‘The Marvels’ Will Become the First MCU Title to Fall Short of $100 Million Domestic

Franchise entries “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” (Lionsgate) and “Trolls Band Together” (Universal) opened to respectable levels, if below their precedents, to take #1 and #2 in theaters this weekend. However, “The Marvels” (Disney) set another record: After an MCU-worst opening ($46 million,) the film outdid itself with an estimated 78 percent drop. At $10.2 million, it’s neck-and-neck with the opening of Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving;” on Monday, we’ll know which one landed at #4.

Not every Disney MCU film is #1 in its second weekend — but to place third or lower is without precedent. The $220 million production stands at $65 million domestic, with no chance of reaching $100 million; worldwide, it will be lucky to gross $200 million.

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Theaters are fortunate that three new films dared to open the week after an MCU release (aided by the timing of Thanksgiving just ahead). The range of titles totaled about $115 million for the weekend, up 15 percent from last year. Year to date now is 22 percent over 2022, the lowest mark in months. That still projects to $9 million for the year, but that figure is looking less certain.

The “Hunger Games” prequel opened to less than half of its 2015 predecessor, “Mockingjay — Part 2” ($102 million, which would be around $120 million now). At $98.5 million reported worldwide and a $100 million-plus marketing budget, that seems adequate but not enough to assume a full reboot.

Trolls Band Together DreamWorks Animation
“Trolls Band Together”DreamWorks Animation

This is the third “Trolls” installment, and the second full theatrical release. (The 2020 “World Tour” was an early Covid casualty.) The 2016 “Trolls” opened to $46 million on its way to a domestic $154 million. The Dreamworks animated sequel has both Thanksgiving and the potential for Christmas holdovers, although it should be on PVOD before then. Next week, it will see competition from Disney’s “Wish.” That film has already grossed $108 million worldwide on a $95 million budget.

“Thanksgiving,” which originated as a faux trailer in Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 “Machete,” cost a thrifty $15 million. The slasher film is a return to low-budget filmmaking for Roth, with the bonus of decent reviews (its 63 Metacritic score the best of this week’s new wide releases). The cachet of potentially besting “The Marvels” this week is a bonus.

Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins” (#7) opened wide to only $2.5 million in 2,240 theaters. Despite prominent festival positioning, this would-be heartwarming true sports story received tepid or worse reviews and faced a competitive market. It’s the first Searchlight film to be directly distributed by Disney; previously, Searchlight had its own team. The unit still oversees its own production, marketing, and publicity.

Doubling its theaters to 1,478, Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” (Focus) came in #6 with $2.7 million, over $8.3 million total. It will widen further next week, with the hope that word of mouth will nudge reluctant older viewers into theaters to push this significantly further.

Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” (A24) at #9 nears 17 million, adding $2.3 million this weekend in 1,802 theaters.

SALTBURN, Barry Keoghan, 2023. © MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Salrburn”©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

Jacob Elordi stars in both “Priscilla” and “Saltburn,” Emerald Fennell’s second feature (after “Promising Young Woman”). The Amazon/MGM title had a strong $45,000 per-theater average in seven New York/Los Angeles theaters, even with lukewarm reviews (60 Metacritic). Barry Keoghan and Rosamund also star in the film which, per exhibitor sources, will jump to around 1,500 theaters this week.

Opening very impressively for a subtitled film is “Fallen Leaves” (MUBI) from Finnish veteran Aki Kaurismaki. In two New York theaters, it grossed an excellent $25,000 per theater and received among the best reviews of the year. Of note — it’s only 81 minutes. Los Angeles and San Francisco open this week. IFC opened the Sundance documentary “The Disappearance of Shere Hite” at two theaters for $17,000.

A24’s “Dream Scenario” with Nicolas Cage built on its strong start last week with $275,000 in 25 theaters. It will add more this week, with December 1 for wide release.

Todd Haynes’ “May December,” (Netflix), also among the top-reviewed films of the awards season, opened at an unknown number of theaters to an unreported gross. The streamer is getting its top films out to big cities, but it’s hard to cite specific value beyond ticking off the box for a theatrical release.

The Top 10

1. Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Lionsgate) NEW – CInemascore: B+; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $100 million

$44,000,000 in 3,776 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $11,653; Cumulative: $44,000,000

2. Trolls Band Together (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $95 million

$30,600,000 in 3,870 theaters; PTA: $7,907; Cumulative: $31,770,000

3. (tie) Thanksgiving (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 63; Est. budget: $15 million

$10,200,000 in 3,204 theaters; PTA: $3,184; Cumulative: $10,200,000

3. (tie) The Marvels (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$10,200,000 (-78%) in 4,030 (no change) theaters; PTA: $2,531; Cumulative: $65,025,000

5. Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #2; also streaming on Peacock

$3,500,000 (-%) in 2,829 (-865) theaters; PTA: $1,237; Cumulative: $132,612,000

6. The Holdovers (Focus) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$2,700,000 (-16%) in 1,478 (+700) theaters; PTA: $1,824; Cumulative: $8,400,000

7. Next Goal Wins (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 45; Est. budget: $14 million

$2,500,000 in 2,240 theaters; PTA: $1,116; Cumulative: $2,500,000

8. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Variance for AMC) Week 6; Last week #3

$2,400,000 (-61%) in 1,573 (-1,275) theaters; PTA: $1,526; Cumulative: $175,300,000

9. Priscilla (A24) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$2,326,000 (-49%) in 1,802 (-559) theaters; PTA: $1,291; Cumulative: $16,982,000

10. Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$1,920,000 (-58%) in 1,714 (-1,643) theaters; PTA: $1,120; Cumulative: $63,570,000

Other specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

Saltburn (MGM) NEW – Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Telluride 2022

$312,492 in 7 theaters; PTA: $45,070

Fallen Leaves (MUBI) NEW – Metacritic: 86; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, New York 2022

$50,672 in 2 theaters; PTA: $25,336

The Disappearance of Shere Hite (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include Sundance 2023

$17,000 in 2 theaters; PTA: $8,500

Dream Scenario (A24) Week 2

$275,514 in 25 (+19) theaters; PTA: $11,021; Cumulative: $609,062

Radical (Pantelion) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$901,000 in 461 (-73) theaters; Cumulative: $6,568,000

What Happens Later (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$27,336 in 106 (-1,344) theaters; Cumulative: $3,261,000

The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$17,820 in 34 (-86) theaters; Cumulative: $534,498

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) Week 6

$170,000 in 170 (-413) theaters; Cumulative: $3,189,000

Dicks: The Musical (A24) Week 7

$9,346 in 18 (-4) theaters; Cumulative: $1,435,000

Stop Making Sense (A24) (reissue) Week 8

$14,099 in 24 (-2) theaters; Cumulative: $(reissue only) 5,032,000

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