How anemic has the late summer box office been? Unless DON’T WORRY DARLING or SMILE over-perform, this will be the first September since 2001 without a film opening above $20M.
THE WOMAN KING got close with a $19M debut. But the celebration of KING as a box office win only speaks to the entrenchment of the theatrical malaise. Yes, we should be celebrating that an incredibly well-made movie gave some lift to the box office, but with a $50M budget a $19M debut is decent, though not spectacular. According to box office mojo, it ranks as the 60th largest opening for a September release.
HALLOWEEN ENDS will juice the box office when it opens on October 14th, but Universal’s decision to give the film a day-and-date release on Peacock will suppress the theatrical numbers. That puts even more pressure on BLACK ADAM, opening a week later on October 21st, to rescue theatrical.
THE BOX OFFICE UNIVERSE:
To date, seven Marvel or DC films have had exclusive theatrical runs during the pandemic era. Four films (darker blue) opened above $100M, while three debuted below $100M. The movies that opened above $100M were all sequels featuring established characters. The lone exception being VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE.
Because BLACK ADAM is not a sequel, it’s reasonable to think that it will open south of $100M. But can it break through and cross the century mark?
The table below shows the awareness and interest scores for each of the seven comp titles on day of release. There are a few things to note. For example, there is a fairly wide divide in scores between the films that opened above $100M and those that didn’t.
The films that opened above $100M had awareness scores of 68% or higher, while films opening under $100M all failed to crack 55% awareness. The higher earners had interest scores near or above 7.0, while the others were under 6.0.
We obviously don’t know where BLACK ADAM will be on day of release, but at least this chart provides benchmarks for the film.
The best way to take stock of ADAM’s numbers is to compare them to the comps at the same distance from release. As you can see below, the four films to open above $100M had awareness above 50% and interest well above 6.0. At the moment, ADAM is tracking on par with VENOM.
With another month to go, there is plenty of time for ADAM to rise from the lower to the upper tier. Looking at awareness over time, the film crossed 40% in late June but has been stuck in the mid-40s for several weeks. Given that Dwayne Johnson is a tireless promoter of his movies, it seems likely that awareness will climb approach or surpass 60% by opening.
The wildcard is on the interest side. As you can see below, ADAM has flirted with 6.0 since June but has yet to cross that threshold. The trailer that was released on June 8th (grey vertical bar) lifted interest from 5.5 to 5.9, but the subsequent trailer on July 23rd didn’t propel interest any higher. That is cause for some concern.
In an earlier study, The Quorum found that the benchmark for an opening above $100M is an interest score of 6.4. It’s still unclear if ADAM will be able to do that.
We all want this film to crack $100M. Not only would it go a long way towards propping up exhibition, but it would also put 2022 on track for tying 2016 for the most $100M openers in a year. And right now, that’s a story theatrical would love to tell.