With a stunningly low production budget of $225,000, HIS ONLY SON is already assured to be one of the most profitable pictures of 2023.
Angel Studios, is also well-known for having produced the highly successful TV series THE CHOSEN. It should be congratulated for bringing forth a film that audiences love and generating a healthy profit at the same time. CREED III finished in fifth place with $5M this weekend, lifting the cume for the boxing sequel to $148.6M after 31 days.
The total box office earned by all movies playing in North American theatres this weekend was $97.5M. This compares with $79.4M earned in the same weekend last year when Sony’s release of the Marvel superhero film MORBIUS opened with $39M.
WHERE ARE WE AS OF 3/30
After twelve weeks, the 2023 box office stands at 133% compared with the same weeks from 2022 and 75% of the amount earned in 2019.