Though the box office slump continues, it looks like the worst is over. The weekend’s $48.5-million overall box office is the fourth worst of the year, but it’s around a 13 percent increase from last weekend’s $42.3-million, which was the year’s second worst weekend and may turn out to be the season’s weakest. This weekend is the first in September to perform better than the same weekend last year, which had a Marvel Comics Universe title at the head of the month with little else to follow, and the buzz on Don’t Worry Darling suggests that next weekend should see more growth. Of course, these low overall numbers are still bleak (keep in mind no pre-pandemic weekend dropped below $60-million since 2001), and the numbers will remain ugly until Halloween Ends opens in four weekends from now, but after seven of the past ten weekends declining, any improvement is a decent sign.
If there’s one title to celebrate this past month, it’s Sony’s The Woman King. The Viola Davis-starring, Gina Prince-Bythewood-directed, West Africa set historical epic opened in first place with an above-expectations $19-million. More important than the overperforming opening, though, is its A+ CinemaScore, making The Woman King just the second film of the year to receive the top grade from audiences (the other was Top Gun: Maverick, and we all know how that went). We can expect strong legs from here (more than four times the opening is common for the rare film that receives the A+), and suddenly the $50-million budget on the film (which was co-financed with eOne) looks much more recoupable.
Critics agree with audiences that The Woman King is a winner (it’s at 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and its status may get a further boost when awards season comes around. The film opened in 3,765 theaters, and audiences felt this was one to see on the biggest screen around as 34 percent of its gross came from IMAX and other premium large format (PLF) screens. We’ll have to wait to find out how it performs internationally, but so far it’s off to a strong start.