“Black Adam,” a superhero adventure starring Dwayne Johnson as a villain who promises to change the “hierarchy of power” in the DC universe, towered over box office charts with $67 million in its domestic debut.
The Warner Bros. comic book movie handily took down the weekend’s other new nationwide release, Universal’s romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise,” which landed in second place with a better-than-expected $16.3 million. “Black Adam,” heading into the weekend, was projected to open to $62 million, but ticket sales were stronger than anticipated on Saturday and Sunday, leading the studio to revise up estimates.
For a superhero origin story, the $67 million start for “Black Adam” isn’t Earth-shattering, though it ranks in line with its fellow DC movie 2018’s “Aquaman” ($67.8 million) and above 2019’s “Shazam” ($53.5 million), which each managed to stick around in theater long enough to validate the hundreds of millions that Warner Bros. spent to produce those films. “Aquaman” had the added benefit of playing around Christmastime, resulting in an especially robust run with $335 million domestically and $1 billion globally. “Black Adam” isn’t expected to have that kind of multiple, but since it cost a massive $195 million, not including the many millions in marketing, it’ll also need to keep playing on the big screen for some time.
“As a spin-off, this is a strong opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “‘Black Adam’ should do well abroad and be comfortably profitable.”
Thanks to the combined charm of Julia Roberts and George Clooney, “Ticket to Paradise” successfully served as counter-programming against “Black Adam.” And with the challenges facing romantic comedies at the box office, that wasn’t a given — even with Roberts and Clooney in the driver seat. It didn’t come close to matching the start of “The Lost City,” a two-hander starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum that opened earlier this year to $30 million, but that film managed to expand its appeal by leaning heavy on the action and explosives, at least compared to the traditional rom-com. “Ticket to Paradise” stands as one of the better starts for meet-cute stories this year, beating “Bros” ($4.8 million) and “Marry Me “($7.9 million while landing simultaneously on Peacock).
It also adds to the movie’s stellar business overseas, where “Ticket to Paradise” has already generated $80 million. Now that it’s opened in North America, the film is nearing the $100 million mark with ticket sales currently at $96 million globally.
“These are two of Hollywood’s biggest stars and they still have large followings overseas, where audiences are more loyal to celebrities than they are in North America,” says Gross. “That’s where this movie is making very good money.”
Older audiences were especially charmed by “Ticket to Paradise,” which cost $60 million to produce. Nearly 50% of ticket buyers were 45 or older, and 64% were above the age of 35. Opening weekend patrons seemed to enjoy the movie, awarding it an “A-” CinemaScore. Ol Parker (“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”) directed “Ticket to Paradise,” which follows Roberts and Clooney as hostile exes who fly to Bali to stop their lovestruck daughter’s shotgun wedding.
Elsewhere at the domestic box office, last weekend’s champion “Halloween Ends” fell to fourth place with $8 million, a shocking 80% decline from its $41 million debut. It’s one of the worst week-to-week falls in recent history for a movie that opened in first place. “Halloween Ends” withstood an even steeper drop than its predecessor, 2021’s “Halloween Kills,” which also debuted day-and-date on Peacock and plummeted 70% in its second weekend. That film tapped out with $92 million at the domestic box office.
So far, “Halloween Ends,” which is positioned as the final showdown between Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode and her nemesis Michael Myers, has grossed $54.17 million in North America and $82 million worldwide.
In stark contrast, Paramount’s R-rated horror film “Smile” continued its killer run, landing in third place with $8.3 million (a minimal 34% decline) in its fourth weekend of release. The movie, which cost an economical $17 million, has been the unexpected hit of the fall season with $84.3 million to date.
More to come…
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