Under normal circumstances, this is one of the best weekends of the year. The pre-Memorial Day weekend frame that saw (deep breath) all four Shrek movies, all three Star Wars prequels, The Matrix Reloaded, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Star Trek Into Darkness ,Godzilla, Pitch Perfect 2, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Angry Birds Movie, Deadpool 2 and John Wick: Chapter 3 open to best-case-scenario business and then (mostly) leverage the family-friendly holiday to buffer the second-weekend drop. Even with the domestic industry holding its breath for Memorial Day, I have to think that something, maybe a low-risk title like Peter Rabbit: The Runaway, might have found a good home here. Yet this weekend’s big pre-Memorial Day weekend release is… well, non-existent.
By default, Darren Lynn Bousman’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw is the top movie at the domestic box office this weekend, with a $1.37 million (-63%) Friday and likely $4.42 million (-49%) second-weekend. That makes the Chris Rock/Samuel L. Jackson relaunch the first Saw movie ever to repeat at the top spot in North America, a milestone that obviously requires a giant asterisk. The previous Saw movies, the ones that topped on opening weekend (Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw 3-D) and the ones which did not (Saw, Saw V, Saw VI, Jigsaw) were usually followed by a couple of big early-November “holiday season kick-off” flicks. Furthermore, the Saw series generally played to Saw fans over the Halloween season, meaning that even the good ones didn’t quite break out behind Jigsaw’s most loyal disciples.
The film ended its first seven days with just $11.3 million, and it’ll have $15.7 million by tomorrow night. The “good” news is that a 49% drop is the best second-weekend hold since Saw (-39% from an $18 million debut in 2004) and Saw II (-47% from a $31 million launch in 2005). Saw III dropped 55% from a $33 million opening in 2006 and it’s been over/under 65% drops for the franchise since then. If we were dealing with bigger numbers, this would be a triumph. We’re still dealing with a film that will likely end up with between $21 million and $23 million domestic. I’m presuming it’ll make money for Lionsgate in the end, but it’s not quite the out-of-the-gates re-launch. The low grosses imply that the blame can’t entirely fall upon Covid.
That said, so as to not be too hard on the definitive horror movie franchise of the 2000’s, I should note that Spiral has now earned around $17 million worldwide, which means that the nine-film Saw saga is now already over or today passing the $1 billion mark in combined raw global grosses. That’s $1 billion on a combined budget of $95 million (10.5x rate of return thus far). Yeah, that’s quite impressive, even accounting for inflation and overseas expansion, even if The Conjuring Universe is one or two movies away from $2 billion. Is there still life left in the Saw series? That’s an open question, but we’ll see how it performs worldwide over the next month and (to the extent we can determine) on PVOD when the time comes.
Wrath of Man earned another $790,000 (-25) on its third Friday for a likely $2.75 million (-26%) weekend and $18.6 million 17-day cume. I’ll be very curious as to how the overseas grosses hold up as the film had $57 million heading into the weekend. Angelina Jolie’s Those Who Wish Me Dead will earn another $1.91 million (-33%) for a $5.612 million ten-day cume. This old-school Taylor Sheridan-helmed action drama was generally considered more of an HBO Max biggie than a likely theatrical blockbuster. Alas, this isn’t 2001, both in terms of Jolie’s bankability and the viability of regular movies. Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon will have $48.27 million by tomorrow, passing Tom & Jerry ($46 million) and Wonder Woman 1984 ($46.5 million). It’s still not a “hit,” but a 5.5x multiplier should not go unheralded.
Demon Slayer The Movie has now earned $43 million domestic. The cinematic continuation of the popular anime show is already the biggest-grossing movie ever in Japan with around $400 million and (at $477 million global) the biggest grosser of 2020. Now it’s the second-biggest grossing anime title in North American box office, behind only the first Pokémon movie ($85 million in 1999). It will, by tomorrow, pass Instructions Not Included ($44.4 million in 2013) to be the fifth-biggest foreign language grosser behind Parasite ($53.3 million in 2019), Hero ($53.7 million in 2004), Life Is Beautiful ($57 million in 1999) and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ($128 million in 2000). With $45 million as of Sunday, it has the same “unlikely but possible” shot at passing $50 million as Godzilla Vs. Kong ($96 million) has of topping $100 million.