By Chris Kavan - 11/16/22 at 11:19 AM CT
While Black Adam bravely attempted to bring the blockbuster back, leave it to the MCU to finish the job as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever truly gave the box office the boost it needed after a dreadful post-summer slump. While it may have fallen short of the exceedingly high expectations set after the first film - as well as having to move on following the tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman - Wakanda Forever still managed to please both audiences and critics while dominating the weekend. A late arrival this week - but the MPAA Ratings Board is sticking with their one big show-stopper as they have of late. At least it's a heroic one this time around.
Wakanda Forever opened to a mighty $181.3 million, just behind Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness ($187 million) as the biggest opening of 2022. It also represents the biggest opening in November, easily topping the $158 million set by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire back in 2013. It led the weekend to a $206.8 million total - the biggest since the second weekend of July when, you guessed it, another MCU film, Thor: Love and Thunder, led the charge. While the film fell short of the original Black Panther's $202 million, I don't think that's much of a surprise. The Good news is Wakanda Forever has been a bigger hit with audiences - with an "A" Cinemascore and critics - with 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes - than both Multiverse of Madness ("B+", 74% Fresh) and Love and Thunder ("B+", 64% Fresh). The biggest threat to Wakanda Forever doesn't even hit until mid-December when Avatar: The Way of Water drops, so I expect this to dominate November. While the $700 million total of the original Black Panther is a bit too far out of reach, it should be able to top Multiverse of Madness ($411 million) to become the highest-grossing MCU film and sit behind Top Gun: Maverick ($716.6 million) on the year. A total around $500 million or so should be on the table. Internationally, Wakanda Forever brought in $150 million - 4% ahead of the original film. Without China or Russia, we'll see if it can hit $500 million here as well and cross that coveted $1 billion worldwide mark.
With Wakanda Forever getting most of the attention, Black Adam took an expected hit with a near 56% drop and an $8 million weekend. That was enough for the anti-hero to cross the $150 million mark with a new $150.5 million total. It has earned a total of $352 million worldwide - nothing to sneeze at - but also a bit of a letdown considering its $200 million budget. Black Adam might come close to breaking even, but it's not the massive hit the DCEU was hoping for.
In third place, George Clooney and Julia Roberts re-team in the romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise continues to be the go-to for discerning adults, adding another $5.9 million (down 31%) for a new $56.3 million total. That gives the film an impressive $150 million worldwide total - a rare win for an adult-driven film in this day and age.
In fourth place, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile jumped back into the top five, dropping a mere 5% compared to last weekend and bringing in $3.2 million for a new total of $40.8 million. Much like Ticket to Paradise playing to adults, Lyle is the best option for families. The $72.6 million worldwide total is a bit soft considering its $50 million budget, but it has benefitted from surprisingly strong legs so in the end profitability is likely, even if it won't be spectacular.
Rounding out the top five after rom-com and family is horror with Smile, which fell 41.4% with a $2.33 million weekend and a new $102.7 million total. Its global total now sits at $210 million total - all on a mere $20 million budget. Smile looks to be one of the best return on investments of the year.
Outside the top five: In limited release, The Fabelmans - Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, opened in four theaters to the tune of $161,579 (16th pace) for a nice $40,394 per-theater average. This will expand wide just before Thanksgving. Among current limited release films, Martin McDonagh's The Banshees of Inisherin is holding strong in 7th place with $1.65 million (down 19.8%) for a total of $5.7 million. Among like-minded films, it has topped the totals for TÁR ($4.56 million), Armageddon Time ($1.6 million) and Triangle of Sadness ($3.5 million).
This weekend brings us the dramas Thirteen Lives (based on the true story of the Thailand cave rescue of a youth soccer team and their coach) and She Said (based on the true story of New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who essentially launched the #MeToo movement). While it's nice adults will have something to choose from, neither are likely to make much of a dent in Wakanda Forever's box office dominance.
As it has been for the last several weeks now, there is but one major title to touch on - and Shazam is back in the house.
The first Shazam! was a lot fun - Zachary Levi was a hoot as the very adult hero but a teen's mentality (Asher Angel). Eventually he learned how to balance things out - taking down a villain (Mark Strong) while bestowing powers to the rest of his adoptive family. In the follow-up Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, it seems that his powers - and that of his family - has made some other gods very angry - and Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) are ready to burn down the world (with a dragon too) if it means taking back the powers. The main cast is all back - besides those mentioned we have Adam Brody, Meagan Good, D.J. Cotrona, Ross Butler playing the adult heroes with Grace Caroline Currey playing both the regular and hero version of her character. Jack Dylan Grazer, Ian Chen, Faithe Herman and Jovan Armand play the young version of the family with Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans playing the adoptive parents. Djimon Hounsou is also back as the wizard Shazam and Diedrich Bader, Rachel Zegler and Rizwan Manji are joining the fun. I know that DC has a rocky history - the most recent Black Adam was another just so-so entry - but I think when they are allowed to have a little fun, the films turn out so much better. That's the reason the first Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam! and THE Suicide Squad were, in my mind, so much better than the other DC entries - they were more fun to watch. To quote the Joker "Why so serious?" C'mon, DC, give me some laughs and some drama, The Batman was good but so, so, SO very dark and depressing. I need Shazam! to make me put on happy face. Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and language.
I hope that's enough to put a smile on your face because that's our one big film for the week, but you can check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:
Rated R for language.
Rated R for bloody violence and language throughout.
Rated R for some violent content and sexual material.
Rated PG for mild action/violence and some rude material.
RETURN TO SEOUL
Rated R for brief drug use, nudity and language.
Rated R for bloody violence and language.
SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and language.
Rated R for strong violence, terror, language throughout and some drug use.
THE SUBTLE ARE OF NOT GIVING A F***
Rated R for language throughout and brief violent images.