Tom Holland, Sony and Marvel are riding high as “Spider-Man: Far From Home” topped the box office charts another week while 20th Century Fox is slowly realizing that maybe they’re movies just aren’t so good this year. “Stuber” stalled over the weekend which is already having industry insiders questioning the theatrical viability of modestly budgeted comedies. Especially now that we are in the Netflix world where they can easily be seen there instead of shelling out money for a movie ticket. North American theatergoers have turned a shoulder to similar comedies this summer including, “Long Shot,” “The Hustle,” “Shaft,” “Poms,” “Late Night,” and “Booksmart.”
As studios have been focusing more on big-budget franchise films so comedies aren’t having the best of luck getting theater space. Marvel does a great job of melding action with comedy which is also pushing things, and with the upcoming “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” fans will get plenty of laughs with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
Of the new releases this weekend, Paramount’s “Crawl” did the best for wide release. The studio did a smart simple marketing campaign showcasing the film as a simple summer fun movie in the vein of a “Sharknado.”
“Stuber,” on the other hand, had a $30 million marketing budget that was used to go after men during WrestleMania and the NBA Finals. ESPN, owned by Disney, was a marketing partner with a tagline “Saving the day takes a pair.” Yup, double entendres don’t always work. Disney took over the Fox Studio, but they aren’t having a lot of luck at the moment. “Dark Phoenix,” was the previous Fox film released by Disney cost nearly $400 million with marketing expenses and only took in about $250 million worldwide. When about half of that income goes to theater owners, you can see the problem.
Amy Adams’ “Woman in the Window” about an agoraphobic psychologist who witnesses a crime, is another Fox film which was pulled form Disney’s 2019 release schedule last week so reshoots can move forward. Rather than the original October 2019 release date, it won’t come out until sometime next year.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is celebrating another weekend at No. 1, but non-franchise fare continues to struggle at the box office. Fresh studio-released counterprograming such as the horror movie “Crawl” and the action-comedy “Stuber” barely made a dent in the web-slinger’s earnings, although there is a glimmer of hope in the independent world.
The “Spider-Man” sequel added $45.3 million in its second weekend, down only 51% according to studio estimates Sunday, bringing its domestic total to $274.5 million. Globally, Sony Pictures’ “Far From Home” has already grossed $847 million.
Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” landed in second place with $20.7 million in its fourth weekend in theaters. It’s now earned $346.4 million from North American theaters.
But while the well-reviewed franchises are thriving, original newcomers are facing an uphill battle in wide-release.
“Crawl,” a thriller from Paramount Pictures, debuted in third with an estimated $12 million against a reported $13.5 million budget. Directed by Alexandre Aja, “Crawl” stars Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario as a father and daughter trapped in their home with a bunch of angry alligators during a hurricane. The R-rated pic has been was not screened for critics in advance, which usually signals a dud, but it has been surprisingly well-received by critics since opening. It’s currently 88% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Uber comedy “Stuber” got off to a bumpier start with an estimated $8 million from over 3,000 North American locations. The R-rated Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista film cost a reported $16 million to produce and has not inspired the best reviews (it’s resting at a rotten 46. It’s the latest Fox film to be released by Disney.
“People always complain about the lack of original offerings from the studios especially during the summer but this summer in particular it seems like audiences are turning their backs on these films,” observed Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “It’s a real head-scratcher in a way as to why some of these films aren’t doing well.”
Universal’s Beatles-themed rom-com “Yesterday” rounded out the top five in weekend three with $6.8 million.
Dergarabedian said that it’s never a good thing for the box office when week after week the top movies are holdovers.
“That means newcomers are not making inroads,” he said. “You want audiences every weekend to be excited about a new film.”
That lack of enthusiasm is showing in the overall industry numbers. The weekend is down nearly 26% and the year is still around 9%, although Disney’s blockbuster-in-the-making “The Lion King” is on the horizon. The photorealistic remake of Disney’s animated classic opened this weekend in China ahead of its North American debut and made an estimated $54.7 million.
Although the big new releases failed to light the box office on fire, the independent film scene was thriving with myriad of options.
Among the most notable is Lulu Wang’s family drama “The Farewell,” which currently has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Awkwafina-led film opened in four locations to $351,330 for a massive $87,833 per theater average. It’s expanding to more cities in the coming weeks.
The dark Jesse Eisenberg comedy “The Art of Self Defense” opened in seven locations to $121,080, and the Marc Maron-led “Sword of Trust” debuted in two locations with $22,512. Documentaries, such as “Maiden,” ″Pavarotti” and “Echo in the Canyon” also continue to find audiences in limited release.
“If you’re an independent movie fan, this is your weekend,” Dergarabedian said. “The diversity of films is just staggering.”
North American Box Office
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” $45.3 million ($100 million international).
2. “Toy Story 4,” $20.7 million ($48.1 million international).
3. “Crawl,” $12 million ($4.8 million international).
4. “Stuber,” $8 million ($3 million international).
5. “Yesterday,” $6.8 million ($7.8 million international).
6. “Aladdin,” $5.9 million ($14.6 million international).
7. “Annabelle Comes Home,” $5.6 million ($18.1 million international).
8. “Midsommar,” $3.6 million ($766,000 international).
9. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $3.1 million ($14.6 million).
10. “Men in Black: International,” $2.2 million.
Worldwide Box Office
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:
1. “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” $100 million.
2. “The Lion King,” $54.7 million.
3. “Toy Story 4,” $48.1 million.
4. “White Storm 2: The Drug Lords,” $33.6 million.
5. “Annabelle Comes Home,” $18.1 million.
6. “Aladdin” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $14.6 million.
7. “Yesterday,” $7.8 million.
8. “Crawl,” $4.8 million.
9. “Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel – II. Lost Butterfly,” $3.5 million.
10. “Stuber,” $3 million.