Weekend Box Office (7/4/22) It’s Official! COVID may no longer be a problem for moviegoers

Hollywood has been worried and biting their lip since COVID about if older adults (55+), and especially kids and families, will return to theaters with the pandemic, especially given the availability of streaming. And now, we’ve just had Top Gun 2, and Minions 2 of all movies, break box office records over Memorial Day and Independence Day, and will likely become the two BIGGEST movies of the summer. Take that, streaming!

Minions 2: A lesson in social media marketing

Starting with the raw numbers, #1 was Minions: Rise of Gru, earning $107 million over the 3-Day weekend. Again, the biggest Independence Day opening weekend ever. (beating Transformers 3’s $97 million opening in 2011) And Hollywood was worried this franchise might be getting stale… Throw in positive reviews (71% Rotten Tomatoes) and solid word of mouth (“A” grade from CinemaScore), the film may likely cross a billion after this.

Has the heart simply grown fonder for these little yellow minions? Or is there generational nostalgia for the Despicable Me franchise, for kids who grew up on it and now are adults? I’m willing to say that’s what happened, with young men dressing up in business suits and posting themselves on TikTok, while making memes and posting about how important the film is. 

Social Media Trends and games like this will likely be discussed for years to come, compared to another memed about movie Morbius, also joked about earlier this year on social media as the beginning of “summer of Morbius.” Hell Sony even re-released the movie earlier in June in the hopes those jokes would translate to more ticket sales. It didn’t, as that film then bombed again. 

The key difference here is the ironic Minions memes were joked about and made out of love, while it seemed Morbius was joked out of spite. Lessons learned from social media games…

Either way, this opening is a huge win for Universal’s marketing team, Illumination Animation’s brand, and is encouraging for upcoming animated films at the box office. 

Top Gun 2: the film that just won’t stop flying in $

It’s impossible to predict the legs of Top Gun Maverick, as every optimistic prediction I’ve had for it at the box office just keeps getting topped. It may end up being the biggest movie of the YEAR (give or take Black Panther 2 or Avatar 2), but it’s become a cultural phenomenon, on par with a James Cameron movie, having remarkably small drops throughout the month of June and now July. It’s… just not stopping.

Another $25.8 million -14% from last week, with $570 million so far and $1.1 billion worldwide. A phenomenal drop over the 4th of July holiday, for what is easily Cruise’s biggest movie ever. What a win for the star/filmmaker/producer.

It should pass Titanic eventually ($659 million) to become Paramount’s biggest hit ever in the U.S. too, and might be nominated for a few Oscars when all is done. Who knows how high this Tom Cruise jet will keep flying…. Maybe $700?

#3 Elvis had a nice holiday hold, again encouraging for older audiences returning to movie theaters. The well reviewed (78% on Rotten Tomatoes) and received by audiences (A- CinemaScore) earned another $19 Million over the weekend, and may end around $110-120 million in the U.S. 

It cost $85 Million to produce, and will likely earn above Rocketman’s $195 Million worldwide finish. It’s a hit for Warner Brothers, and may even earn Austin Butler an Oscar.

#4 Jurassic World: Dominion (the finale?) had a healthy drop, earning another $15.7 million (-41%) for $331 million so far. It’ll probably end under $1 Billion (blame the fact it earned less money in China, not the word of mouth, audiences thought this movie was sufficiently fine [A- CinemaScore]), so a finish in the $950~ million range is still pretty good, and over 4x it’s budget. Expect another Jurassic movie from Universal down the road, although probably disconnected from this trilogy.

#5 The crowd pleasing horror-chiller The Black Phone earned $12 over the holiday (-48%), for $50 million so far in the U.S. That’s a big win for Director Scott Derrickson and Universal Studios/BlumHouse, and a reminder how thrillers like this shouldn’t go straight to streaming.

#6 Speaking of lessons that should be learned from not going straight to streaming, Lightyear, the origin story around the toy who can’t fly, had another ugly fall this weekend, -64% for $6.6 million, with “only” $190 million worldwide. The worst theatrical bomb in Pixar Animation history.

Yeah, the anticipation of its Disney+ release, and the poor concept killed this. Disney+ received the better, more interesting Pixar flicks (Soul, Luca, Turning Red) to increase streaming subscriptions. But conditioning families to stream animated tentpoles for FREE was a massive long-term mistake, and leads me concerned for their upcoming Strange World sci-fi adventure this Thanksgiving.

It’s ironic how much Disney and Hollywood in general have emphasized streaming as a priority since COVID began. And now this Summer, the films that were instead delayed and did NOT go to streaming, are soaring to infinity and beyond at the box office. And save for Marvel and likely Avatar, Disney is the one studio that hasn’t yet recovered, partially because they’ve emphasized streaming releases first.

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