‘The Little Things’ Leads the Weak Super Bowl Box Office Weekend

Tom Brueggemann
·4 min read

If theaters were told they needed to close one weekend a year, Super Bowl Sunday would be a strong contender. Normally it’s the worst grossing, or very close; studios avoid the date and often the weekends around it. While box-office performance has been weak for nearly a year, this one is worse than usual: The total is around $7.4 million for the top 10, and $8.5 million overall from approximately 2,500 open theaters in North America.

One likely reason is the proliferation of parallel home viewing. Seven of the titles, and nine of the top 12, are available on non-theater platforms.. The parallel 2020 calendar weekend grossed $156 million; the Super Bowl was the previous weekend, and took in $81 million. Even from that more apt comparison, ticket sales are down about 90 percent.

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It didn’t help that “The Little Things,” repeating as #1, was down 55 percent. It faced a lack of audience enthusiasm (it had a weak B- Cinemascore) as well as access on HBO Max likely were factors as well. Jared Leto’s surprising supporting actor nominations from SAG and the Golden Globes received media attention, but the benefit might have been more for the streaming site. Other titles had better than normal holds. Apart from “Little Things,” all dropped 30 percent or less.

Long-running “The War with Grandpa” — now in its fourth month — actually increased 18 percent, and this film already cycled through Premium VOD availability. It now can be seen at home for $5.99. Based on its per-theater average, most screenings host only a handful of viewers.

Two films out of the just-completed virtual Sundance — “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros., same day as HBO Max) and “Land” (Focus) — open next weekend, but theaters will hope longer-playing titles sustain interest.

Studio Ghibli’s “Earwig and the Witch” (GKids), a rare critical miss from the Japanese animation company (only a 45 score at Metacritic) had some theater dates along with its HBO Max premiere. But they only came to about $100,000 in 430 theaters (about $33,000 more in some initial dates that opened Wednesday.)

Nomadland

Searchlight continues to block any accounting for the performance of “Nomadland” at IMAX theaters. We don’t know how many played in the second weekend expansion. Checking specific theater pre-sale seating charts at two metro New York theaters, it appeared the Saturday evening prime show sold around 25 tickets at each (at about $20 per ticket for the elevated presentation). This is not remotely a fair assessment of what the acclaimed film might have done otherwise, but does suggest the difficulty faced by leading adult-oriented Oscar contenders in benefitting from theaters at the moment.

Also playing IMAX was the first of three planned reissues of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. “The Fellowship of the Ring” grossed $182,000 at 132 theaters.

The Top Ten

1. The Little Things (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1; also available on HBO Max

$2,100,000 (-55%) in 2,206 theaters (+37); PTA (per theater average): $952; Cumulative: $7,600,000

2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) Week 11; Last weekend #2; also available on PVOD

$1,760,000 (-3%) in 1,935 theaters (+34); PTA: $910; Cumulative: $46,002,000

3. The Marksman (Open Films) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$1,000,000 (-20%) in 2,018 theaters (no change); PTA: $496; Cumulative: $9,113,000

4. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.) Week 7; Last weekend #3

$905,000 (-30%); Cumulative: $40,300,000 (theater count not reported, PTA not available)

5. Monster Hunter (Sony) Week 8; Last weekend #5

$585,000 (-20%) in 1,467 theaters (-38); PTA: $396; Cumulative: $11,882,000

6. News of the World (Universal) Week 7; Last weekend #6; also available on PVOD

$400,000 (-26%) in 1,537 theaters (-137); PTA: $260; Cumulative: $10,884,000

7. Promising Young Woman (Focus) Week 7; Last weekend #7, also available on PVOD

$220,000 (-17%) in 923 theaters (-133); PTA: $238; Cumulative: $4,700,000

8. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Warner Bros.) REISSUE

$182,000 in 132 theaters; PTA: $1,379; Cumulative: (adjusted) $510,500,000

9. Fatale (Lionsgate) Week 8; Last weekend 8#; also available on PVOD

$170,000 (-22%) in 864 theaters (-158); PTA: $197; Cumulative: $5,826,000

10. The War With Grandpa (101) Week 18; Last weekend #9; also available on VOD

$167,333 (+18%) in 530 theaters (+5); PTA: $316; Cumulative: $19,824,000

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