Weekend Box Office (7/31/22) ‘DC League Of Super-Pets’ Flies To $23M Opening, ‘Nope’ falls down to earth with -58% drop

DC’s League of Super Pets, the Dwayne Johnson/Kevin Hart animated action comedy, opened this weekend. The film essentially pitched itself as “The Secret Life of Pets, but co-starring the Justice League,” and earned surprisingly okay reviews (72% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and “fine” reactions from audiences (an A- from CinemaScore). 

The $23 million opening was lower than expected, probably because the film plays like a tired version of The Lego Batman, and The Secret Life of Pets.  

Maybe the filmmakers thought having big comedy stars, like The Rock and Kevin Hart, combined with superheroes would add energy, but it’s not enough to create a really exciting few hours.

It’s kind of funny that Dwayne Johnson was originally supposed to open this weekend with another Warner Bros./DC movie, Black Adam. (Talk about being all places at once). 

But that project has been delayed until October, due to the backlog of special effects at post-production VFX warehouses.  Probably a good thing, as the positive buzz that began at Comic-Con last week will hopefully snowball over the next few months, so that more fans will be excited for Black Adam by its release in the fall.

As for Super Pets, here’s a good comparison. The Bad Guys was another animated movie released in April 2022.  Both movies had little competition when it came to family films, and both cost $80-90 million to make.  Super Pets’ $23 million opening is equal to what The Bad Guys ran out the gate with.

The Bad Guys had slightly better word of mouth (an A CinemaScore), but still flew high to eventually earn $96.6 million in the U.S. and $250+ million worldwide.  Based on that, one would hope Super Pets can pull in similar numbers, which would be pretty profitable – despite being a more tired and predictable film.

In other news Nope fell hard, dropping a steep 58.2% in its second weekend.

While Jordan Peele’s last film, Us, dropped 53% in it’s second weekend (a little better but in a similar ballpark), Us had a bigger opening ($71 million vs. $44 for Nope) and cost less (Us cost $20 million vs. Nope cost $69 million).

This leads to the question – Why is Nope struggling to find an audience?  

One theory I have is: the Jordan Peele brand is highly intertwined with horror. From Candyman, Get Out, to Us. Although Nope has a few scary moments, it’s a slower film, with a sci-fi bent, and complex themes that might leave an audience scratching their heads to get the point. 

Most people like to know what they’re getting into, before trekking to the theater and paying their $15.  

Maybe in Peele’s quest to be original and thought provoking, he’s made a film that leaves the audience not really sure they got the point.

Peele has had a string of successes that have raised his profile as a director.  Yet if Nope continues to disappoint in the upcoming weeks, it will be interesting to see if he gets as open a check book for his next film.

Thor 4 recovered somewhat in its fourth weekend, only falling 41.5% earning $13.17 million. The Taika Waititi-directed sequel is still expected to finish above what Thor Ragnarok ended with: $340-350 million domestically, and around $750 million worldwide (without China/Russia).

That’s a win, even if it’s less than Disney likely would have hoped for.

Minions: The Rise of Gru ran away with another $10.98 million weekend (39% drop) for $321 million so far.  It aims to finish near the ending totals of Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me 2 ($365-$370 million), as one of the biggest hits ever for Illumination Animation.

Top Gun: Maverick earned another $8.2 million (-20%) in its 10th weekend (!!), and is soon flying past $650 million domestic.

That puts it within a week of passing Jurassic World ($652 million in 2015) and Titanic ($659 million) to later become the 7th biggest film of all time in the U.S. box office. Wow!

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?

Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing continued to leg out, helped by being the summer’s only “big” movie for adult women. The Daisy Edgar-Jones $24 million melodrama earned $7.56 million (-27%) in its 3rd weekend, and should pass $70 million domestic by the end.  

That’s a terrific result for the kind of drama that has spent the last two years getting banished to streaming, and should encourage Sony to release more of their films to theaters first.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Elvis is also benefiting from adult audiences trekking out to the theater, as the Baz-Luhrmann-directed epic earned another $6 million weekend (-12%, a phenomenal hold). 

At this rate, the $85 million Austin Butler/Tom Hanks musical biopic could reach $150 million domestically even before it becomes a major awards season player. 

As for next weekend, Sony’s Bullet Train will open as the last “big” movie of the summer. The action thriller has a stacked cast of Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Bryan Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

It’s also from director David Leitch, the filmmaker behind John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2

The hope would be that this $80-100 million budgeted action film would open with around $30 million, to then leg out for the rest of summer. But even if Bullet Train falls short of that, the film has clear sailing for the rest of August and September to find moviegoers.

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

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