news ‘The Woman King’ Is an Original, Black Film with a Female Director, and It’s #1

The Woman King” (Sony) saved theaters this weekend, selling 40 percent of all tickets as it grossed $19 million. That’s at the high end of expectations for the mid-budget ($50 million) production directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood that stars Viola Davis as a general training young female soldiers in 19th century Dahomey.

Driven by a Black female audience that skews older, this is an impressive start for what could be a long-running success. It’s the first film to get an A+ Cinemascore since “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) and it has potential to expand to broader audiences as word of mouth spreads. It’s also the latest 2022 non-franchise release (following “Uncharted,” “Bullet Train,” “Where the Crawdads Sing”) to get positive or better results. Sony’s low-budget “The Invitation” was also a recent #1 release.

“The Woman King” fed the hunger of many moviegoers with its combination of action, history, strong female and African characters, freshness, and originality. Superficially, it couldn’t appear more different than “Maverick,” but with the communal experience of seeing it with a crowd, and the impact of action on a large screen, it contains many of the same elements that elevated Tom Cruise’s film to huge success.

All the top five films this weekend are non-franchise, a rarity that last occurred in mid-March 2o21. This has more to do with the absence of sequels and comic-book releases in recent weeks; since July, studios largely vacated the release calendar of high-end titles.

Justin Long as Cale in 20th Century Studios' BARBARIAN, exclusively on Hulu. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Barbarian

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

The #2 film, “Barbarian” (Disney), defied two norms in its second weekend. The acclaimed horror/thriller fell only 40 percent, far less than most genre films — even with an often-deadly C+ Cinemascore. This very low-cost (around $10 million before marketing) Fox production is exactly the sort of release that theaters need studios to make. It’s the antithesis of what Disney normally does, and hopefully its reception is getting the studio’s attention.

“See How They Run” (Searchlight) at #3 and #4 “Pearl” (A24) at #4— so close that the order may reverse — could only manage a bit over $3 million with wide runs just short of 3,000 theaters. Both managed per-theater averages of only a little over $1,000. “Pearl,” Ti West’s “X” prequel, reportedly only cost $1 million to produce and eventual home revenues will likely elevate its prospects. Searchlight’s London-set murder mystery received only modestly positive reviews — not strong enough to draw the needed adult audience. Even with a B- Cinemascore, there is still hope for it to see stronger results over the next few weeks.

“Bullet Train” at #5 had the second-best hold (-24 percent) in the top 10, with #7, “D.C. League of Super-Pets” (WBD) down only 18 percent even with home availability. The Brad Pitt-starrer, aided by the sparse release schedule, now should surpass $100 million — an outcome that seemed unlikely after its middling first two weekends.

Moonage Daydream, David Bowie

“Moonage Daydream”

Neon

On 170 IMAX screens, the David Bowie documentary “Moonage Daydream” (Neon) managed to sneak in at #10 with $1,225,000. That’s a PTA of $7,206, helped by elevated premium prices. In an era when specialized companies are releasing titles far wider than usual, this is a standout figure; only “The French Dispatch” managed this level or higher over the last year. It expands to 600 locations this Friday.

Alas the total results of all films remains in the dumps. It looks like around $49 million. That’s 44 percent of the same weekend in 2019, and reduces the four-week running comparison to three years ago to 44 percent as well. That’s the lowest is has been all year. At least it was anticipated.

Other limited titles of note: “Clerks III” (Lionsgate, initially as a Fathom event) didn’t report, but looks to have done around $600,000 after $1,500,000 from earlier weekday results. Kevin Smith’s film played in 830 theaters, for a PTA of around $2,500. It’s welcome extra income for theaters.

“Confess, Fletch” (Paramount) the ’80s detective comedy franchise remade with Jon Hamm is also out on PVOD. It generated a low-end $260,000 in 516 theaters, but it’s #4 on iTunes.

“The Silent Twins” (Focus), which premiered at Cannes but received only mildly favorable reviews, managed only $102,000 in 279 theaters for a PTA of $366. It will be eligible for PVOD release shortly, with the hope that nationwide play elevates awareness.

The Top 10

1. The Woman King
(Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 77; Est. budget: $50 million

$19,000,000 in 3,765 theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $5,046

2. Barbarian (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$6,300,000 (-40%) in 2,340 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,692; Cumulative: $20,915,000

3. Pearl (A24) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 73; Est. budget: $1 million

$3,125,000 in 2,935 theaters; PTA: $1,065; Cumulative: $3,125,000

4. See How They Run (Searchlight) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 60

$3,110,000 in 2,404 theaters; PTA: $1,290; Cumulative: $3,100,000

5. Bullet Train (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #3

$2,500,000 (-24%) in 2,602 (-454) theaters; PTA: $961; Cumulative: $96,381,000

6. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 17; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD

$2,180,000 (-31%) in 2,604 (-401) theaters; PTA: $837; Cumulative: $709,055,000

7. DC League of Super-Pets (WBD) Week 7; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$2,175,000 (-18%) in 2,756 (-287) theaters; PTA: $789; Cumulative: $87,860,000

8. The Invitation (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend: #5; also on PVOD

$1,700,000 (-36%) in 2,425 (-692) theaters; PTA: $701; Cumulative: $21,469,000

9. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) Week 12; Last weekend #9; also on PVOD

$1,320,000 (-24%) in 1,970 (-304) theaters; PTA: $776; Cumulative: $364,100,000

10. Moonage Daydream (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 83

$1,225,000 in 170 theaters; PTA: $7,260; Cumulative: $1,225,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases​


Clerks 3 (Lionsgate) NEW – Metacritic: 51

$(est.) 600,000 in 830 theaters; PTA: $723; Cumulative: $(est.) 2,100,000

Confess Fletch (Paramount) NEW – Metacritic: 64; also on PVOD

$260,000 in 516 theaters; PTA: $504

The Silent Twins (Focus) NEW – Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Cannes 2022

$102,000 in 279 theaters; PTA: $366

Running the Bases (UPU2) NEW

$545,500 in 1,080 theaters; PTA: $505

God’s Country (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$300,000 in 785 theaters; PTA: $382

The African Desperate (MUBI) NEW – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: New Directors/New Films 2022

$12,126 in 2 theaters; PTA: $6,063

Brahmastra Part 1: Shiva (Disney) Week 2

$1,100,000 in 810 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,358; Cumulative: $6,770,000

Hockeyland (Greenwich) Week 2

$50,000 in 158 (+96) theaters; PTA: $341

Gigi & Nate (Roadside Attractions) – Week 3

$63,140 in 293 (-977) theaters; Cumulative: $2,175,000

Orphan: First Kill (Paramount) Week 5; also on PVOD and Paramount Plus

$135,464 in 224 (-204) theaters; Cumulative: $5,350,000

Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) Week 7

$78,385 in 361 (-290) theaters; Cumulative: $11,355,000

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$15,596 in 51 (-22) theaters; Cumulative: $1,021,000

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24) Week 13; also on PVOD

$33,321 in 116 (-66) theaters; Cumulative: $6,277,000

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 26; also on PVOD

$15,100 in 43 (-3) theaters; Cumulative: $69,975,000
 
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