In an unusually close box office battle, “Elvis and “Top Gun: Maverick” have tied for first place in North America, with each film bringing in $30.5 million over the weekend.
“Elvis” and “Top Gun: Maverick” were locked in a dead heat all weekend as the King of Rock and Roll took the No. 1 spot on Friday and dropped to second place on Saturday. The final results will be tallied on Monday.
Regardless of which film comes out on top, it’s a strong result for both. For “Elvis,” a $30 million debut is impressive for a movie catering to older audiences. For “Maverick,” it’s almost unheard of for a movie to generate $30 million in its fifth weekend of release.
Overall, it’s an encouraging weekend at the box office as five movies are putting up sizable results. Four — “Elvis” and a fellow newcomer, Universal’s Blumhouse thriller “The Black Phone,” as well as holdovers “Maverick” and Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion,” each grossed $20 million or more, while a fifth, Disney’s Pixar film “Lightyear ,” came close with $17 million.
“It’s beyond encouraging,” says Universal’s president of domestic distribution Jim Orr. “It’s a great sign that people really want to be back in theaters.”
Moreover, those ticket sales wouldn’t be far off from pre-COVID projections. Those healthy box office returns come as audiences have reportedly started to feel safer than ever going to their local cinema. According to a study by the National Research Group, 88% of moviegoers are “very or somewhat comfortable” going to the movies — marking a new all-time high. Around a year ago, that percentage was closer to 59%.
Baz Luhrmann directed “Elvis,” a kaleidoscopic take on the 20th century icon. Austin Butler stars in “Elvis,” which chronicles the performer’s meteoric rise to fame through the eyes of his morally ambiguous manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks). Hearings dug the Warner Bros. film, awarding it an “A-” CinemaScore.
Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein says he’s “absolutely thrilled” with opening weekend numbers.
“There’s something about the movie that’s really resonating,” Goldstein said on a Sunday morning call. “Word of mouth is really terrific.”
At the international box office, “Elvis” kicked off with $20 million from 51 markets for a global start of $50.5 million.
David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, called “Elvis” a “risky proposition,” one that seems like it will pay off.
“The music is dated, the character is not directly familiar and the lead actor is unproven on the big screen. But critics and audiences are responding,” Gross said. “This is the Baz Luhrmann show, a music, dance and sex appeal spectacular — it’s a hit.”
Warner Bros. and Paramount will be counting every last dollar and cent to determine which film ranks as No. 1 by Monday. At the box office, ties for first place are rare, but it’s even more unusual that one of the two contenders has been playing in theaters for over a month.
The nostalgia-fueled sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun” has benefitted greatly from stellar word-of-mouth, which has resulted in tiny week-to-week drops. Now in its fifth weekend of release, “Maverick” added $30.5 million from 3,948 venues between Friday and Sunday, pushing its domestic total to $521 million. It was already the highest-grossing movie of the year in the US and Canada, but, after this weekend, it’s now the highest-grossing movie at the global box office as well, with revenues at $1.006 billion. Notably, it’s the first movie of the year and only the second in COVID times (following Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” with $1.9 billion) to fly past the $1 billion mark.
After two weekends in first place, “Jurassic World Dominion” slid to the No. 3 spot with $26.4 million from 4,233 North American locations. Those ticket sales have pushed the dino-centric tentpole past $300 million at the domestic box office. With $443.8 million at the international box office, “Dominion” has stomped to $746.6 million globally and will imminently cross the $750 million mark.
“The Black Phone” opened in fourth place with $23.3 million from 3,150 North American cinemas. Overseas, the movie collected $13.4 million from 45 territories, taking its returns to $35.8 million globally. The horror movie cost only $18 million to produce, putting “The Black Phone” on a glide path to profitability.
Scott Derrickson directed “The Black Phone,” which stars Ethan Hawke as a masked serial killer who kidnaps and torments a teenage boy. Moviegoers and critics have responded enthusiastically, giving the film a “B+” CinemaScore and 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Franchise Entertainment Research’s Gross says, ”By keeping costs low, including efficient, targeted marketing, Blumhouse rarely misses. He adds, “’The Black Phone’ is the kind of film that streamers have not been able to make — high-profile, exciting, profitable on its own terms, and cheap.”
In fifth place, Disney’s “Lightyear” earned $17.7 million from 4,255 attendances, a steep 65% decline from its opening. The “Toy Story” spinoff has generated $88 million in North America to date, which is a decent result for a family film in COVID times but a weaker result for Pixar. Overseas, “Lightyear” collected $19.3 million from 44 markets, bringing its international tally to $63.6 million and its global total to $152.4 million.
Elsewhere, the summer’s tiniest box office star, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” made its debut on the indie scene, grossing $169,606 from six theaters — translating to an impressive $28,267 per location. A24 is releasing the gloriously reviewed film, whose origins began as a viral YouTube video about a plucky shell (voiced by Jenny Slate) with a lot of great qualities. The charming “Marcel the Shell” will expand into additional markets next weekend.