National Cinema Day Creates Uncertainty for ‘Gran Turismo’ and ‘Barbie,’ Does ‘Oppenheimer’ No Favors

Thanks to National Cinema Day, consider this week’s box office report to be a work in progress. For the second year, on a late summer Sunday, the National Association of Theater Owners declared a day of deeply discounted tickets (this time it was $4 tickets, up from $3 last year when it happened on Labor Day weekend).

With Sunday’s grosses all estimates, those $4 admissions will skew results. — inclduing whether “Gran Turismo” (Sony) or “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) will be #1. Sony claimed $17.3 million; Warners countered with $17.1 million. To be clear, that means WB believes Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster (now over $590 million domestic) gross will increase by 45 percent from Saturday to Sunday over Saturday; Sony has a much more modest increase for “Turismo,” up six percent.

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That’s a big leap of faith on Warners’ part. They’re guessing that the top film of the year also will engender the biggest interest in $4 tickets. (What better day to see it again?) Sony’s weekend estimates for “Gran Turismo” include over $3 million from sneak previews from the two prior weekends. This doesn’t violate industry practice, since all legitimate ticket sales before opening Friday count toward that weekend. However, going so far as to include two weekends of previews may be unprecedented, and certainly aggressive. In an case, bragging rights as #1 is a distant second to long-term performance.

Three films are fighting for 10th place with “Haunted Mansion” (Disney), “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” (Paramount), and “Talk to Me” (A24). All have estimates within $25,000, which is way too close to determine.

As for National Cinema Day, its success is debatable. There’s the question of how much bottom-line business it took away, as well as how it affected individual films ranging from the opening weekend for “Turismo” to “Oppenheimer,” which remained at near capacity with seats that cost up to $30.

BOTTOMS, from left: Ayo Edebiri, Rachel Sennott, Zamani Wilder, Summer Joy Campbell, Havana Rose Liu,  Kaia Gerber, Virginia Tucker, 2023. © United Artists Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Bottoms”©United Artists/Courtesy Everett Collection

One film clearly affected is “Bottoms” (MGM). Emma Seligman’s fight club for gay girls in high school comedy, after its SXSW success and ongoing strong reviews, saw near-sellouts at most shows Friday and Saturday in 10 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. It grossed $516,000 estimated, or nearly $52,000 per theater. A full-price Sunday likely would have made a great gross even bigger.

“Turismo” had a mid-range budget ($60 million before marketing). It’s possible getting more people into theaters could help it going forward. The video game translation got a high-end A Cinemascore (far better than its subpar reviews) and positive word of mouth might help sustain it.

The $90 million-$95 million total this weekend (bigger range than normal at this point) all but guarantees the summer season will achieve the much-vaunted $4 billion total, up from $3.4 billion last year. It needs around $100 million over the next 11 days, which includes the expected decent opening of “The Equalizer 3” (Sony) next weekend.

Year to date is around 25 percent ahead of 2022, which continues to suggest reaching $9 billion for the year. However, schedule changes like “Dune 2” (WB) moving to 2024 won’t help.

Two other new films made the top 10. “Retribution” (Roadside Attractions), the latest Liam Neeson actioner, took eighth place with $3,345,000. “The Hill” (Briarcliff), reuniting Dennis Quaid and Scott Glenn from “The Right Stuff” in a sports biopic, came in #9 with $2,515,000.

Last week’s #1 “Blue Beetle” is now #3 with $12.8 million, down 49 percent. “Strays” (Universal) fell to #7, down 44 percent, to $4.6 million.

Helen Mirren in "Golda"
Helen Mirren in “Golda” Courtesy Bleecker Street/Jasper Wolf

“Golda” (Bleecker Street), with Helen Mirren as the Israeli Prime Minister, had an 883 theater run with over $1.7 million in. Mirren’s performance received critical praise, but the film did not.

“Bottoms” soared with a particularly strong performance at multiple Alamo locations, particularly at its Brooklyn theater. As with many platform results, good numbers don’t automatically mean wider success, but we suspect the film’s appeal won’t be limited to these initial locations. It expands to 700 theaters next week.

Noteworthy among several other new specialized openers is “Fremont” (Music Box). It opened in four San Francisco Bay-area independent theaters. That makes its $16,000 gross more impressive for this Sundance-premiered title about an Afghan translator adapting to American life. It opens in New York and Los Angeles Friday.

The Top 10

1. Gran Turismo (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 46; Est. budget: $60 million

$17,300,000 in 3,856 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $4,487; Cumulative: $17,300,000

2. Barbie (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend #2

$17,100,000 (-19%) in 3,736 (-267) theaters; PTA: $4,577; Cumulative: $594,801

3. Blue Beetle (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last week #1

$12,765,000 (-49%) in 3,871 (no change) theaters; PTA: $3,298; Cumulative: $46,309,000

4. Oppenheimer (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #3

$9,000,000 (-16%) in 2,872 (-449) theaters; PTA: $3,134; Cumulative: $300,024,000

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Paramount) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$6,100,000 (-29%) in 3,145 (-332) theaters; PTA: $1,940; Cumulative: $98,143,000

6. Meg 2: The Trench (WB) Week 3; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$5,100,000 (-25%) in 2,932 (-470) theaters; PTA: $1,739; Cumulative: $74,333,000

7. The Strays (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$4,650,000 (-44%) in 3,223 theaters; PTA: $1,439; Cumulative: $16,126,000

8. Retribution (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 43

$3,349,000 in 1,750 theaters; PTA: $1,913; Cumulative: $3,349,000

9. The Hill (Briarcliffe) NEW

$2,515,000 in 1,570 theaters; PTA: $1,602; Cumulative: $2,515,000

10. (tie) Haunted Mansion (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #8

$2,100,000 (-31%) in 1,630 (-550) theaters; PTA: $1,602; Cumulative: $62,257,000

10. (tie) Talk to Me (A24) Week 5; Last weekend #7

$2,089,000 (-33%) in 1,321 1,789 (-468) theaters; PTA: $1,581; Cumulative: $41,066,000

10. (tie) Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning: Part One (Paramount) Week 7; Last weekend #9

$2,075,000 (-41%) in 1,608 (-527) theaters; PTA: $1,235; Cumulative: $168,063,000

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.

Bottoms (MGM) NEW – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2023

$516,254 in 10 theaters; PTA: $51,625

Golda (Bleecker Street) NEW – Metacritic: 49; Festivals include: Berlin 2023

$1,723,000 in 883 theaters; PTA: $1,952

Fremont (Music Box) NEW – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest 2023

$16,236 in theaters; PTA: $4,059

Scrapper (Kino Lorber) NEW – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Sundance 2023

$15,079 in 4 theaters; PTA: $3,770

Piaffe (Oscilloscope) NEW – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Locarno 2022

$5,120 in 1 theater; PTA: $5,120

The Elephant 6 Recording Company (Greenwich) NEW – Festivals include: Doc NYC 2022

$14,000 in 5 theaters; PTA: $2,800

Oldboy (Neon) REISSUE Week 2

$182,000 in 182 (-68) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $2,668,000 (adjusted)

Jules (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$36,350 in 65 (-580) theaters; Cumulative: $1,770,000

Shortcomings (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$7,208 in 14 (-10) theaters; Cumulative: $653,313

CatVideoFest 2023 (Oscilloscope) Week 4

$39,350 in 22 (-2) theaters; Cumulative: $

Theater Camp (Searchlight) Week 7

$120,000 in 120 (-10) theaters; Cumulative: $3,638,000

The Miracle Club (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$ in () theaters; Cumulative: $

Have You Got It Yet? (Abramorama) Week 7

$6,015 in 8 (+3) theaters; Cumulative: $114,407

Sound of Freedom (Angel) Week 8 2,100

$2,001,000 (-23%) in 1,602 (-550); Cumulative: $181,037,000

Asteroid City (Focus) Week 11

$76,000 in 310 (+266) theaters; Cumulative: $28,031,000

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