It was unclear heading into the weekend whether Billy the Puppet or superhero puppies would take No. 1 at the box office, but the victory goes to Paramount/Spin Master’s “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” with $23 million earned from 3,989 theaters.
The second feature film based on the hit Nick Jr. series is opening well above the $13.1 million opening of the first day-and-date release “Paw Patrol,” which hit theaters and streaming back in August 2021. With no other major family films coming out in October and strong reception with an A on CinemaScore, “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” should leg out respectably against its $30 million budget, not to mention make a windfall in merchandising for Paramount.
Lionsgate’s “Saw X” will have to settle for No. 2, but it is still earning a solid $18 million from 3,262 theaters, putting it on the road to profitability against its $13 million budget. On top of that, it is the first film in the nearly 20-year history of “Saw” to earn the “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an 85% approval rating from critics.
It’s a big win and a quick rebound for Lionsgate after the misfire of “Expend4bles,” which dropped 69% in its second weekend and has grossed just $13.2 million over 10 days. “Saw X,” on the other hand, should have the word of mouth to leg out through October as a Halloween horror offering, even against competition from Universal’s “The Exorcist: Believer” and “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”
The outlook isn’t as bright for Disney/20th Century/New Regency’s “The Creator,” which came into theaters with the largest production budget: $80 million financed by co-producers New Regency and eOne. The sci-fi film opened to $14 million from 3,680 theaters.
Reception for the creator has been generally positive with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 67%, CinemaScore grade of B+, and a PostTrak score of 4/5 from general audiences, but the film still faces a long road to profitability as it has a global opening of $32.3 million with releases in Japan, Korea and Philippines still to come. We will see next weekend whether “The Creator” and its promise of an original sci-fi tale can gain enough buzz with audiences who aren’t hardcore fans of the genre to leg out.
Combined, these three films are providing some much-needed fuel to a box office that was floundering over the past two weeks, with last weekend’s overall total collapsing to 53.6 million. This weekend, overall totals are up 60%, rising to $86 million.
Warner Bros./New Line’s “The Nun II,” is in fourth with $4.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $76.7 million after four weekends.
Outside the top 5, Sony/Black Bear’s “Dumb Money” is underwhelming in its third weekend and first in wide release, grossing just $3.5 million from 2,387 theaters. It’s possible that the floods in New York City that closed around 20 theaters on Friday played a larger impact given the film’s focus on Wall Street, though it has been playing in that city for three weekends.
“Dumb Money” also likely got hampered by the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which prevented the film’s ensemble cast led by Paul Dano and Seth Rogen from promoting the movie and its underdog story of meme traders taking down a hedge fund through the 2021 GameStop stock surge. SAG-AFTRA is returning to negotiations with studios on Monday for the first time since announcing the strike in mid-July.
Regardless, “Dumb Money” has grossed just $7.3 million through three weekends against a budget of $30 million footed by Black Bear Pictures. Sony insiders say the studio believes the film can still leg out similar to director Craig Gillespie’s 2017 film “I, Tonya,” which made $30 million after months in limited release.