Unless You’re an Independent Film, Super Bowl Weekend at the Box Office Is Beyond Terrible

There’s plenty of grim box office results on Super Bowl Weekend — based on attendance, it’s an all-time historical low for the weekend — but why not start with the good news?

Tran Ahn Hung’s “The Taste of Things” (IFC), France’s submission for the International Oscar (although it failed to make the final list) opened in three New York/Los Angeles locations to a sensational $126,000 or $42,000 per theater.

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Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days” (Neon), the International Feature nominee from Japan grossed $180,000 in its first five days in five theaters.

Harmony Korine’s “Aggro Dr1ft” (EDGLRD), an experimental action narrative shot in infrared, amassed $46,300 in five shows over four days in Los Angeles with an innovative release strategy.

And Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” (Searchlight) continues to thrive after its strong Oscar nomination haul with another $1.125 million, putting it over the $30 million mark. That’s the best specialized total since “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

On any weekend, results like these deserve elevated attention. Today, it’s a welcome distraction.

For most theaters and studios, which generate well over 95 percent of their business from major releases, this is a nadir with a little under $40 million total. Sure, football hurts, but it’s not like the event was a surprise. Year to date is now down 15 percent, with the likelihood of 20 percent down by month’s end. Some history: from 2011-2020 (pre-COVID years), the lowest Super Bowl Weekend total gross was at least double that.

It’s not the the worst post-Covid result (it just edges out $38 million for December 9-11, 2022), but that’s damning with faint praise. With $6.5 million for Apple’s “Argylle” (Universal), it beat “Mean Girls” as the lowest #1 film since 2021. With $1,803 per theater (or, fewer than 200 people all weekend per theater). It also had the highest average of any film in the Top 10, making it the first time no film topped $2,000 in years.

Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse in Lisa Frankenstein
“Lisa Frankenstein”Focus Features

The problem is easy to diagnose and hard to fix: There’s too few films in release and those we have fall short. #2 “Lisa Frankenstein” (Focus) managed only $3.8 million. At $13 million cost, and parent Universal’s ability to add revenues over multiple platforms, it might not lose money for the studio — but that gross falls well short of what theaters need.

Including Focus, Universal has three of the top five titles (“Migration” is #5) and over 40 percent of the total gross. They at least providing a steady flow of releases (“Argylle” comes from Apple, with Universal handling theatrical).

Even with a lack of competition, holdovers didn’t really help. Aided by early Valentine’s Day attendance and a special edition with new content, Sony’s “Anyone but You” had the best hold: It dropped 22 percent for #7.

With February 14 on a Wednesday, both “Bob Marley: One Love” (Paramount) and “Madame Web” (Sony) will open midweek. They can’t happen too soon. The same weekend last year grossed $145 million with the opening of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Real relief won’t come until “Dune: Part Two” (March 1) and “Kung Fu Panda 4” (March 8).

In advance of the Frank Herbert sequel, Warner Bros. reissued the initial “Dune” to place ninth at around $1.7 million (the studio didn’t report a gross). “American Fiction” at #10, also boosted by its nominations, and also now on PVOD (“Poor Things” is not) has now crossed $17 million. “The Holdovers,” which is also streaming, is now just shy of $20 million. All nominees in theaters (many are on home platforms) totaled around $3.5 million.

The initial success of “Taste” (which saw the IFC Center in New York way ahead in gross among its three locations) is somewhat bittersweet. The film might have been hurt in its nomination chances because it wasn’t released during the nomination process. (The International category remains unique in not requiring domestic release to qualify.) Its initial success, despite the Oscar snub, is even more impressive.

Harmony Korine DJs at the Los Angeles premiere of "AGGRO DR1FT"
Harmony Korine DJs at the Los Angeles premiere of “AGGRO DR1FT”Oliver Capp. Courtesy of EDGLRD

“Aggro Dr1ft” wins the specialized showmanship award among recent releases. It initially played shows at Hollywood’s Crazy Girls strip club, where tickets cost $100 and included free drinks and an afterparty DJ’d by Korine. It also played over the weekend for $15 at the nearby Los Feliz Theater.

The Top 10

1. Argylle (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$6,500,000 (-63%) in 3,605 (no change) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,803; Cumulative: $28,814,000

2. Lisa Frankenstein (Focus) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 48; Est. budget: $13 million

$3,800,000 in 3,144 theaters; PTA: $1,209; Cumulative: $3,800,000

3. The Beekeeper (MGM Amazon) Week 5 – Last weekend #3; also on PVOD

$3,469,000 (-34%) in 3,057 (-220) theaters; PTA: $1,135; Cumulative: $54,734,000

4. The Chosen Season 4 Episodes 1-3 (Fathom) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$3,153,000 (-57%) in 1,955 (-304) theaters; PTA: $1,613; Cumulative: $11,639,000

5. Wonka (WB) Week 9; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD

$3,125,000 (-33%) in 2,764 (-137) theaters; PTA: $1,131; Cumulative: $205,252,000

6. Migration (Universal) Week 8; Last weekend #5; also on PVOD

$3,020,000 (-28%) in 2,684 (-186 theaters; PTA: $1,125; Cumulative: $110,140,000

7. Anyone but You (Sony) Week 8; Last weekend #7

$2,700,000 (-22%) in 2,805 (+186) theaters; PTA: $963; Cumulative: $80,124,000

8. Mean Girls (Par) Week 5 – Last weekend #6

$1,925,000 (-50%) in 2,901 (-113) theaters; PTA: $735; Cumulative: $69,174,000

9. Dune (WB) REISSUE; also on VOD, streaming

$(est.) 1,700,000 in 2,100 theaters; PTA: $810; Cumulative: $(est.) 110,600,000

10. American Fiction (Amazon MGM) Week 9; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD

$1,329,000 (-45%) in 1,462 (-440) theaters; PTA: $909; Cumulative: $17,369,000

Other specialized and award-contending titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

The Taste of Things (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Cannes, New York 2023

$126,015 in 3 theaters; PTA: $42,005

Perfect Days (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2023

$100,537 in 5 theaters; PTA: $20,047; Cumulative: $180,066

Aggro Dr1ft (EDGRLD) NEW – Metacritic: 43; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York 2023

$46,300 in 2 theaters; PTA: $23,150

Out of Darkness (Bleecker Street) NEW – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: London 2022

$1,005,000 in 897 theaters; PTA: $1,120

Ennio (Music Box) NEW – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Venice 2021, DocNY 2022

$7,434 in 1 theater; PTA: $7,434

Drift (Utopia) NEW – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Sundance 2023

$6,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,000

The Peasants (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$5,201 in 10 (+7) theaters; PTA: $520; Cumulative: $43,991

Origin (Neon) Week 4

$300,000 in 348 (-283) theaters; Cumulative: $4,040,000

Driving Madeleine (Cohen) Week 5

$31,634 in 45 (-15) theaters; Cumulative: $293,678

The Teachers’ Lounge (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$135,009 in 277 (+237) theaters; Cumulative: $410,894

The Iron Claw (A24) Week 8

$773,109 in 425 (-209) theaters; Cumulative: $34,760,000

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight) Week 9

$109,000 in 95 (-55) theaters; Cumulative: $3,752,000

Freud’s Last Session (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$5,200 in 13 (-53) theaters; Cumulative: $842,415

The Zone of Interest (A24) Week 9

$773,109 in 598 (+4) theaters; Cumulative: $6,000,000

Poor Things (Searchlight) Week 10

$1,125,000 in 1,300 (-650) theaters; Cumulative: $30,276,000

The Boy and the Heron (GKids) Week 10

$236,141 in 265 (-135) theaters; Cumulative: $45,388,000

Anselm (Janus/Sideshow) Week 10

$20,250 in 11 (+2) theaters; Cumulative: $440,045

The Sweet East (Utopia) Week 11

$34,016 in 34 theaters; Cumulative: $227,984

The Holdovers (Focus) Week 16; also streaming and on VOD

$65,000 in 270 (-292) theaters; Cumulative: $19,924,000

Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount) Week 17; also streaming and on PVOD 286

$16,000 in 144 (-142) theaters; Cumulative: $67,815,000

Oppenheimer (Universal) Week 30; also on VOD

$56,000 in 226 (-353) theaters; Cumulative: $328,899,000

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