How much difference a year makes. While Labor Day 2021 saw a box office surge despite COVID-19 fears thanks to the release of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” this holiday weekend has seen a 55% year-over-year drop as cinemas continue to trudge through a dry spell on the release calendar.
Current industry estimates have overall figures for the 4-day weekend finishing at just $63-65 million. In 2021, “Shang-Chi” boosted that total to $140 million, and prior to the pandemic, only one Labor Day weekend in the 2010s saw a 4-day total below $100 million ($97 million in 2017.)
The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) stemmed the tide somewhat with National Cinema Day, a campaign that offered $3 movie tickets at cinemas nationwide on Saturday with major chains like Cinemark and AMC also offering discounts on popcorn and soda.
While that did not dramatically boost the box office with a 9% increase over last Saturday, NATO reported that 8.1 million tickets were sold by participating theaters, greatly increasing admissions while encouraging customers to spend the saved money on concessions, which theaters keep a larger share of the profit than on ticket sales. NATO is also hoping that moviegoers who took part in the discounts will get back into the habit of heading to theaters when the release slate picks up in the fall.
But on the charts, the two films fighting for No. 1 are not new releases, but rather record-breaking blockbusters released months ago: Paramount/Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
The “No Way Home” re-release, titled “More Fun Stuff,” adds 11 new minutes of footage to the $1.9 billion blockbuster hit, including a new post-credit scene that explains the ripple effects of Peter Parker’s actions in the film’s climax. With an estimated 3-day total of $6 million and a 4-day total of $7.6 million, the film’s lifetime domestic total is expected to reach $812 million.
“Top Gun: Maverick” is estimated to make $5.5 million over three days and $7 million over four, with “Maverick” reaching $700 million in domestic grosses on either Monday or Tuesday.
Sony’s “Bullet Train” and Warner Bros.’ “DC League of Super-Pets” are both estimated for $5.4 million 3-day totals, with “Bullet Train” estimated for $6.8 million over four days. “Bullet Train” is estimated for a domestic total of $87 million after five weekends, while “Super-Pets” stands at $80 million after six weekends.
Sony/Screen Gems’ “The Invitation” completes the Top 5 with a 3-day total of $4.7 million and a 5-day total of $5.7 million, giving it a domestic cume of $14.8 million after two weekends.
Far down the charts in the No. 14 slot is the sole wide release this weekend, Focus Features’ “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul,” a satire of megachurches starring Regina Hall that opened day-and-date on Peacock. From 1,880 theaters, the film earned just an estimated $1.75 million over four days, with critics giving it a 74% Rotten Tomatoes score.