“Black Adam,” a superhero adventure starring Dwayne Johnson as a villain who promises to change the “hierarchy of power” in the DC universe, towered over box office charts with $67 million in its domestic debut.
The Warner Bros. comic book movie handily took down the weekend’s other new nationwide release, Universal’s romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise,” which landed in second place with a better-than-expected $16.3 million from 3,543 cinemas. “Black Adam,” heading into the weekend, was projected to open to $62 million while playing in 4,350 theaters, but ticket sales were stronger than anticipated on Saturday and Sunday, leading the studio to revise estimates.
For a superhero origin story, the $67 million start for “Black Adam” isn’t Earth-shattering, though it ranks in line with its fellow DC movie 2018’s “Aquaman” ($67.8 million) and above 2019’s “Shazam!” ($53.5 million), which each managed to stick around in theaters long enough to validate the hundreds of millions that Warner Bros. spent to produce those films. Compared to antiheroes outside the DC space though, “Black Adam” earned far less than 2018’s “Venom,” which also centered on a lesser-known comic book character and opened to $80 million despite terrible reviews.
In the case of “Aquaman,” led by another hulking figure in Jason Momoa, the movie had the added benefit of playing around the holidays, ending its theatrical run with a robust $335 million domestically and $1 billion globally. “Black Adam” isn’t expected to have that kind of multiple, but since it cost a massive $195 million before marketing fees, it’ll also need to keep playing on the big screen for some time.
Internationally, “Black Adam” kicked off with $73 million from 76 markets for a global tally of $140 million.
“As a spin-off, this is a strong opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “‘Black Adam’ should do well abroad and be comfortably profitable.”
For Warner Bros., “Black Adam” is the studio’s sixth film (out of six) this year to open in first place at the domestic box office, following “The Batman,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” “Elvis,” “DC League of Super-Pets” and “Don’t Worry Darling.”
And, in a win for movie theaters, “Black Adam” is the first film to open above $50 million since “Thor: Love and Thunder” in July. It’s also the first time the box office has collectively surpassed $100 million in one weekend since mid-July.
Thanks to the combined charm of Julia Roberts and George Clooney, “Ticket to Paradise” successfully served as counter-programming to “Black Adam.” And with the challenges facing romantic comedies at the box office, that wasn’t a given — even with Roberts and Clooney centerstage. It didn’t come close to matching the start of “The Lost City,” a two-hander starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum that opened earlier this year to $30 million, but that film managed to expand its appeal by leaning heavy on the action and explosives, at least compared to the traditional rom-com. “Ticket to Paradise” stands as one of the better starts for meet-cute stories this year, beating “Bros” ($4.8 million) and “Marry Me”($7.9 million, while landing simultaneously on Peacock).
It also adds to the movie’s stellar business overseas, where “Ticket to Paradise” has already generated $80 million. Now that it’s opened in North America, the film is nearing the $100 million mark, with ticket sales currently at $96 million globally.
“These are two of Hollywood’s biggest stars and they still have large followings overseas, where audiences are more loyal to celebrities than they are in North America,” says Gross. “That’s where this movie is making very good money.”
Older audiences were especially charmed by “Ticket to Paradise,” which cost $60 million to produce. Nearly 50% of ticket buyers were 45 or older and 64% were above the age of 35. Opening weekend patrons seemed to enjoy the movie, awarding it an “A-” CinemaScore. Ol Parker (“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”) directed “Ticket to Paradise,” which follows Roberts and Clooney as hostile exes who fly to Bali to stop their lovestruck daughter’s shotgun wedding.
“‘Ticket to Paradise’ became an event for all audiences this weekend, but especially older adults, which are difficult to get to theaters,” says Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. Its better-than-expected start, he says, “points to the incredible word-of-mouth the movie is generating.”
Elsewhere at the domestic box office, last weekend’s champion “Halloween Ends” fell to fourth place with $8 million, a shocking 80% decline from its $41 million debut. It’s one of the worst week-to-week falls in recent history for a movie that opened in first. “Halloween Ends” withstood an even steeper drop than its predecessor, 2021’s “Halloween Kills,” which also debuted day-and-date on Peacock and plummeted 70% in its second weekend. That film tapped out with $92 million at the domestic box office.
So far, “Halloween Ends,” which is positioned as the final showdown between Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode and her nemesis Michael Myers, has grossed $54.17 million in North America and $82 million worldwide.
In stark contrast, Paramount’s R-rated horror film “Smile” continued its killer run, landing in third place with $8.3 million (a slim 34% decline) in its fourth weekend of release. The movie, which cost an economical $17 million, has been the unexpected horror hit of the fall season, with $84.3 million to date. At the international box office, “Smile” has generated a huge $81.9 million for a healthy global total of $166.2 million.
Sony’s animated family film “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” rounded out the top five with $4.2 million from 3,536 venues over the weekend. After three weeks, it’s generated a lackluster $28.7 million in North America and $8.4 million internationally.
Several new releases succeeded at the indie box office, including Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy “The Bashees of Inisherin,” “A24’s “Aftersun” and director Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave.”
Searchlight’s “The Banshees of Inisherin,” an Irish-set film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as life-long friends at an impasse, brought in $181,000 from four theaters, translating to a huge $45,250 per location. That’s a better screen average than “Tár” ($40,000 per location), “Triangle of Sadness” ($21,007 per location) and other recent awards hopefuls. By next Friday, Searchlight is expanding “The Banshees of Inisherin” to about 11 additional markets before opening nationwide in the coming weeks.
Paul Mescal, of “Normal People” fame, stars in “Aftersun,” which grossed $66,355 from four screens and averaging a solid $16,588 per location. A24 is slowly rolling out the well-reviewed movie through November.
Mubi is distributing “Decision to Leave,” which brought in $296,436 from 48 screens and translates to a softer $6,176 per location. Now in its second weekend in limited release, the romantic thriller has generated $437,116 to date.
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