“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” (AMC) and “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Paramount) grossed a combined $54 million for the weekend. Of this weekend’s $83 million domestic box office total, 65 percent came from two films created outside the studio system with unconventional distribution.

With $31 million, “Eras” repeated at #1 although it dropped 67 percent from its impressive debut; it’s grossed just under $130 million so far. Martin Scorsese’s $200 million-budgeted, Apple-backed Osage Western opened in second place to $23 million, overcoming the challenge of its 206-minute running time.

With its lower average ticket price (likely above the national average, given premium theaters and major-city response), “Flower Moon” sold nearly 2 million tickets in the U.S./Canada. “Eras,” with a $19.89 base price ($13.13 for children and a handful of other patrons, sold fewer.)

The grosses are vital for theaters both in the near term and as templates for for future films produced outside studios when future major-studio production might decrease. They also reinforce the notion that releases seen as events can get elevated attention.

Starting with “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” in December (like “Eras,” distribution by AMC with Variance handling theater outreach), the model will receive further testing. It remains to be seen if Taylor Swift’s performance can be replicated.

Vanessa Kirby in "Napoleon"
“Napoleon” screenshot/Apple TV+

However, there may be more opportunity around films similar to “Flower Moon.” Streamers will continue to make high-end original features that target the awards season. Apple has already made a similar theatrical commitment for Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” and Amazon emphasized theaters ahead of streaming for “Air” last spring.

An approaching test case might be Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro.” Netflix’s leading awards contender opens in theaters November 22, four weeks ahead of its streaming debut.

Other than the brief wide run for “Glass Onion” last Thanksgiving, Netflix typically starts with a platform run for their top contenders. Might “Maestro” be a case where a wider initial run might make sense? Unlike when it released Scorsese’s “The Irishman” in 2019 with no support from top exhibitors, the streamer now has access on a case-by-case basis.

A key difference here is that Apple partnered with Paramount, unlike Netflix which goes it alone (and still faces long-standing resistance from some exhibitors.) At a minimum, having Paramount at its side aided the film‘s chances of maximizing premium screen presence, even when competing with the second weekend of “Eras.”

Strategic decisions made by Apple (one was to go wide after initially planning a platform release) are accepted more readily by exhibitors and the media when they have the imprimateur of an experienced distributor like Paramount working with them.

Also, the decision (in situations like this, it’s Apple’s call) to move from an October 6 platform date to a wider debut is the sort of counsel that can come from working with established distributors.

The “Flower Moon” audience skewed male (62 percent), with significant younger appeal (40 percent under 30). Per Paramount reporting, 53 percent cited Scorsese as a prime draw with 36 percent coming for Leonardo DiCaprio.

Its $23 million start is $7 million above “Air” and nearly triple the estimate of what “The Irishman” grossed. Yes, “The Wolf of Wall Street” did $18 million its first weekend — but it opened on a Wednesday with $16 million in already. The film’s hold remains to be seen, with a total domestic gross likely around $60 million- $80 million. That would place it in the middle range of his releases over more than 50 years.

The theatrical play and success will help Apple’s awards profile; it will certainly increase streaming interest; and it will aid its competitive chances versus Netflix and Amazon for future projects.

In the rest of the top 10, nothing reached as much as $6 million and only two films dropped less than 40 percent. “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” (Paramount) at #4 held best, down 35 percent. “Saw X” (Lionsgate) dropped 37 percent; that’s especially impressive not only because it’s a much better-than-average hold for a horror sequel, but also because it is also available on PVOD.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Sally (voice: Catherine O'Hara), Jack Skellington (voice: Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman), 1993. ©Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” ©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Two unusual titles also placed, with yet another reissue of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (Disney). On its 30th anniversary, this is the seventh wide rerelease for the film. It placed #5, adding $4.1 million to its total.

From India, the Tamil-language “Leo: Bloody Sweet” (Prathyangira) ranked #8 with $2.1 million in 720 theaters. It is based on the same graphic comic that inspired David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence.”

The specialized audience had “Flower Moon” as a prime draw, but Neon added runs for the second week of its acclaimed French drama “Anatomy of a Fall.” It did a respectable $11,000 per-theater-average in 14 total theaters.

“The Persian Version” (Sony Pictures Classics) was the prime new limited release. The Sundance-premiered comedy about an Iranian-American family grossed $87,000 in nine theaters. However, the four core New York/Los Angeles theaters averaged over $20,000 for the weekend.

The weekend’s total gross was $29 million below last year, when “Black Adam” opened to $67 million. Year to date remains a steady 26 percent ahead of 2022.

The Top 10

1. Taylor Swift The Eras Tour (Variance for AMC) Week 2; Last week #1

$31,000,000 (-67%) in 3,855 (+5) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $8,042; Cumulative: $129,789,000

2. Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 90; Est. budget: $200 million

$23,000,000 in 3,628 theaters; PTA: $6,340; Cumulative: $23,000,000

3. The Exorcist: Believer (Universal) Week 3 – Last week #2

$5,600,000 (-49%) in 3,323 (-361) theaters; PTA: $1,685; Cumulative: $54,402,000

4. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Par) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$4,450,000 (-35%) in 3,364 (-343) theaters; PTA: $1,323; Cumulative: $56,064,000

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney) (reissue)

$4,100,000 in 1,650 theaters; PTA: $2,485; Cumulative: $(est.) 164,000.000 (adjusted)

6. Saw X (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD

$3.585,000 (-37%) in 2,756 (-302) theaters; PTA: $1,301; Cumulative: $47,234,000

7. The Creator (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #5

$2,600,000 (-40%) in 2,490 (-470) theaters; PTA: $1,044; Cumulative: $36,759,000

8. Leo: Bloody Sweet (Prathyangira) NEW – Est. budget: $40 million

$2,139,000 in 720 theaters; PTA: $2,971; Cumulative: $2,139,000

9. A Haunting in Venice (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #6

$1,100,000 (-44%) in 1,600 (-690) theaters; PTA: $688; Cumulative: $40,908,000

10. The Blind (Fathom) Week 4; Last weekend #7

$1,011,000 (-49%) in 950 (-215) theaters; PTA: $954; Cumulative: $15,696,000

Other specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed.Metacritic scores and film festivals lists as listed.

The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Sundance 2023

$87,372 in 9 theaters; PTA: $9,708

Another Body (Utopia) NEW – Festivals include: South by Southwest, Hot Docs 2023

$7,761 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,761

Full Circle (Abramorama) NEW – Metacritic: 70

$1,654 in 1 theater; PTA: $1,654

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) Week 2

$154,399 in 14 (+9) theaters; PTA: $11,029; Cumulative: $333,891

Divinity (Utopia) Week 2

$9,944 in 3 (+2) theaters; PTA: $3,315; Cumilative: $16,170

Dicks: The Musical (A24) Week 3

$377,653 in 345 (+330) theaters; Cumulative: $826,387

The Royal Hotel (Neon) Week 3

$17,000 in 90 (-183) theaters; Cumulative: $754,451

A Strange Way of Life (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$23,224 in 46 (-112) theaters; Cumulative: $444,915

Common Ground (Area 23) Week 4

$18,799 in 19 (+13) theaters; Cumulative: $138,532

Stop Making Sense (A24) (reissue) Week 5

$61,915 in 89 (-169) theaters; Cumulative: $4,721,000 (reissue only)

Dumb Money (Sony) Week 6

$275,000 in 1,167 (-1,109) theaters; Cumulative: $13,541,000

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Focus) Week 6; also on PVOD

$105,000 in 303 (-307) theaters; Cumulative: $28,420,000

Talk to Me (A24) Week 12; also on PVOD

$30,829 in 25 (-35) theaters; Cumulative: $48,249,000

Leave a comment