Box Office Breakdown: “Smile” grins atop the charts 

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The September 2022 box office has officially come to a close. Excluding the pandemic, this was the worst September for theaters since 1996, with total domestic sales falling below $330 million. With all the delays and release date shifts during the pandemic, one month was bound to take a hit. It looks like it was September.  

But the box office continues forward. 

Charting at the top this week is the horror film “Smile” which earned $22 million in its opening weekend. This was above expectations (I said the film would earn only $8 million — a pretty poor prediction on my part) and quite impressive for the reported $17 million budgeted film. With moderately strong critical reception and a “B-” CinemaScore, “Smile” will likely not last these next few weeks. However, with its $17 million budget, the film only needs to clear around $65 million worldwide to profit (factoring in marketing and theatrical expenses). Of that $65 million, around $39 million will likely need to be domestic earnings. With a $22 million opening, “Smile” is all but guaranteed to profit.  

Like we mentioned with “Barbarian” and “Pearl” these last few weeks, low-budget horror has proven time and time again to be a financially successful endeavor. Expect to see this industry trend continue well into the future. 

In second place this week is last week’s top film “Don’t Worry Darling.” The film earned another $7.3 million this weekend, falling a steep 62% from its opening. This is not surprising considering the film’s poor critical and audience reception. With all the drama surrounding “Don’t Worry Darling” there was a bit of buzz entering its opening weekend, though that appears to have petered out. With only $32.8 million earned domestically and the film falling quickly, there is virtually zero chance for the film to earn the necessary $78 million domestically to profit. That being said, I think “Don’t Worry Darling” has the potential to be very popular once it hits streaming. 

In third place this week is “The Woman King” with a $7 million weekend gross. This was a 36% drop from last week and pushed the film to $46.7 million domestically. While this is a more impressive hold than the previous weekend, “The Woman King” is going to need much stronger legs to get to its necessary $100 million domestic gross to profit. Though the film has earned the love of critics and audiences alike, that is not likely to happen at this point. “The Woman King” now turns its eye to awards season to see if it can earn any nominations at the Academy Awards. 

Placing fourth and fifth this week are “Bros” and the re-release of 2009’s “Avatar.” I was very wrong with my “Bros” prediction; I expected the romantic comedy to earn $15 million in its opening when in fact, it failed to earn $5 million. With a $4.8 million opening, “Bros” defied box office convention with an extremely low gross although amidst insanely strong critical and audience reception (the film earned an “A” CinemaScore). One possible reason is its genre. The romantic comedy has not fared well at the box office recently. Pre-pandemic, rom-coms were already falling out of theaters and COVID-19 only accelerated that decline. Films like “Marry Me” have faltered in theaters this year, which has pushed studios to release rom-coms via streaming, where they have fared much better. “Bros” is by no means an outlier in this regard, though considering its strong reception, its performance was unexpected. “Avatar” grossed another $4.7 million this weekend, just adding to its gargantuan all-time domestic total of $779 million. The hype is slowly building for the December release of its sequel, which will be a fun weekend to watch out for. 

This upcoming weekend brings the theatrical release of two new films: “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” and “Amsterdam.” 

“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is a live-action/animated musical adaptation of the popular children’s story, starring Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Shawn Mendes as the singing crocodile. Musicals are very difficult to predict, but I think the film will earn $18 million this weekend. 

“Amsterdam” is a comedy thriller that stars almost every actor in the world, with Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington leading the way. Critical reception has not been great for the film, making me think it will only earn $8 million this weekend. 

We shall see, will “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” snap up first place or will “Amsterdam” thrill its way to the top? 

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