For the second straight weekend, the No. 1 film at the box office is getting very mixed results. Disney’s remake of “The Little Mermaid” is a domestic hit with an estimated $95.5 million 3-day, $117.5 million 4-day Memorial Day weekend opening from 4,230 theaters, but is only finding success in part of the world as it is struggling in several key international markets.
“Little Mermaid” is just topping the last Disney remake released in theaters on Memorial Day weekend, “Aladdin,” which had a domestic launch of $91.6 million 3-day and $116.8 million 4-day. The film is also enjoying strong audience reception in the U.S. with an A on CinemaScore, a 91% rating on PostTrak and 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Those are the scores this remake will need to keep legging out against a crowded June slate that starts next weekend with “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
Disney insiders say they’re confident that “Little Mermaid” can keep numbers strong against “Spider-Verse” given the film’s demographic breakdown, which skews 68% female with a general/family split of 58% general audience and 42% parents and kids. Age breakdown shows 61% from the 18-34 demo, with PostTrak ethnicity breakdown showing 35% Black — expected with Halle Bailey playing Ariel — 26% white, 25% Latino and 11% Asian.
But here comes the bad news: “The Little Mermaid” has posted an international opening of just $68 million from 51 markets. Not only is that down 44% from the $121 million international opening of “Aladdin,” but it’s even less than the $87 million earned this weekend by Universal’s “Fast X.” Mexico is the top international market with $8.5 million while markets like Korea, China and Germany all reported less than $3 million each.
Considering how “Aladdin” was able to perform well worldwide and reach $1 billion, “Little Mermaid” is looking like it will fall well short of the high market set for it by other remakes of films from the Disney Renaissance. Depending on how June’s box office plays out may even have to rely on merchandising and other ancillaries to make a big chunk of its profit against its $250 million production budget.
In second on the charts is “Fast X,” which is already showing signs of being low on fuel. The “Fast & Furious” film is taking a very steep 66% fall from its $67 million opening weekend to $23 million, with a 4-day total of $28.6 million. That gives the film a two-weekend domestic estimate of $116 million, 7% behind the pace of “F9,” which came out in late June and had the Fourth of July holiday fall on its second weekend during the pandemic reopening period.
As noted, the overseas hold for “Fast X” is better than the opening weekend of “Little Mermaid,” but the film still fell 58% in all markets with $87.2 million grossed this weekend. The most damage was in China, a country that was once a vital market for “Fast & Furious” but has fallen 63% from its $78 million opening weekend. While the film is now one of only five Hollywood titles to gross over $100 million in China since 2019, the drop shows how much Chinese audience’s loss of interest in American fare has hit even one of the most popular franchise ever to hit that market.
Overall, “Fast X” has now crossed the $500 million mark globally, normally a positive sign for a tentpole. But given the film’s franchise-high $340 million budget before marketing costs, it’s becoming less likely that “Fast X” will be able to turn a theatrical profit.
In third is Disney/Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which in its fourth weekend is continuing to show excellent legs with $20 million 3-day/$25 million 4-day totals. That will be enough to push the film past $300 million domestic and $725 million worldwide, as the film continues to chug towards the $863 million global total of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Universal/Illumination’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is in fourth with $6.2 million grossed over 3 days, giving the megahit a running total of $558 million domestic and $1.27 billion worldwide. The Nintendo film is now just $8 million away from passing the global box office total of “Frozen,” which made $1.28 billion before inflation adjustment in 2013.
A quartet of new releases round out the charts with minimal opening weekends. Screen Gems/Legendary’s action comedy “The Machine” is in fifth with a $4.9 million 3-day/$5.8 million 4-day opening from 2,409 theaters, closely followed by Lionsgate’s comedy “About My Father” starring Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro with a $4.25 million 3-day and $5 million 4-day opening from 2,464 theaters.
Open Road/Briarcliff’s Afghanistan war film “Kandahar” is in eighth with just a $3 million 4-day opening from 2,105 theaters, while A24’s dramedy “You Hurt My Feelings” from writer-director Nicole Holofcener is earning a $1.73 million 4-day opening from just 912 theaters.