Sony’s late-summer event pic Gran Turismo may have officially won the weekend box office race with a $17.4 million domestic opening, but Barbie says she’s the true victor.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp, Gran Turismo had been set to launch nationwide Aug. 11 but switched gears because of the actors strike and the resulting prohibition on the cast — led by Orlando Bloom and David Harbour — doing any press. The studio instead hosted two weekends of sneaks and a handful of fan screenings to build buzz before opening the movie everywhere Aug. 25.
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The opening number includes a hefty $3.9 million in grosses from those previous sneaks. It’s hardly the first time that a Hollywood studio has added such grosses to an opening weekend number, but the early Gran Turismo screenings were far more robust than is the norm. Gran Turismo‘s weekend number would have otherwise been $13.5 million.
Put another way: Warner Bros. and Greta Gerwig’s mega-blockbuster Barbie — which has now earned an estimated $592.8 million domestically — would have been assured of topping the weekend chart. Monday actuals show Barbie earning $15.1 million from 3,736 locations in its sixth weekend. The Barbie team is none too pleased about the Gran Turismo situation, with insiders telling The Hollywood Reporter that Warners is counting the weekend as a win for its movie.
Sony sources counter that other studios have likewise lumped in sneaks, and that it is standard industry practice.
Either way, Gran Turismo got off to a muted start for a movie based on a popular video game. The hope now is that an A CinemaScore from audiences will provide a turbo boost in the days to come.
On Sunday, Warners estimated Barbie‘s weekend earnings to be $17.1 million. Insiders defend the aggressive estimate by saying there was no way of knowing what the impact of National Cinema Day. Across the country on Aug. 27, tickets cost $4 for any film in any format at thousands of cinemas. “It will be a wild day in theaters,” said one Hollywood studio distribution chief. Barbie led the day terms of ticket sales, which came in at a combined $34 million. Admissions were an estimated 8.5 million, which is 5 percent of last year, when National Cinema Day fell on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
Overseas, Gran Turismo grew its foreign tally to a sluggish $36.5 million from 61 markets for an early global cume north of $53.8 million, while Barbie earned another $18.2 million from 75 markets for a foreign tally of $745.5 million and a stunning $1.34 billion globally.
DC’s Blue Beetle slotted third place in North America with an estimated $12.8 million from 3,871 locations in its second outing for a domestic total of $46.3 million. If these estimates hold, that’s a decline of just 49 percent. Overseas, the superhero pic earned another $10 million from 70 markets for a foreign tally of $35.5 million and a disappointing $81.8 million globally.
Taking fourth place is Universal’s summer sensation Oppenheimer, which earned an estimated $9 million from 2,872 cinemas for a domestic total of $300 million. In yet another milestone, Oppenheimer has passed Inception to become Christopher Nolan’s third-highest-grossing film at the domestic box office behind The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, not adjusted for inflation.
Oppenheimer also continues to do big business overseas, grossing another $29.1 million for a foreign total of $477.1 million — that’s ahead of The Dark Knight‘s $471 million — and a global haul of $777.1 million.
In addition to Gran Turismo, a number of indie titles made a play this weekend at the U.S. box office as summer speeds toward the finish line. (The hope is that domestic revenue for the season will hit the $4 billion mark in a return to pre-pandemic levels.)
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions’ Retribution, the latest action pic from Liam Neeson, placed No. 8 with an estimated $3.3 million from 1,750 theaters, in line with already lowered expectations. The pic could make up ground on premium VOD, although it got slapped with a C CinemaScore from audiences
Briarcliff/Open Road opened The Hill, an inspirational sports drama starring Dennis Quaid, in 1,570 locations. The movie took in an estimated $2.5 million from 1,570 locations.
Bleecker Street’s specialty film Golda, starring Helen Mirren as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, is looking to take in $2 million despite playing in far fewer theaters than The Hill, or 883 locations.
At the specialty box office, MGM and Amazon’s critically acclaimed Bottoms, a teen sex comedy directed by Emma Seligman, is off to an impressive start as it launches in 10 locations. The film’s location average for the weekend is $51,600, the best average for a film starting off in 10 locations since before the pandemic.
Several high-profile rereleases were also on the marquee timed to National Cinema Day, including Jurassic Park and American Graffiti. Jurassic Park stomped to an estimated $1.7 million.
Aug. 27, 7:45 a.m.: Updated with revised numbers.
Aug. 28, 8:15 a.m.: Updated with revised numbers.
Aug. 28, 9:34 a.m.: Updated with National Cinema Day numbers.
This story was originally published Aug. 26 at 8:20 a.m.
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