Creed III launches in March
It spawned two box office heroes this weekend: “Creed III” and Marvel’s Jonathan Majors and MGM with its first release under Amazon ownership.
Franchise fatigue was such last week. “Creed III” (MGM) will be about 50 percent better than pre-weekend projections, with nearly $59 million.
The ninth film in the “Rocky” franchise and the first without Sylvester Stallone, it is the third in the Adonis Creed reboot and the first to be directed by triple-hyphenate Michael B. Jordan. A critical March begins that will see three other sequels with strong potential debuts. If we’re going to hit the $9 billion US/Canadian gross minimum target by 2023 (still a long way from the pre-Covid total), franchises need to lead the way. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (Disney) fell short of expectations, but the new “Creed” suggests that theaters can thrive beyond Marvel.
The comparison to the first two “Creed” entries is tricky: Both opened on the pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday, which makes the weekend analysis suspect even before noting that ticket prices are now significantly higher. But any threequel that puts up this strong number is impressive.
The credit is due in part to interest in Adonis Creed’s new challenger. This comes in the form of Jonathan Majors as Damian Anderson. The actor is on a roll, to say the least. The actor, who first gained attention with the 2019 Sundance hit “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” stole the show as Kang the Conqueror in “Quantumania.” This movie was the first in the last two weeks. It is not the best in either, but it clearly leads in both. It’s rare, to say the least, for one person to star in two number one titles in a row. A study of the last decade revealed that the last time it happened was in January 2013, when “Mama” replaced “Zero Dark 30,” both of which starred Jessica Chastain.
Two important footnotes to this opening: This is the first film to be released under the MGM brand (previously a United Artists-distributed production). Movies that are part of Amazon, which bought MGM and its assets last year, are released under that name, not the parent company’s.
This is significant because it reinforces theater commitment and continuity compared to what UA previously handled. These included No Time to Die (Bond is now Amazon’s domestic franchise) and The House of Gucci, as well as several more recent award contenders. This strategy from Amazon is a huge boost for the future of cinemas.
“Creed III” is actually more open than “No Time to Die”. This one comes out of the box with a punch. Next month, Ben Affleck’s “Air.” The expectation that theater should be the priority is clearly reinforced by the opening performance of “Creed”.
Also of note: At a time when the special is lagging at the box office, it’s notable that both Jordan and Majors first gained attention in indie films (“Fruitvale Station” for Jordan). As a reminder, the seeds for the existence of blockbusters often come from minor motion pictures.
Two other new releases entered the top 10. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the Swordsmith Village” (Crunchyroll), which is actually three co-edited episodes of a Japanese anime television series, finished fourth with just over $10 million. Lionsgate recently landed Guy Ritchie’s “Operation Fortune: Russe de Guerre,” rumored for a quick PVOD release, in seventh place with just over $3 million.
Last week’s leaders were significantly reduced this weekend. “Quantumania” dropped another 61 percent after dropping 70 percent in its second weekend. “Cocaine Bear” (Universal) fell 53 percent after a strong debut. “Jesus Revolution” (Lionsgate) held better at No. 5, but still dropped 46 percent. Rounding out the top 10 was “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney), at No. 6, down 26 percent, now at $670 million domestically.
Compared to last year, even with a strong weekend, the challenges are obvious. That weekend brought in $116 million, but that’s only 70 percent of the same weekend in 2022 when “The Batman” was released. This year is still up 37 percent year-to-date, though that number will decline. The rolling four-week comparison with pre-Covid dates is 84 percent.
Unreported gross new limited special edition. Oscar nominee “The Quiet Girl” (Neon) expanded to 18 theaters for a modest $72,000 in its second weekend. Several candidates for the Oscar for the best film were boosted by promotions in the main theater circles. As usual, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24) led all but “The Way of Water” with another $175,000.
The 2023 edition of “Oscar Shorts” (ShortsTV) is doing well, with $370,000 in its third week and nearly $2.3 million to date. This suggests that the program will be close to previous numbers.
The Top 10
1. Creed III (MGM) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 74; Evening. budget: $75 million
$58,658,000 in 4,007 theaters; PTA (Theatrical Average): $14,639; Total: $58,658,000
2. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney) Week 3; #1 last weekend
$12,471,000 (-61%) at 3,835 theaters (-520); PTA: $3,260; Total: $186,799,000
3. Cocaine Bear (Universal) Week 2; #2 last weekend
$11,020,000 (-53%) at 3,571 (+37) theaters; PTA: $3,086; Total: $41,288,000
4. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – To the village of the swordsmith (Crunchyroll) NEW – Cinemascore: B+;
$10,117,000 in 1,774 theaters; PTA: $5,703; Total: $10,117,000
5. The revolution of Jesus (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$8,650,000 (-46%) in 2,575 (+100) theaters; PTA: $3,359; Total: $30,541,000
6. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) Week 12; #4 last weekend
$3,578,000 (-26%) in 2,300 (-195) theaters; PTA: $1,556; Total: $670,632,000
7. Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guere (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 51; Evening. budget: $50 million
$3,160,000 in 2,168 theaters; PTA: $1,458; Total: $3,160,000
8. Puss in Boots: The last wish (Universal) Week 11; Last weekend #5; Also on PVOD
$2,720,000 (-34%) in 2,588 (-252) theaters; PTA: $1,051; Total: $177,128,000
9. Magic Mike’s Last Dance (WBD) Week 4; Last weekend #6
$1,180,000 (-59%) in 1,737 (-1,181) theaters; PTA: $679; Total: $25,363,000
10. 80 to Brady (Paramount) Week 5; #8 last weekend
$845,000 (-56%) at 1,495 (-902) theaters; PTA: $565; Total: $38,818,000
Films (limited, extended, limited release, and award-oriented release) are listed by week of release, starting with those released that week; after the first two weeks, only films grossing over $5,000 are tracked.
The quiet girl (Neon) Week 2
$72,000 in 18 (+12) theaters; PTA: $4,000; Total: $148,758
The Way of the Panther (Wildpath/Grizzly Peak) Week 2 47
$16,735 in 28 (-19) theaters; PTA: $598; Total: $101,377
Selfie (Disney) Week 2
$55,000 at 308 (unchanged) theaters; PTA: $; Total: $315,499
2023 Oscar Short Films (Short TV) Week 3
$370,000 in 250 (-60) theaters; Total: $2,271,000
Back to Seoul (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$91,911 in 38 (+27) theaters; Total: $212,415
Emily (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$194,287 in 565 (-14) theaters; Total: $887,453
Closure (A24) Week 6 233
$52,180 at 153 (-80) theaters; Total: $1,001,000
Live (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11
$127,479 at 348 (+212) theaters; Total: $2,784,000
The whale (A24) Week 13; Also on PVOD
$62,962 in 165 (-46) theaters; Total: $16,895,000
The Fablemen (Universal) Week 17; Also on VOD
$30,000 in 591 (+275) theaters; Total: $17,223,000
The Banshees of Inisherin (Examination light) Week 20; Also on HBO Max and VOD
$36,000 in 270 (+35) theaters; Total: $10,478,000
After sunbathing (A24) week 21; Also on VOD
$12,835 in 14 (-1) theaters; Total: $1,629,000
TAR (In Focus) Week 22; Also on VOD
$52,000 in 444 (+208) theaters; Total: $6,680,000
RRR (Standard deviation) week 40; Also on VOD and Netflix
$191,000 on 283; Total: $15,090,000
Everything Everywhere At Once (A24) week 50; Also on PVOD
$175,039 at 636 (+327) theaters; Total: $73,265,000
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