Somewhere across the multiverse, “The Flash,” once touted by its own studio as “one of the greatest superhero movies of all time,” should be towering over the box office with ease in its second weekend of release.
But in this universe, audiences are flat-out rejecting the Warner Bros. movie, starring Ezra Miller as the eponymous, timeline-spanning speedster. Rather than taking a victory lap, the DC comic book adventure is cratering in third place behind holdovers “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and Pixar’s “Elemental” and ever-so-slightly ahead of Jennifer Lawrence’s new R-rated comedy “No Hard Feelings.”
More from Variety
Over the weekend, “The Flash” suffered a brutal 73% decline in its second weekend with $15.3 million from 4,265 North American theaters. That’s a far bigger drop than recent DC adaptations like “Black Adam” (59%) and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” (69%), which ended up as notable money losers for the studio.
In the case of “The Flash,” it’s a catastrophic result for the $200 million-budgeted tentpole because it signals that ticket sales won’t rebound in its theatrical run. So far, the film has generated a lousy $87 million at the domestic box office and $123.3 million internationally, bringing the worldwide total to $210.9 million.
Part of the problem is the new leaders at DC Comics, James Gunn and Peter Safran, have announced plans to reset the flailing comic book universe. As a result, audiences are feeling ambivalent about lame-duck tentpoles like “The Flash.” That’s unfortunate for the two remaining DC entries in limbo, Blue Beetle” (Aug. 18) and Jason Momoa’s “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Dec. 20).
Overall, it’s a chaotic weekend at the box office as Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” returned to the No. 1 spot (in its fourth weekend of release, no less) with a mighty $19.3 million. It’s rare that a film returns to the top of charts this far into its theatrical run, especially in the heat of summer movie season. So far, “Across the Spider-Verse” has generated $316 million in North America and $560 million globally.
The “Spider-Verse” sequel narrowly beat out Disney and Pixar’s animated “Elemental,” which remained in second place with $18.5 million. That brings its domestic tally to $65 million and global total to $121 million. Ticket sales in its sophomore outing were stronger than anticipated, dropping only 37% from the prior weekend. Unfortunately for “Elemental,” it landed (by far) the worst start in modern history for Pixar. So it’ll need to remain the de facto choice for family audiences to justify its $200 million price tag and restore a little confidence in the Pixar brand.
Lawrence’s raunchy comedy “No Hard Feelings” opened in fourth place with $15 million from 3,208 venues. It’s not a bad result for a contemporary theatrical comedy, but analysts were expecting more from the $45 million-budgeted Sony movie that stars one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Earlier this year, for example, Universal’s wild R-rated “Cocaine Bear” managed to collect $23.2 million in its opening weekend without the promise of household names on the marquee.
Directed by Gene Stupnitsky, “No Hard Feelings” pulled in $9.5 million from 48 markets at the international box office. That’s a promising turnout because broad comedies tend to have limited overseas appeal.
“No Hard Feelings” stars Lawrence as a down-on-her-luck Uber driver who accepts a Craigslist ad to “date” an introverted 19-year-old boy (newcomer Andrew Barth Feldman) before he goes to college. Audiences mostly liked the film, which landed a “B+” CinemaScore.
“‘No Hard Feelings’ wasn’t cheap to make at $45 million before marketing costs,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “That’s a big number at these box office levels.”
Rounding out the top five, Paramount’s “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” added $11.6 million from 3,523 theaters, a 44% decline in its third weekend. To date, the seventh “Transformers” installment has earned $122.9 million at the domestic box office and $218 million internationally. It cost $200 million to produce.
Elsewhere at the domestic box office, Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City” scored $9 million as it expanded to 1,675 theaters over the weekend. That’s a career-high for Anderson, the filmmaker of arthouse favorites like “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” By comparison, his latest feature, 2021’s “The French Dispatch,” brought in $2.5 million when it broadened its footprint to a similar number of theaters.
The 1950s-set “Asteroid City” takes place as a cosmic event disrupts a fictional desert town. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Hawke, Bryan Cranston and dozens of other Anderson regulars. Audiences — 64% were 35 years or younger — gave the film a so-so “B” CinemaScore.
“It’s fantastic to see the best weekend that Wes Anderson has ever had at the box office reignite the specialty marketplace,” says Lisa Bunnell, president of distribution at Focus Features. “The opening of ‘Asteroid City’ the past two weekends has been incredibly encouraging and inspiring.”
Best of Variety