Disney (“The Creator”), Paramount (“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie”) and Lionsgate (“Saw X”) will fight for first place this weekend – and anyone can win.
These three titles, along with the third week expansion of “Dumb Money” (Sony), should place well ahead of “Nun II” (Warner Bros.) and “Expend4bles” (Lionsgate), which were the top two last week – AKA the worst box office weekend of the year. Any release that exceeds $20 million is likely to break through as it is at the higher end of expectations. Industry sources estimate that the three new films will cost between $10 million and $20 million.
“The Creator” has the most at stake. With a budget of around $80 million to $90 million, it’s a low-cost production compared to most of Disney’s high-end FX extravaganzas (this one comes from Fox Studios).
It is also the rare Disney original. Directed by Gareth Edwards, he first came to Hollywood’s attention with the acclaimed British independent film “Monsters” before making “Godzilla” and “Rogue One.” With “The Creator,” Disney is testing whether mainstream science fiction can be successful.
Reviews were positive (66 on Metacritic, generally positive). This weekend will feature the majority of IMAX screens, as well as early-access shows on Wednesday and previews on Thursday to boost grosses.
Filmed in Thailand with a cast that includes John David Washington, Gemma Chan and Ken Watanabe, it doesn’t look like most sci-fi films. This could be a huge advantage or reinforce the narrative that there is safety in numbers.
“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” is a sequel to “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” which debuted on same-day streaming with Paramount+ in August 2021 and grossed $40 million domestically and $100 million worldwide. It is based on a Canadian animated series (shown in the US on Nickelodeon).
This time it’s a theatrical exclusive and should be the first summer children’s animated film to match the previous film’s $13 million opening. The budget is a frugal $30 million.
Saw “Spiral,” the most recent entry, opened in spring 2021 while theaters were still in recovery mode. It was a spin-off of the main characters (the only one without Tobin Bell; he returns here). With $23 million domestic and $41 million worldwide, it was the lowest-grossing episode of the series.
With a budget of $13 million, “Saw It didn’t finance “Expend4bles,” which was a flop last weekend.
By Friday, “Dumb Money” will have grossed around $4 million after two weeks in theaters. The number rises from 616 to 2,750 this week; The reaction will reflect questions about whether Sony’s staggered release schedule, designed to encourage word of mouth, worked. With a budget of $30 million, Craig Gillespie’s Wall Street meme stock story is the first of the major festival releases to reach an adult audience. (premiered in Toronto.)
With an underpopulated mainstream October (though Universal’s “The Exorcist: Believer” should do better than all the others on October 6) and “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” dominating after that, some of this week’s titles could also fare better with modest ones Openings. The opportunity will be there.