Sony/Screen Gems’ horror film “The Invitation” is leading the final weekend of the August box office, which also happens to be the lowest-grossing weekend theaters have seen since the weekend before Valentine’s Day.
“The Invitation” is taking No. 1 with an opening of just $7 million from 3,114 theaters, which is just more than half of the $11 million opening that Sony earned with another critically panned Screen Gems horror production, “Slender Man,” in August 2018. “Invitation” did slightly better critically with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 29% critics and 53% audience, but will likely die a quick death theatrically.
The only other new wide release this weekend was MGM’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” George Miller’s first film since the Oscar-winning “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The film opened outside the Top 5 with $2.8 million from 2,436 theaters, earning positive reviews with a 70% critics RT score and a B from audiences on CinemaScore.
The ongoing drought of buzzy new films is expected to continue well into mid-October, with next weekend’s Labor Day numbers likely to be more than 50% less than last year when Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” set a new record for the September holiday.
As we noted in our summer box office review, the strong audience turnout in the early summer months, while helpful, wasn’t enough to dig exhibitors out of the deep financial hole they were thrown into by the pandemic, and the industry is still not in a strong position to withstand the longer, deeper box office dry spells that we have seen this year. With relief from films like “Halloween Ends” and “Black Adam” still more than a month away, it is shaping up to be a rough September for the industry.
Among the meager grosses earned by holdovers in the Top 5, Sony’s “Bullet Train” leads with $5.6 million in its fourth weekend, inching past the break-even point with $78 million grossed domestically and $173 million worldwide. Universal’s “Beast” is in third with $4.9 million in its second weekend, giving it a poor 10-day total of $20 million as it struggles to make back its $36 million budget.
Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” is fourth with $4.7 million in its 14th weekend, and this week should pass the $700 million domestic total of “Black Panther” to become one of the Top 5 highest grossing films ever in North America.
Sony/Crunchyroll’s “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero,” completes the Top 5 with $4.5 million in its second weekend, a 78% drop from its $16.7 million 3-day opening. Such a drop is to be expected from anime releases, which historically have been frontloaded after devoted fans see them on opening weekend.