Hey, daddy-o, moviegoers want to go down to the basement—to see Barbarian, that is.
Despite the obvious warnings from just about every horror movie, ghost story, and urban legend since the invention of subterranean basements, audiences turned out for Barbarian, 20th Century Studios’ twisty, low-budget shrieker. Raking in a cool $10 million, per Variety, the horror movie Airbnb doesn’t want you to see did better than expected, proving, once again, that studios don’t have to spend the GDP of a small nation to get people into theaters. Sometimes, the weather simply being hot outside will do that.
Other surprises this weekend: Brahmāstra: Part One—Shiva, the Hindi-language franchise starter starring Ranbir Kapoor, took in $4 million on less than a thousand screens. The movie begins a planned trilogy that sets up the Indian film industry’s first cinematic universe, The Astraverse. The A.V. Club’s Saloni Gajjar was mostly positive about the film, pointing out the film’s impressive effects and original plotting (even if some of the dialogue is a little weak):
The grandiose scale is relatively fresh for Bollywood, unlike, say, 2015’s Telegu and Tamil movie Baahubali and its sequel (also helmed by RRR’s S.S. Rajamouli, by the way), which blends sci-fi action with an exploration of cultural heritage. Brahmāstra hinges on a potent love story (that doesn’t get enough build-up) and a larger-than-life adventure for Shiva, tapping into the faith and history of Indian civilization. The film and its hero’s guiding principle is “light wins over darkness,” which is the essence of Hindu festivals like Diwali and Dussehra, both of which prominently feature in the film’s first half. Though it beats you over the head with its preachiness and pedestrian dialogue, the almost three-hour Brahmāstra ultimately proves an enterprising effort.
America’s own star-powered crowd pleasers took spots three and four this week, with Brad Pitt edging out Tom Cruise for the bronze. Bullet Train brought in another $3.2 million, bringing its total up to $92.5 million, while Top Gun: Maverick settled for $3.17 million, bringing the latter film’s domestic total to a whopping $705 million.
Finally, The Invitation delivered a fine bookend to this week’s box office, rounding out the top five with another horror movie. Sony’s thriller scared up another $2.6 million, for a grand total of $18 million in three weeks.