This weekend, the box office felt the lack of what was supposed to be on the calendar.
Moviegoers weren’t lacking for options: The video game adaptation “Five Nights at Freddy’s” repeated in first place, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is still going strong, Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla ” expanded nationwide, “Oppenheimer” returned to IMAX screens and several well-received indies opened as well.
But this was the weekend that Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “ Dune: Part Two” was supposed to open, before the SAG-AFTRA strike had many studios shuffling release dates in anticipation of a lengthy dispute as opposed to opening films without the help of movie stars. In August, the “Dune” sequel starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya was moved to March 2024, and no major blockbusters moved in to take its Nov. 3 spot.
Even with “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” still bringing Swifties to the multiplex, and many other prestige offerings, including Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers,” overall ticket sales are likely to be around $64 million for the weekend, making it one of the slowest of the year.
In its second weekend, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” picked up an additional $19.4 million to take first place according to studio estimates Sunday. It’s a hefty 76% drop from its first weekend, which was not unexpected. Contributing factors include that is also available to stream on Peacock and that films targeted towards intense and niche fandoms are often wildly frontloaded. But at $217 million globally against a reported $20 million production budget, it’s a hit for Universal Pictures and Blumhouse.
“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” took second place, with fourth weekend earnings at an estimated $13.5 million for the AMC release. Playing only on Thursdays through Sundays, the film has made an astonishing $231.1 million globally to date.
In third place, “Killers of the Flower Moon” was down only 25% in its third weekend, with $7 million from 3,786 screens, which brings its domestic total to $52.3 million. The $200 million film was financed by Apple Original Films with Paramount overseeing its theatrical run.
After a healthy opening in New York and Los Angeles last weekend, “Priscilla,” based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me,” expanded to 1,359 screens where it earned $5.1 million over the weekend to take fourth place. Coppola’s well reviewed film starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi attracted an audience that was predominately younger (75% under 35) and female (65%). The hope is that A24 release will have a long life into awards season.
“ The Holdovers,” a Focus Features release, also expanded slightly to 64 theaters this weekend where it grossed an additional $600,000. Next weekend the New England-set period drama starring Paul Giamatti as a curmudgeonly prep school teacher will expand to over 800 locations.
A handful of smaller films made their theatrical debuts this weekend, including Meg Ryan’s “What Happens Later,” released by Bleecker Street, and Sundance gems “ Radical ” and “ All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt.”
The biggest of the batch was “ Radical,” which is based on a true story about a teacher in a Mexican border city and stars Eugenio Derbez. The Pantelion release opened in 419 locations and made $2.7 million. “What Happens Later,” a rom-com starring Ryan and David Duchovny as exes stuck in an airport, made $1.6 million from 1,492 screens. Raven Jackson’s “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt,” meanwhile, opened on 3 screens and earned $12,529, according to A24.
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