David O. Russell’s star-studded period drama “Amsterdam” collapsed in its box office debut, earning an anemic $6.5 million from 3,005 North American theaters. The movie, which cost $80 million to produce, couldn’t overcome bad reviews and minimal buzz and is shaping up to be one of the biggest misfires of the year.
This weekend’s other newcomer “Lyle Lyle Crocodile” also fell short of expectations, albeit to a lesser degree, with $11.5 million from 4,350 cinemas in its opening weekend. However, Sony’s animated family film, an adaptation of the popular children’s book about an anthropomorphic reptile (who sings!) voiced by Shawn Mendes, won’t be as painful for the studio given its $50 million price tag.
There’s one undeniable bright spot in the otherwise lackluster weekend at the box office, and that’s Paramount’s creepy thriller “Smile.” The film, starring Sosie Bacon, managed to retain its crown with an impressive $17.6 million in its second weekend in theaters. Thanks to positive word-of-mouth, ticket sales for “Smile” declined a mere 22% from its debut, a stellar hold for a horror movie. The film has grossed $49.8 million to date, marking another victory for Paramount in 2022. The studio has also scored with “Top Gun: Maverick,” “The Lost City,” “Scream” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”
“Amsterdam,” which placed third on box office charts behind “Smile” and “Lyle Lyle Crocodile,” also misfired overseas with $3.5 million from 30 international territories. A $10 million global start is painful for Russell, a five-time Academy Award nominee, as well as Disney and 20th Century, which backed the film.
At one time, the glossy historical epic — starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington and Taylor Swift — looked primed to be an Oscar player that dripped with commercial appeal. Weeks earlier, pre-release tracking indicated “Amsterdam” could open with anywhere from $17 million to $20 million. But those screenings were revised down after the film landed a sour 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the weekend, it landed a lackluster “B” CinemaScore, signaling it wasn’t just critics who were ambivalent toward “Amsterdam.” In any case, those grades do not bode well for word-of-mouth.
“This is a weak opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The weekend figure is below average for a crime mystery, and reviews are poor.”
Audiences were fonder of “Lyle Lyle Crocodile,” which holds an “A-” CinemaScore. But overall it’s been a tough year for movies aimed at younger crowds; other than “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” most kid-friendly flicks haven’t been connecting at the box office.
“Family titles have been thin this year; it’s an under-served market,” Franchise Entertainment Research’s Gross says. “But moviegoers are not excited about this crocodile.”
“The Woman King” and “Don’t Worry Darling” took spots four and five, respectively, on domestic box office charts. “The Woman King,” starring Viola Davis, took in $5.3 million from 3,342 locations in its fourth weekend of release, dropping just 24% and bringing its tally to $54.1 million. Director Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling” added $3.4 million in its third weekend, a 50% decline from its prior outing. The movie, which polarized critics and audiences, has amassed $38 million to date.
Elsewhere, Billy Eichner’s romantic comedy “Bros” failed to rebound in its sophomore outing despite positive reviews. The film tumbled to seventh place with $2.1 million from 3,356 attendances, a 56% decline from its debut. So far, “Bros” has grossed $8.8 million.
In sixth place, Disney and 20th Century’s “Avatar” re-release continues to impress with $2.6 million from 2,040 theaters. After three weeks back on the big screen, James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster has generated $23.3 million in North America and $71.9 million globally. It’s a dazzling result for a 13-year-old movie, and one that certainly has box office watchers optimistic for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which opens in December.
And while “Amsterdam” did little to bring in adult crowds, the specialty box office was buzzing thanks to director Todd Fields’ drama “Tár” and Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner “Triangle of Sadness.” A satire about the ultra-wealthy, “Triangle of Sadness” brought in $210,074 from 10 locations, translating to a solid $21,007 per theater.
Focus Features is distributing “Tár,” which grossed $160,000 from four theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, averaging a massive $40,000 per location. The movie, which looks to be in the awards race, especially for Cate Blanchett’s leading performance as a world-famous conductor in the throats of cancel culture, is expanding to 30 new theaters in the coming days.
“The opening results for ‘Tár’ are wonderful as we begin to introduce this incredible film led by a tour de force performance from Cate Blanchett to theatrical audiences around the country,” says Focus Features’ president of distribution Lisa Bunnell. “Our film’s opening and the overall turn-out for adult minded films this weekend is a promising sign that bodes well for the industry overall as we navigate the fall season.”