Weekend Box Office (7/24/22) Nope flies to $44 million debut, nice for an original thriller

Keke Palmer NOPE trailer Universal Pictures/Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In8fuzj3gck

Universal and Monkeypaw’s Nope flew off to a promising start, as the well-reviewed (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) and *mostly* well-received by audiences (B from CinemaScore – okay for a Horror movie) Jordan Peele adventure earned $44 million over its opening weekend.  

It’s far less than Jordan Peele’s last film, Us (that opened to $71 million), but Us had a lot more publicity, star-power, less cryptic marketing, compounded with the anticipation and expectation of the movie as a metaphorical sequel to Get Out.  But for an original thriller in this day and age, Nope’s opening is encouraging.

Nope is less a horror movie and more of a slow burn, sci-fi thriller, with interesting questions about the unknown and predators in nature (like a Spielberg adventure, ala Jaws or Close Encounters). 

It has a fun, original script (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer play Hollywood horse wranglers, who try to film footage of a predatory UFO), and has some satisfying ending twists and spectacularly filmed sequences of suspense. 

Yet it’s not a traditional horror movie, as it requires the audience to be patient for the “acts of terror”.  It will be interesting to see how audiences respond in the weeks to come.

Nope officially cost $69 million to make, and has open real estate to make serious theatrical money during August and September, as there are few competitors for moviegoers looking for a thriller/scary film this summer. 

As a filmmaker, Jordan Peele is easily comparable to M Night Shyamalan, or maybe Christopher Nolan.  It’s not like many high-concept filmmakers have risen over the last 20 years, who consistently make original chilling thrillers that also become box office smashes.

While Nope clearly isn’t as popular as Jordan Peele’s previous 2 horror films, it does point to a positive relationship between Universal Studios and Peele in the years to come. 

The $250 million budgeted Thor: Love and Thunder earned another $22.55 million (-51.6%) in its third weekend, and has $599 million worldwide so far. 

We’re still looking at a fourth Thor movie that should end up just over/under the total of Thor: Ragnarök, both in the U.S. ($315 million) and worldwide ($712 million without Russia and China). That’s damn good for any fourth entry of any franchise. Word-of-mouth and audience reactions have been more mixed than previous Marvel movies, but the film is performing well by any rational standard.

Plus after yesterday’s Marvels’ Comic Con presentation, which announced almost 5 new exciting projects (including Fantastic Four and two new Avengers), fans now have less reason to be pessimistic about the franchises’ future.

Minions: The Rise of Gru earned another $18 million (-33%) in its 4th weekend for $298 million in the U.S. It’s earned better reviews and legs than the first Minions (which earned $288 million at this point), pointing to plenty of more life in this franchise. The $80 million budgeted prequel/sequel should end above $900 million worldwide. Despicable Me 4 is coming in summer 2024.

Where the Crawdads Sing earned a $10.5 million (-39%) in its 2nd weekend. With good word of mouth, this $24 million thriller should end with $65-70 million domestically. That’s a terrific result for the kind of movie that has spent the last two years getting banished to streaming, and should encourage Sony to release more of their films to theaters first.

Tom Cruise proves again that he’s unkillable, with Top Gun: Maverick dropping -16% (a phenomenal hold), earning earn another $10.27 million in its 9th weekend, for $636 million so far in the U.S. The film just passed $1.283 billion worldwide.

The word of mouth is still on fire, plus with plenty of sky still to cover throughout August and September to earn more money. Can Tom Cruise be stopped?

Warner Bros.’ Elvis earned another $6.58 million (-17%) over its 5th weekend (also a phenomenal hold), as the Baz Luhrmann-directed musical biopic has $119 million in the U.S. so far. Still expecting to finish with over $140 million, and much more worldwide.

As for next weekend, DC’s League of Super Pets opens. Animated movies have done well at the box office as of recently (The Bad Guys, Sing 2, Minions 2 etc.), and from what I’ve been told the movie is cute. It’s sold as The Secret Life of Pets but with superheroes, starring Kevin Hart and The Rock. 

I’m not sure what the budget is for this, but a $35-40 million opening would be pretty great. I would laugh hard if this film opened bigger than the $200 million budgeted Lightyear.

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

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