‘Black Adam’ tops sluggish box office as theaters eagerly await ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’

Consider the calm before the storm this weekend.

Black Adam, a humorous adventure movie starring Dwayne Johnson, topped the box office charts for its third consecutive weekend with North American ticket sales of $18.5 million. It’s been another lull at the cinema as theater operators eagerly await Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which appears to refresh the lackluster box office when it opens November 11.

Three weeks after its release, “Black Adam” grossed $137.3 million in North America and $319 million worldwide. It’s a solid result, and one that improves greatly upon DC’s latest entry, 2021’s “The Suicide Squad” (which earned $168 million globally while playing simultaneously on HBO Max in North America) and will soon finish Shazam for 2019! (which has earned $366 million worldwide.) However, Warner Bros.’ latest indie superhero story still has ways to justify its massive $195 million production budget.

In second place, a new anime titled “One Piece Film: Red” collected $9.475 million from 2,367 theaters in North America. It’s another modest win for Crunchyroll, a niche animation company, after recent anime releases such as “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” ($38 million domestically) and “Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” ($34 million domestically). Since these films carry relatively small production and marketing budgets, they do not need to break box office records to rationalize their price tags.

“Sony-owned Crunchyroll has built a very popular business for its Japanese anime,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. “It’s embarrassing.”

“Ticket to Paradise,” a romantic comedy with Julia Roberts and George Clooney, finished third with $8.5 million from 4,066 places, down just 14% in its third weekend. The film grossed $46.7 million in North America and looks to continue to please audiences through the rest of the fall. Despite the challenges facing rom-coms at the box office, “Ticket to Paradise” has managed to defy expectations (thanks to its co-star charm, of course) with $90.4 million at the international box office and $137 million worldwide. Universal spent $60 million on the film.

In fourth place, Paramount’s surprise hit “Smile” brought in $4 million from 3,046 movie theaters, bringing its domestic credit to $99 million. With the psychological horror film approaching $100 million in North America, “Smile” has surpassed $200 million worldwide—a stellar figure for the film’s $17 million budget.

Lionsgate supernatural movie “Prey for the Devil” closed the top five with $3.87 million from 2,980 locations, down 48% from its debut. As of Sunday, the low-budget movie had grossed a paltry $13.64 million.

Outside the top five, slasher movie “Terrifier 2” continued to impress, coming in at No. 10 bringing in $1.2 million from 1,245 theaters over the weekend. The independent film, produced by Bloody Disgusting and distributed by Iconic Releasing, is already very profitable, bringing in $9.8 million from its $250,000 budget.

At number seven, “The Banshees of Inisherin” by Martin McDonough, an Irish film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong friends in trouble, took $2 million from 895 theaters. As Searchlight is slowly expanding, it has grossed $3 million so far.

At number eight, “Till” remained flat with $1.875 million from 2,136 screens. The sentimental autobiography, which depicts Danielle Didweiler as Emmett Till’s mother, made $6.5 million four weeks after its release, a good result for a drama aimed at adult audiences.

Another specialty title, James Gray’s autobiography “Armageddon Time”, struggled to break through as it expanded to 1,006 places. Focus Features, starring Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong, set back $810,000 — resulting in a dismal $802 per location. To date, “Armageddon Time” has earned $902,000.

Overall, the box office brought in $59.4 million over the weekend, according to Comscore. Even with the surprising success of “Smile” and the exceeded expectations of “Black Adam” and “Ticket to Paradise,” movie theater owners need a huge movie (or two) to carry them through the winter. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to the billion-dollar smash, should deliver merchandise, with box office experts predicting a weekend opening between $175 million and $200 million.

“Next weekend, business is back on a global scale with the opening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” says Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research.

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