“Smile,” the horror film from Paramount and writer-director Parker Finn, made $2 million at the box office Thursday in its preview screenings from roughly 3,000 screens and that began at 7 p.m. It opens on 3,648 screens this weekend.
“Smile” opens alongside Universal’s “Bros,” the LGBTQ+ and R-rated romantic comedy from writer and star Billy Eichner. “Bros” brought in $500,000 at the box office in its own preview screenings from 2,700 theaters that began at 5 p.m. It opens on 3,350 screens this weekend.
Neither “Smile” or “Bros” is expected to break the $20 million mark this weekend, a disappointing trend for movies this month at the box office, though both have modest budgets and hope to turn a profit on the backs of strong reviews for each and some creative viral marketing, whether it’s eerily grinning fans at a baseball game or Eichner running down New York City streets with Paul Rudd and a pack of lesbians.
For a comparison for “Smile,” Universal and Blumhouse’s “The Black Phone” from this summer, another original horror film, managed $3 million in its Thursday previews before opening to $23.6 million. “Smile” is expected from independent trackers to land somewhere in the low to mid teens.
As for “Bros,” the movie is historic for its fully LGBTQ+ cast, making any sort of box office comparisons exceedingly difficult. But the Scarlett Johansson R-rated comedy “Rough Night” from summer 2017, which also had a similar budget of roughly $20 million, made $700,000 before eventually making $8 million in its opening weekend.
“Smile” stars Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Robin Weigert, Caitlin Stasey with Kal Penn and Rob Morgan, and the film is about a doctor who witnesses a traumatic experience with one of her patients and then begins witnessing terrible forces and threats around her, all taking the form of people smiling directly at her.
“Bros” is directed by Nicholas Stoller and stars Eichner and Luke Macfarlane, both of whom are gay men seeking a more meaningful relationship if they can only find the time or manage their own commitment issues. The film has an impressive 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes and played to raves out of the Toronto International Film Festival. The cast is rounded out by Guy Branum, Miss Lawrence, Ts Madison, Dot-Marie Jones, Jim Rash, Eve Lindley, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Jai Rodriguez, and Amanda Bearse. The film also features appearances by Emmy winner Debra Messing, three-time Emmy nominee Bowen Yang and legendary four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein.