MONDAY AM: It wasn’t a tie as many had Nun 2 and A Haunting in Venice far apart at the box office yesterday, but the New Line horror pic’s second weekend really did win in the end with a $14.5M take, -56%, to the Kenneth Branagh pic’s opening of $14.3M.
Nun 2‘s domestic stands at $56.3M, putting the Conjuring universe of movies’ global box office at $742M stateside, $2.17 billion global.
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Nun 2 ‘s Sunday was higher than Haunting‘s $3.95M to $3.4M.
Comscore called this past weekend at $62.4M, which is the second worst YTD. Don’t expect any great miracles this weekend with Lionsgate/Millenium’s long-in-the-tooth, Expand4bles opening. The third film back in 2014 opened to $15.8M and finaled at $39.3M domestic.
SUNDAY AM: It looks like Hercule Poirot doesn’t have a prayer at winning the box office this weekend, with Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting in Venice losing No. 1 to the second weekend of New Line’s Nun 2, $14.5M to $14.7M. That’s in line with industry estimates, which show a $100K-$300K lead for Nun 2 over the Disney/20th Century Studios film. If these numbers stick into tomorrow, it’s not “a tie,” as others are labeling it. Uhh, Nun 2 wins.
Even though A Haunting in Venice had PLFs and Imax, which propelled 36% of its weekend, Nun 2 had a better Saturday than the Branagh movie, $6.25M to $5.4M. The sequel’s overall hold this weekend is -55%, which is great for a horror pic (they typically drop -60% or worse in weekend 2). The Michael Chaves-directed Conjuring spinoff sequel is also expected to beat Haunting in Venice today, $4M to $3.6M. The first Nun, back in 2018, had a second weekend drop of -66% and take of $18.2M.
These photo finishes tend to happen at the box office when business is dull. This weekend being the second-lowest of 2023 so far, with an estimated $64.7M for all titles. Some of that’s due to the older-skewing, initially lower-grossing nature of a movie like Haunting in Venice (82% over 25 vs. previous two Poirot pics 70% over 25), And yes, the SAG-AFTRA strike, as the Zendaya movie Challengers was originally dated for this weekend, but then had to move. That’s about $10M-$15M of box office money missing right there.
Read: one of the most notorious ties times during a dull September weekend was Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2017, when there was a three-way tie between Kingsman: The Golden Circle (weekend 2 of $16.93M), It ($16.9M weekend 4), and Tom Cruise’s American Made (opening of $16.8M). Boy, were distribution heads pissed on that Sunday morning. The drama played out into Monday AM, of course. Some Disney insiders believe that Haunting in Venice will have the upper hand tomorrow AM. In their eyes, it’s not a won and done box office battle.
But overall, it’s fair to say that the SAG-AFTRA strike, and actors’ refusal to promote struck work, is taking its toll on the box office. In addition to A Haunting in Venice, Sony’s big ensemble dramedy Dumb Money posted a low per theater of $27K after $217K opening (more on that in a bit).
Nicolas Cage even had a wide release this weekend, the action comedy The Retirement Plan in 1,175 theaters, which did $745K. That pic didn’t have a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement like the actor’s recent A24 TIFF premiere, Dream Scenario, which he allowed him to show up in Toronto for press. The Oscar-winner here wasn’t able to promote his latest movie from Scott Kennedy’s Falling Forward Films.
Technically speaking, for a Cage wide opening north of 1,000 theaters, that’s the Oscar winner’s worst-ever, under the $2.7M start of 1994’s Trapped in Paradise at 1,286 locations. Cage’s critically acclaimed Pig was booked at 552 theaters during its opening weekend in July 2021, and did $970,9K by comparison.
While moviegoers aren’t going to see The Nun 2 for its ensemble, that’s the draw with A Haunting in Venice. And with that pic’s cast, as well as Dumb Money‘s, and even Retirement Plan‘s inability to have actors on talk shows, well, it’s impossible for these types of original movies to break through on the big screen.
This is the reason why Sony is taking a platform approach to Dumb Money, to spread word of mouth. The Craig Gillespie-directed title scheduled to go wide on Sept. 29. No RT audience score yet on Dumb Money.
Retirement Plan was a distribution deal for Falling Forward Films as part of an overall commitment they have with the pic’s production company PMI. Radiant has global rights on the Cage film. Originally the plan was to go 500 theaters, but exhibitors hearing about the heat on the actor’s upcoming Dream Scenario, due out Nov. 10, called up Falling Forward and requested the movie, hence the pic’s wide release at 1,175 theaters. The YouTube trailer only generated 35K views since its release on July 12. There were in-theater promotions for the pic. The Tim Brown-written and directed title follows Ashley (Ashley Greene) and her young daughter Sarah, who get caught up in a criminal enterprise that puts their lives at risk. Ashley turns to estranged father Matt (Cage), currently living the life of a retired beach bum in the Cayman Islands. Ron Perlman and Jackie Earle Haley also star. The movie was made for less than $20M. Five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are at 80% for the pic, while the RT audience gave it a 65%.
Watch the trailer below:
Studio reported Sunday numbers:
1) The Nun 2 (NL) 3,743 theaters (+15), Fri $4.4M (-66%) Sat $6.24M Sun $4M 3-day $14.7M (-55%) Total $56.5M/Wk 1
2.) A Haunting in Venice (Dis) 3,305 Fri $5.5M, Sat $5.4M Sun $3.6M 3-day $14.5M/Wk 1
3.) Equalizer 3 (Sony) 3,528 (-437) theaters Fri $2.1M (-38%) Sat $3.2M Sun $1.9M 3-day $7.2M (-40%), Total: $73.6M /Wk 3
4.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Uni) 3,678 (+28) theaters Fri $1.39M (-62%) Sat $1.96M Sun $1.35M 3-day $4.7M (-53%) Total $18.5M/Wk 2
5.) Barbie (WB) 3,012 (-269) theaters, Fri $1M (-30%) Sat $1.7M Sun $1.2M 3-day $3.96M (-30%) Total $626.1M/Wk 9
6.) Jawan (Yash Raj) 800 theaters, Fri $694K Sat $1M Sun $775K 3-day $2.49M (-59%), Total $12.1M/Wk 2
7.) Blue Beetle 2,386 (-400) theaters, Fri $575K (-32%) Sat $1.1M Sun $750K 3-day $2.475M (-35%), Total $67.2M/Wk 5
8.) Gran Turismo (Sony) 2,202 (-563) theaters, Fri $620K (-32%) Sat $1M Sun $680K 3-day $2.35M (-33%) total $39.4M/Total Wk 4
9.) Oppenheimer (Uni) 1,799 (-292) theaters Fri $560K (-30%) Sat $930K Sun $610K 3-day $2.1M (-32%)/Total $318.6M/Wk 9
10.) Teenage Mutanta Ninja Turtles…(Par) 2,066 (-434) theaters Fri $440K (-23%) Sat $945K Sun $615K 3-day $2.M (-28%) Total $114.1M/Wk 7
SATURDAY AM: Blame the fall, blame the lack of product, blame the strikes, blame everything — but this weekend’s box office is bound to be the second-worst of 2023, with an estimated $62.5M for all movies.
We previously hit rock bottom over Super Bowl Weekend, when Warner Bros.’ Magic Mike’s Last Dance led the box office, sans a fire-breathing marketing campaign, all films totaling $52.6M, per Box Office Mojo.
Here’s the irony — this weekend is still up over the same frame a year ago at +21%, when The Women King led all pics to a marketplace total of $51.4M. And that Viola Davis movie had a bigger opening than what A Haunting in Venice is seeing here, $19M to an estimated $14M-$15M. Friday was $5.5M for the Poirot film, including previews. One rival studio shows Nun 2 winning the weekend, but that remains to be seen, and that sequel’s weekend is being reported as $14.6M. However, at this point in time, despite being a close-race, Haunting has the edge.
A bigger irony for this whodunnit: Netflix’s limited theatrical release of Knives Out 2: Glass Onion in 696 theaters made about the same amount of money, and that starred Janelle Monae, Kate Hudson, Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista etc. And we all knew that could have done significantly better over the Thanksgiving box office if unleashed as a wide release. So it’s not that whodunnits don’t work at the box office.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why A Haunting in Venice isn’t breaking out. But it’s important to note, Disney, that if you’re going to allow Branagh to do these films, then have him trick it out with stars, and also realize that these older-skewing films are counterprogramming at the end of the day in something of a holiday marketplace. Don’t cheap out: Branagh’s latest cost the least of the three at $60M. At the very least, spruce up the movie with younger-skewing stars. Who wouldn’t want to see Zendaya, Tom Holland, and Harry Styles in a Poirot movie? The Johnny Depp-Penelope Cruz-Daisy Ridley, etc. starring Murder on the Orient Express opened in the No 3 spot back in 2017 to a very robust $28.6M in was during Veterans Day weekend, and it was coming out during the second weekend of Thor: Ragnarok, which led with $57M, and against the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg comedy, Daddy’s Home 2, which did $29.6M. Similar to Barbie propping Oppenheimer up more in its opening weekend and enabling it to overindex, it was a slightly similar case during Veterans Day weekend 2017, where the tide lifted all boats, including Murder on the Orient Express.
Also in regards to this weekend being the second-lowest of 2023: The box office was originally expected to be richer. Remember, MGM’s Zendaya R-rated raunchy romance pic, Challengers, from Luca Guadagnino, was originally scheduled to open this weekend, and that could have made a huge difference. In fact, it may have ranked No. 1. That movie was pushed because of the SAG-AFTRA strike to the end of April 2024, so that Zendaya can promote to her 200M social media followers.
I had heard that Disney pivoted their campaign late in the game to lean more into the horror element of it. However, that’s not provoking anyone to head out. Again, unlike Equalizer 3, which has Denzel Washington front and center in its one sheets and billboards, there’s no one in the ensemble of A Haunting in Venice prodding anyone to go. Yes, the SAG-AFTRA strike and the cast being forbidden to promote struck work does impact business a bit here in regards to raising the volume on this movie. But at the end of the day, it goes back to cast. Also, A Haunting in Venice has it harder because it’s not exactly a genre sequel like Equalizer 3 and The Nun 2, IPs which will easily push moviegoers. Branagh’s Poirot relies on the glitziness of his suspects to sell his latest.
A Haunting in Venice gets the same CinemaScore grade as its predecessors, a B. Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak exits were harder at 73% positive and a 48% recommend. Guy-leaning at 52%, with the largest demo interestingly being 25-34 at 36%. The over-45 club repped 28%. Even though guys have the edge, women over 25 showed up at 39%. They gave the film a 76% grade, while those over 55 gave it an 81%. Diversity demos were 53% Caucasian, 18% Latino and Hispanic, 9% Black and 14% Asian. Close to a third of the gross for A Haunting in Venice is coming from the West, with PLF and Imax driving 39% of the gross. AMC Burbank, of course, is the top-grossing venue in the nation with $34K to date.
Sony’s limited release of Dumb Money, following in the wake of its TIFF world premiere, saw $92K yesterday from plays in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, DC, Boston and San Francisco, for a $198K weekend or $24,8K per theater. Those aren’t great numbers. Again, the studio thinking much like Gran Turismo in the midst of an actors strike is to open the movie limited and have great word of mouth leak out; critics at 83% fresh on this one. However, man, the world needs to see Seth Rogen and Pete Davidson on a late night talk show getting excited about a Gamestop meme movie in order to make this dramedy a meme in and of itself.
1.) A Haunting in Venice (Dis) 3,305 Fri $5.5M, 3-day $14M-$15M/Wk 1
2) The Nun 2 (NL) 3,743 theaters (+15), Fri $4.4M (-66%) 3-day $14.6M (-55%) Total $56.3M/Wk 1
3.) Equalizer 3 (Sony) 3,528 (-437) theaters Fri $2.1M (-38%) 3-day $7.3M (-39%), Total: $73.8M /Wk 3
4.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Uni) 3,678 (+28) theaters Fri $1.39M (-62%) 3-day $4.6M (-54%) Total $18.4M/Wk 2
5.) Barbie (WB) 3,012 (-269) theaters, Fri $1M (-30%) 3-day $3.6M (-37%) Total $625.7M/Wk 9
6.) Blue Beetle 2,386 (-400) theaters, Fri $575K (-32%) 3-day $2.5M (-34%), Total $67.3M/Wk 5
7.) Jawan (Yash Raj) 800 theaters, Fri $710K (-61%) 3-day $2.45M (-60%), Total $12.1M/Wk 2
8.) Gran Turismo (Sony) 2,202 (-563) theaters, Fri $620K (-32%) 3-day $2.35M (-33%) total $39.4M/Total Wk 4
9.) Oppenheimer (Uni) 1,799 (-292) theaters Fri $570K (-30%) 3-day $2.2M (-29%)/Total $318.7M/Wk 9
10.) Teenage Mutanta Ninja Turtles…(Par) 2,066 (-434) theaters Fri $440K (-23%) 3-day $2.15M (-23%) Total $114.2M/Wk 7
FRIDAY AFTERNOON: 20th Century Studios/Disney’s A Haunting in Venice is looking to perform slighty better than expected with a $5.3M Friday, inclusive of previews, and a 3-day of $14M.
That’s a slightly better start than Death on the Nile’s $12.8M opening, but not as glamorous as 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express‘ $28.6M among Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot adaptations. Pic is playing at 3,305 theaters.
A Haunting in Venice isn’t really scaring that much excitement up on social media either per RelishMix with social media universe across Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok at 79.1M — 59% under horror and previous Branagh Agatha Christie norms. The campaign per RelishMix skews 25+ “running off of the 20th Studios social network at 44.8M fans and cross promoting on Death on the Nile pages in lieu of launching unique official pages for the film.”
Adds RelishMix in regards to chatter online, “Social buzz on Haunting prior to opening runs mixed-leaning-positive on this third installment, spinning into horror. Fans are exclaiming, ‘Mixing horror and a Hercule Poirot murder mystery? Let’s see.’ and curious about by the casting of Tina Fey, although she’s in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building. Kenneth Branagh’s consistent portrayal of Poirot coupled with his transition into horror directing gets mixed curious, sentiment from praise to skepticism. Amidst the chatter, some are referencing dim cinematography and past Agatha Christie disappointments.” Oy vey.
A Haunting in Venice‘s take is enough to beat the expected second weekend take of New Line’s The Nun 2 at 3,743 theaters which is staring down an estimated $4M and $12.8M second weekend, a -61% decline, standard for a horror movie and running ten-day total of $54.5M.
In third, it’s Sony’s third weekend of The Equalizer 3 at 3,528 theaters with a third Friday of $2.1M, 3-day of $7.3M, -39%, and running total of $73.7M.
Fourth is Focus Features’ second weekend of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 at 3,678 theaters which is seeing a second Friday of $1.2M, 3-day of $4M, -60% for a ten-day of $17.8M.
Warner Bros.’ Barbie in her ninth weekend at 3,012 is seeing a Friday of $915K, 3-day of $3.6M, -37% and a running total of $625.8M.
FRIDAY AM: 20th Century Studios’ A Haunting in Venice, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, scared up $1.2M in previews. The weekend outlook for the feature adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel Hallowe’en is $12M+, similar to what Branagh’s take on the author’s Death on the Nile did on its first weekend last year, $12.8M.
Comps for the expected older-female-skewing A Haunting in Venice include 2019’s Doctor Sleep, which did $1.4M on its Thursday before a $14M opening weekend; the 2018 Jennifer Lawrence Russian spy flick Red Sparrow ($1.2M Thursday previews and $17M opening); and last year’s Ticket to Paradise ($1.1M previews, $16.5M opening) and Death on the Nile ($1.1M previews).
As we mentioned, working in A Haunting in Venice‘s favor is that it’s the best reviewed of Branagh’s Hercule Poirot movies at 77% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes vs. 61% for Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. The downside is that Haunting isn’t tricked up with stars like Murder was; the only big names here outside Branagh are Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh and 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey.
A Haunting in Venice could win the weekend if New Line’s The Nun 2 takes an enormous tumble deeper than 60%.
Haunting is booked at 3,305 theaters and also has the benefit of Imax and PLF ticket upcharges. Previews are composed of Imax Wednesday fan screenings as well as showtimes that began at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express earned B CinemaScores, so we’ll see how Branagh’s latest comes in. The third movie here, given its less-starry cast, cost a reported $60M before P&A versus Death on the Nile‘s $90M.
The Nun 2 ends its first week at 3,728 theaters with $41.7M after a $1.7M Thursday, -15% from Wednesday.
Sony’s The Equalizer 3 at 3,965 ends Week 2 with $16.6M after a $936K Thursday, -14% from Wednesday, for a running total of $66.4M.
Focus Features’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 at 3,650 ends Eeek 1 with $13.8M after a $735K Thursday, -11%.
Warner Bros’ Barbie, booked at 3,281 theaters — and on PVOD and digital sellthrough now — saw an eighth week of $7.5M after a $390K Thursday, -16% for running total of $622.1M. This weekend she takes over The Avengers ($623.3M) as the 11th-highest-grossing movie ever at the domestic box office.
Yash Raj’s Jawan saw a Thursday of $367K, -20%, bringing its first week to $8.3M and a running total of $9.7M.
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