How Channing Tatum’s ‘Dog’ Became This Year’s Latest Low-Budget Box Office Hit

Available to WrapPRO members

MGM found success on the cheap with a film that brought out the over-35 crowd to theaters

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/MGM

At a time when studios and theaters have been at a loss at trying to bring older moviegoers back to the box office, MGM made some noticeable progress in that struggle with “Dog,” a Channing Tatum film that has already made back its reported $15 million production budget from an audience that skews much older and more female than many of the hit titles of the past year.

With a fouir-day opening weekend of $18 million, “Dog” isn’t going to be the sort of hit that breaks the overall box office out of its early-year doldrums, with total domestic revenue for the year still short of $1 billion as the end of February nears.

But unlike Oscar contenders like Warner Bros.’ “King Richard” and Twentieth Century’s “West Side Story,” which failed to make back their production spend, “Dog” is a cheaper investment (before marketing costs) and has earned a better launch than either of those films.

According to demographic data from United Artists, around 54% of the opening weekend audience was female and 53% over the age of 35. In addition, the states that overindexed in ticket sales were in the central U.S. and Midwest — including Texas, Iowa and Missouri.

It’s a notable difference from fellow Presidents Day weekend newcomer “Uncharted” and even other recent low-budget box office hits like Paramount’s “Jackass Forever” and “Scream,” all of which followed the dominant pattern of strong turnout from younger male audiences in major coastal markets.

So far this year, films that have drawn older moviegoers as their primary demographic have struggled to post opening weekends over $10 million. “Dog” has done somewhat better thanks to a variety of external factors, including declining COVID-19 infection rates, but also because of its broader appeal with Channing Tatum giving a comedic yet sensitive performance as an Army ranger going on a road trip with a military working dog.

Dog Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum in “Dog” (MGM)

Tatum reunited with “Magic Mike” screenwriter Reid Carolin to co-direct the film, and it is likely that “Dog” was able to take advantage of the following that Tatum has built from “Magic Mike” and its sequel to draw interest.

“Irrespective of where a film lands on the charts, turning a profit is a win,” Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “‘Dog’ got overshadowed by ‘Uncharted’ but it is a film that was smartly budgeted and provided what a certain section of the moviegoing audience was looking for. These are the kinds of films studios are going to be looking for when it comes to non-tentpole success theatrically.”

For Paramount, the numbers for “Dog” will certainly be encouraging as the studio prepares for the March 25 release of its own Channing Tatum film, “The Lost City,” in which the star appears opposite Sandra Bullock as a bumbling romance-novel cover model stuck in a “Romancing the Stone”-esque adventure. But with a higher production budget that included on-location shoots in the Dominican Republic, “The Lost City” will need to find a wider audience than “Dog” to stay out of the red.