2022 has been an unpredictable year for the box office.
This weekend was no exception.
Against almost all expectations (including on my part last week), the horror film “Smile” fell only 22% to earn another $17.6 million. This pushed its domestic total to just below $50 million. With only a “B-” CinemaScore, such a hold is quite surprising. Usually strong audience reception and consequential word-of-mouth advertising is the root of strong holds, but considering its relatively low CinemaScore, it may be something else entirely.
There are two factors that influenced “Smile”’s second weekend. First, it faced zero new competition in the horror department. As the spooky season takes hold, there is major audience anticipation for horror releases. “Smile” was the only scary option in full wide-release this past weekend, giving it the opportunity to corner the horror market. Second, one cannot deny that the film’s premise is alluring and has created a word-of-mouth push. “Smile” has advertised itself very well, leaving quite a bit of mystery regarding its premise in its trailers and posters. Relying on the creepiness of a smile, the film’s marketing has struck a chord with audiences, pushing them to see the film in theaters.
With a $17 million budget, the film only needed to clear $65 million worldwide to profit. “Smile” has grossed $89 million worldwide thus far, so that profit has already been achieved. Yet again, another success story for a horror film that cost below $20 million.
In second place this weekend is the musical “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.” Based on the popular children’s book, “Lyle” opened to $11.5 million off a reported $50 million budget. With a budget of that size, the film needs to gross around $191 million worldwide, of which about $86 million will need to be domestic earnings. With an $11.5 million opening, such a total is almost certainly impossible to reach. The film did earn an “A-” CinemaScore, so decent holds could be incoming, but unless the film ingrains itself in the cultural zeitgeist, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” will not be chomping up tickets much longer.
Coming in third this weekend is “Amsterdam” which opened to $6.5 million. With the film’s reported $80 million budget, we can officially declare this as a major loss for 20th Century Studios. The film’s incredible cast was simply not enough to get moviegoers into seats, though the film’s negative critical reception played a major role in that as well. The film received a “B” CinemaScore, which could be worse but will not be enough for “Amsterdam” to last in the top five much longer.
Fourth and fifth this weekend are “The Woman King” and “Don’t Worry Darling,” with $5.3 million and $3.5 million respectively. “The Woman King” had another great hold, dropping only 22%, pushing its domestic total to $54 million. Though it will likely not reach the necessary $100 million domestically to profit, there is a chance “The Woman King” can clear $75 million with a few more strong weeks. “Don’t Worry Darling” fell another 49% in its third weekend, now having grossed $38 million domestically. It is highly unlikely “Don’t Worry Darling” will place in the top five next weekend.
Next weekend brings the wide release of “Halloween Ends,” the final film of the rebooted “Halloween” trilogy, starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The film’s immediate predecessor, “Halloween Kills,” opened to $49.4 million. That being said, the film was poorly received by audiences and critics. “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends” have similar distribution strategies, releasing in theaters and on Peacock (via a paid tier) simultaneously. Ultimately, I predict “Halloween Ends” will gross $37 million next weekend.
Will “Smile” continue to thrill audiences, or will “Halloween Ends” conclude its reign?
As always, we shall see.