news No Way to Theaters for Many as Nor’easter Storm Makes an Already Awful Weekend Worse

Maybe Sony knew something when they delayed “Morbius” from its planned release this weekend. Omicron might not have been as harmful as it appeared when the studio delayed the film until April 1. But the winter blast that disrupted outdoor activity in the Northeast would have reduced its hopes for a strong opening.

In its absence (and without any other wide opening), the three day total will come to only $35 million. That makes it the weakest weekend since May 21-23 last year, just before “A Quiet Place II” opened and theaters started seeing steady improvement. This is how low a number this is – the last time the lowest gross of a year for a weekend was less than twice as much was in 2014.

Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Sony) scored its likely final #1 placement with an $11 million take, down 21 percent. Though a good hold, that put it at the lower end of drops in a weekend when moviegoers mostly had little choice other than what was already in theaters. That puts the staggering total (for any period, let alone one challenged like this) to $736 million, with an ultimate domestic take of $775 million likely. Dates outside the U.S./Canada, with China not played so far, have added another $1 billion.

This weekend only grossed 43 percent of what the same date did in 2020, pre-COVID. That weekend had the Super Bowl to contend with (two weeks later this year) and, as usual, only minor distributor interest in launching new titles. The storm, though it reduced sales by perhaps $5 million this weekend, is far less a factor than the game normally is.

With this weekend added, our four-week rolling comparison (a far better gauge than any one week) to the same period two years ago is now at 45 percent. Obviously a lack of titles is a major reason, but the shortfall also reflects an overall drop in performance for most films compared to what previous results would have been.

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, from left: Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Logan Kim, 2021. ph: Kimberley French / © Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife”

Everett Collection

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” (Sony), “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists), and “American Underdog” (Lionsgate) all managed to improve on last weekend among Top 10 titles. “The King’s Man” (Disney) dropped only two percent. The biggest drops were the second weekend of “Redeeming Love” (Universal), off 48 percent, and “Scream” (Paramount), down 40 percent in week three. Oddest of all is “The 355” (Universal), which never found any real audience. It is now out on PVOD, yet fell only 12 percent. More grist for the sense that marketing for home release bleeds over to help theaters.

Clean” (IFC), with Adrian Brody as a sanitation worker confronted by his past, managed $165,000 in 258 theaters while also debuting on VOD. It also is #5 on iTunes among all movies. Like most of the titles unlikely to score multi-hundred screens, it managed under $1,000 on average.

Searchlight’s unusual alternative black and white version release of Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” pushed its total over $10 million in 1,103 theaters (including some color dates). The PTA? $483. Similarly, “Parallel Mothers,” in 684 theaters (by far the most for any Pedro Almodovar film) passed $1 million, but with $458 per theater. “Gamestop: Rise of the Players” (Super Ltd.) took in $80,000 in 267 – $300 per. “Flee” (Neon) expanded to 220, $70,000, PTA $318. These grosses help out all these films, which are able to get dates because of a high-end availability of screens. But none show signs of bringing in reluctant older viewers for specific titles that otherwise would be doing far better.

Among more limited openings, Oscilloscope’s reissue of John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus” managed under current conditions a decent $12,000 at New York’s IFC Center for five days, including about half during the storm-challenged weekend. “Compartment No. 6” (Sony Pictures Classics), Finland’s short-listed Oscar International entry, managed only $15,133 over the same period in three New York/Los Angeles dates. Michel Franco’s “Sundown” (Bleecker Street) with Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a married couple whose Mexican vacation is disrupted took in $24,000 in six initial weekend dates. Woody Allen’s two year old “Rifkin’s Festival” (MPI), ahead of its home release, managed only $18,000 in 26 theaters, a staggeringly weak result based on his long history (mostly poor reviews added to the resistance).

The Top Ten

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #1

$11,000,000 (-21%) in 3,675 (-30) theaters; PTA: $2,993; Cumulative: $735,886,000

2. Scream (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$7,350,000 (-40%) in 3,518 (-48) theaters; PTA: $2,089; Cumulative: $62,139,000

3. Sing 2 (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #3; also on PVOD

$4,800,000 (-17%) in 3,450 (+16) theaters; PTA: $1,391; Cumulative: $134,509,000

4. Redeeming Love (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$1,850,000 (-48%) in 1,963 (+60) theaters; PTA: $942; Cumulative: $6,532,000

5. The King’s Man (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #5

$1,754,000 (-2%) in 2,440 (+125) theaters; PTA: $719; Cumulative: $34,044,000

6. The 355 (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,400,000 (-12%) in 2,513 (-96) theaters; PTA: $557; Cumulative: $13,090,000

7. American Underdog (Lionsgate) Week 6; Last weekend #7

$1,225,000 (+4%) in 2,113 (-51) theaters; PTA: $580; Cumulative: $23,557,000

8. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) Week 11; Last weekend #11; also on PVOD

$770,000 (+18%) in 1,170 (+109) theaters; PTA: $658; Cumulative: $128,059,000

9. Licorice Pizza (United Artists) Week 10; Last weekend #10

$691,187 (+5%) in 772 (no change) theaters; PTA: $772; Cumulative: $11,817,000

10. West Side Story (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #9

$614,000 (-14%) in 1,335 (+55) theaters; PTA: $460; Cumulative: $36,035,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Clean (IFC) – Metacritic: 43; Festivals include: Tribeca 2021; also on VOD

$165,000 in 256 theaters; PTA: $640

Sundown (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2021

$24,069 in 6 theaters; PTA: $4,012

Gamestop: Rise of the Players (Super Ltd.)

$80,011 in 267 theaters; PTA: $300

Rifkin’s Festival (MPI) – Metacritic: 43; Festivals include: San Sebastian 2020

$(est.) 18,000 in 26 theaters; PTA: $692

Compartment Number 6 (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto 2021

$9,353 in 3 theaters; PTA: $3,118; Cumulative (5 days): $15,133

Shortbus (Oscilloscope) REISSUE

$(est.) 6,000 in 1 theater; Cumulative (5 days): $12,000

Belle (GKids) Week 3

$326,182 in 676 (-509) theaters; Cumulative: $3,367,000

Who We Are (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$1,684 in 3 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $36,041

Jockey (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$13,009 in 21 (+9) theaters; Cumulative: $36,981

Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 111

$312,930 in 684 (+573) theaters; Cumulative: $1,003,000

Nightmare Alley (Searchlight) Week 7

$534,000 in 1,103 (+703) theaters; Cumulative: $10,354,000

Drive My Car (Janus) Week 9

$103,488 in 114 (+18) theaters; Cumulative: $807,010

Flee (Neon) Week 9

$70,015 in 220 (+183) theaters; Cumulative: $186,139

Belfast (Focus) Week 12; also on PVOD

$120,000 in 200 (+137) theaters; Cumulative: $7,200,000