It’s a crowded weekend at the box office as we see the arrival of the biopic, Elvis, and the long-awaited critically-acclaimed horror entry, The Black Phone. They’ll be mixed in with the holdovers from the last few weeks and we could see a weekend where all five films gross $20 million+ this weekend. The question is: Will one holdover, in particular, be the one to jump back into the number one spot?
We’re going to approach the predictions a little differently this week. Instead of telling you which film I think will be number one at the start, I’m going to save it until we touch on the two new releases hitting theaters this weekend. Let’s begin with the Baz Luhrmann-directed Elvis, a biopic that received the longest standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film had its premiere. There is a lot of good buzz regarding Elvis, particularly for Austin Butler’s performance which is said to be electric, transformative, and Oscar-worthy. There is also the universal praise the film has received from Presley’s family. I watched a special on ABC the other night where his daughter Lisa Marie Presley, his ex-wife Pricilla Presley, and his granddaughter Riley Keough, all gushed over the film and Butler’s performance. If anyone was on the fence about the biopic, a winning endorsement from this closest to Presley and his legacy should be enough to convince you that this is the real deal. The curiosity factor is there but there could be some doubt that the curiosity hasn’t quite reached younger moviegoers that have been driving ticket sales in the wake of the pandemic.
Elvis Presley is a rock-n-roll legend but there is no denying that his music and interest in his personal life, skew older. As Deadline pointed out, someone who is 50 years old was 5 when Elvis Presley died. The primary audience for Elvis is the 60+ crowd and they have been more reluctant to make a trip to the theater out of concern about COVID-19. There have been some exceptions. Back in November of last year, House of Gucci lured in the older demographic for a three-day opening of $14.4 million over the Thanksgiving holiday. The holiday weekend translated into $22 million and it turned into the biggest opening for an adult-skewing film during the pandemic. It took a while for an older-skewing film to take off again until March when Sandra Bullock’s The Lost City opened to $30.4 million, attracting older women in the process. That film legged it out to $105.3 million domestically as it is considered the biggest domestic hit aimed mostly at adults during the pandemic. There is also Top Gun: Maverick. Its stellar box office success is thanks to all demos but older men have been a big part of its box office dominance. Elvis is hoping to receive some of the love that all there of these movies have received during their runs.
The running time is a bit concerning (2 hours and 39 minutes) which could keep some people away but the 2 hour and 38-minute runtime of House of Gucci didn’t seem to hurt that film much at all. The subject matter was interesting enough that people actually came out for it. Elvis could also have that same appeal. The reviews are also pretty good at 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, as of this writing. Baz Luhrmann’s previous film, an adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was 48% rotten but still managed to open to $50 million. That film had Leo so Elvis isn’t soaring that high but I’m predicting an even $30 million opening. Will it be number one? I’m predicting that won’t be the case.
The Black Phone is a highly anticipated horror film that has the potential to break out in a significant way if moviegoers side with the critics on this one. For a couple of weeks, the Scott Derrickson-directed film has been able to boast about a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes in its TV spots, and that only upped interest. The score has since dipped to 85% fresh as of this writing but that’s still a pretty damn good score for any movie but especially a horror film. I saw the movie back in October at Beyond Fest and it’s one hell of an experience. I’m really glad Universal and Blumhouse went full steam ahead with a theatrical release because it deserves success on the big screen. A comparison for The Black Phone is Sinister, also directed by Derrickson, which opened to $18 million. The was an October opening so The Black Phone has the benefit of not only skewing towards teens but doing so during the summer months when they’re just starting their summer vacations. I think The Black Phone is going to open well and the rest will be determined by word of mouth but for the weekend, I’m calling for an opening of $20 million and a fifth-place finish.
Now let’s look at some of our holdovers. Last weekend Lightyear underperformed with a debut of $50.5 million. The film isn’t entirely catching on with families like other Pixar fare because its weekday figures, despite having kids out of school for the most part, weren’t spectacular. Lightyear grossed $6.5 million on Monday and $5.8 million on Tuesday, not horrible numbers but there is an industry sense that they could be stronger if the film was catching on more. All signs point to Lightyear not having a great hold for a Pixar release and a 50%+ dip is likely. I’m calling a $25 million second weekend for Lightyear and a fourth place finish.
Jurassic World: Dominion got to maintain bragging rights at the number one film for the second weekend in a row due to the underperformance of Lightyear. The film grossed $59.2 million last week which was a dip of 59.2%. Dominion is essentially performing like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which dropped 58.8% in its second weekend. Should Dominion keep up with the close pace of Fallen Kingdom, that would mean another low 50%+ drop to a gross of about $28 million and a third place finish.
That leaves us with Top Gun: Maverick. As you saw with my Elvis prediction, I called for a $30 million opening but I said I don’t think it will finish at number one. I think Top Gun: Maverick is about to take another flight to the top spot and this is thanks largely to the crazy good holds the film has seen since its release. Last weekend the Top Gun sequel grossed $44.6 million in its fourth week of release which represented a slim 13.9% decline. Sure, Father’s Day certainly gave the film a boost but Maverick is also a word of mouth sensation. Something it has continlously proved since exploding over Memorial Day weekend. I think our boy Tom Cruise will top the box office once again with a gross of $35 million this weeknd but make no mistake that ALL of these films are going to see some solid crowds this weekend. Exhibitors want to see all of these movies co-existing in the same marketplace because it’s just further proof that the box office continues to recover from the ravages of the pandemic. Moviegoing truly is back.
What are YOUR predictions for this weekend’s box office?
TOP FIVE BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS:
- Top Gun: Maverick – $35 million
- Elvis – $30 million
- Jurassic World: Dominion – $28 million
- Lightyear – $25 million
- The Black Phone – $20 million