Weekend Box Office (7/17/22) Thor has pretty terrible second weekend drop (for Marvel), are Disney+ and fan fatigue to blame? Meanwhile Crawdads sings to an excellent debut

Note: I admittedly had too many headlines to choose from this weekend (Thor crashes down to earth, Thor shows Marvel isn’t worthy anymore, Thor shows not all gods are immortal), so don’t begrudge me for not being edgy with my opening headline.

Thor: Love and Thunder is again the top movie at the U.S. box office, earning another $46 million, dropping a “really bad” -68% from last weeks opening. While that’s the worst second weekend drop ever for a Marvel-Cinematic-Universe movie, it’s still earned $233 million for its first 10 days in theaters. That’s solid by most rational standards, but not good for Marvel. 

How bad is this? Well, Marvel movies that open in mid-July tend to crash in their second weekends. Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Widow all took drops between 61% to 67% in their second weekends.

But Ant-Man 2 and Homecoming both recovered, and earned around 1.6x their first respective 10-day totals. Both were seen as hits. Black Widow (which had Disney+ cut into its box office) did not recover as well, only making 1.4x its first 10 days. That’s a difference of nearly $50 million.

With bad reviews and audience reactions (only a B+ CinemaScore and 3.5 stars on PostTrak), plus anticipation for Thor 4 streaming for free on Disney+, the film may have legs closer to Black Widow, or the much disliked Eternals last November.

That could mean an ending total of $315-$330 in the U.S. box office, on par with Thor 3 in 2017, despite this film opening bigger.

I’m concerned how much of a factor Disney+ will be on this film’s longevity. Maybe only the hardcore Marvel fans are showing up, while the casual fans are waiting until the movie is streaming free on Disney+.

Or, is fan fatigue happening, by this being the 29th movie in this saga? With over 4 movies and 5 Disney+ shows a year, it’s tough to know which projects moving forward are crucial to watch to understand the ongoing Marvel narrative. In the end, these are self-inflicted problems caused by Disney. 

It helps there’s basically nothing left playing in theaters as far as “superheroic fun for families”, beyond the animated DC League of Super-Pets on July 29 and The Rock’s Black Adam on October 21.

Because of that, Thor 4 could have longer legs throughout August and September.

I also wrote HERE about how the film’s mixed word of mouth is similar to 1997’s Batman 4: Batman and Robin. We’ve been down this road before.

I could be over-thinking how audiences are responding. Thor 4 has already passed $500 million worldwide, and should likely top the last Thor film’s worldwide 2017 total (without China and Russia) of $715 million. 

This could simply be another well-received “It’s entertaining, whatever” Marvel sequel, that will only perform a little better financially than Thor 3. They can’t all be Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Compare this to Top Gun Maverick, which has had no date planned for streaming / Video-On-Demand, and has been doing great with audiences all summer long.

Top Gun Maverick earned another $12 million (-23%) in its’ 8th-weekend, for $617.9 million in the U.S. and $1.236 billion so far, the biggest movie of the year. Easily one of the most impressive box office runs in my lifetime.

As for the rest of the box office, Minions 2: Rise of Gru earned another $26 million (-44%) in its third weekend, for $263 million so far. That’s a solid hold and a strong overall gross. Presuming it legs somewhere between Minions 1 and the last Despicable Me, this will likely end between $336 million and $380 million. Ironically, that would theoretically be more than Thor 4.

In smaller news, Sony’s $24 million budgeted Where the Crawdads Sing (starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, featuring a new Taylor Swift single, and based upon a very popular Delia Owens novel [12 million copies sold] ) debuted with an excellent $17 million over the weekend. Audiences reactions are good (A- CinemaScore, and 4 1/2 stars, 87% positive, 70% recommend on PostTrak).

The film, about a young woman raising herself in the marshlands after being left alone with her abusive father, is a character-focused story aimed at female adults. Considering this is one of the only “big” movies this summer aimed at adult women (that’s embarrassing), we can expect solid legs for this old-school potboiler/melodrama.

Not to be outdone, Warner Bros.’ buzzy and well-reviewed Elvis just passed $100 million in the U.S., earning another $7.6 million (-32%) in its 4th weekend. Interestingly, 71% of the audience has been women.

The musical biopic starring Austin Butler / Tom Hanks, directed by Baz Luhrmann, will soon become Warner Bros.’ biggest U.S. box office earner since Joker ($335 million in 2019) and behind The Batman ($370 million). Fantastic. This is a much needed win for the studio, and for bringing older audiences back to theaters.

Universal’s The Black Phone also passed $100 million worldwide this week, which propelled the Blumhouse studio’s lifetime total past $5 billion. This acclaimed and buzzy horror flick earned another $5.3 million (-31%) over its 4th weekend, a fantastic drop, despite now debuting on streaming. That gives the $19 million, R-rated flick a $72 million domestic cume, and much more money to come. That is assuming Universal’s own horror film Nope doesn’t take away its audience next weekend.

And that’s it for the weekend box office. What films are you still interested in seeing or hearing about? 

I’m personally most hyped for Nope next weekend. To me, the concept of “an epic original alien invasion thriller”, directed by Jordan Peele, sounds like an entertaining time at the movies and a great summer popcorn blockbuster. It also helps it has one of the better trailers I’ve seen so far this year.

But let’s see if the reviews are good, or if audiences even choose to show up. It cost $68 million to make, so I’m hoping for at least a $40-50 million debut. As always, we’ll see.

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