Smile Won The Box Office But Bros Bombed In A Mixed Weekend For Original Movies

We are finally climbing out of the depths of hell that was September at the box office, as Paramount's original horror flick "Smile" hit theaters this past weekend and topped the charts. It is just the first of several big movies on the way in the coming weeks that should help end the year on a high note. Unfortunately, Billy Eichner's "Bros," an original romantic comedy, also opened over the weekend and failed to find its audience. In the end, it served as a mixed bag for original cinema. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

Smile is another big win for original horror

Director Parker Finn's "Smile," which serves as his feature directorial debut, won the weekend with a reported $22 million haul, according to Box Office Mojo. The film, which debuted at Fantastic Fest recently, entered the weekend with largely positive reviews and helped to kick off the Halloween season. The clever marketing campaign and simple hook worked like gangbusters. The movie came with a $17 million budget, meaning that it's well on its way to becoming a hit. Internationally, it pulled in an additional $14.5 million for a grand total of $36.5 million. If it can avoid a massive drop before "Halloween Ends" arrives in a couple of weeks, this will be another huge win for Paramount in a year full of wins for the studio.

Most importantly, it's another win for original horror. While horror has performed well in the post-pandemic theatrical landscape, it was a bit iffy as to whether or not original horror would do as well as something like "Scream" or "Halloween Kills." Yet, we had "Barbarian" top the charts recently, and "The Black Phone" is arguably one of the biggest hits of the year (relative to its budget). The very good news is that audiences have shown that they are very much open to original genre films, and that will encourage studios to put money into them in the future. Money is, after all, the primary language that Hollywood speaks.

Bros failed to find its audience

On the other end of the spectrum, this weekend also saw the release of "Bros," a gay rom-com starring Billy Eichner that entered the weekend with glowing reviews. Unfortunately, it failed to find its audience and landed at number four on the charts with just $4.8 million. The good news here is that Universal Pictures didn't overspend on this one, as it carries a $22 million budget. Still, it's a brutal result for those who wish to see comedy on the big screen and not relegated to streaming services like Netflix.

So what went wrong? Eichner took to Twitter to claim that straight people didn't show up and do their part. All due respect, but when a movie makes less than $5 million on its opening weekend, just about nobody showed up. It's not necessarily fair to blame any one group for the relative failure, in my humble opinion. To be fair, we saw earlier this year with "The Lost City" that big screen rom-coms can totally work, it just didn't in this case. Hopefully, this one can find its audience on VOD and not discourage Universal from taking similar risks in the future.

Don't Worry Darling and The Woman King pass $50 million

Last week's winner, "Don't Worry Darling," fell pretty hard, dropping 62.3% with a $7.3 million haul. Still, that was good enough for second place. Director Olivia Wilde's film has now earned $54.7 million worldwide, despite all of the controversy that dominated the conversation ahead of its opening. While it still has a long way to go to justify its $35 million budget, this could very well be an argument in favor of mid-budget studio films.

Similarly, "The Woman King" earned just shy of $7 million in its third weekend, dropping just 36.4%, suggesting very good word of mouth. It now sits at $50.1 million, but the vast majority of that is from domestic ticket sales. Assuming international audiences turn up as it rolls out, this could end up being a good hit for Sony, especially if it can earn some Oscar nominations. With a $50 million budget, it does sit on the upper side of mid-budget fare and probably needs to clear somewhere around $150 million to be considered a success. But that seems in reach and could encourage other studios to pursue ambitious, mid-budget projects.

And the rest...

Rounding out the top five for the weekend was the "Avatar" re-release, which pulled in another $4.7 million. That means James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster has amassed $58 million worldwide since hitting theaters again last week and has pushed the movie's grand total past $2.9 billion. That $3 billion mark seems out of reach, but this bodes very well for "Avatar: The Way of Water" in December. 

"Ponniyin Selvan," an Indian import, managed to sneak into the top ten with $4 million, landing at number six. The success of "RRR" has opened up opportunities for more movies like this and, as I've said many times, any avenue that can be opened up to put meat in seats is a good thing. Period.

Meanwhile, "Barbarian" continued to do well, making another $2.8 million in the number seven spot. It stands at $33.1 million domestic, with an international rollout presumably happening in the coming weeks. Sony's "Bullet Train" arrived at number eight with $1.4 million, bringing its global total to $235, just as the $90 million action flick arrives on digital. Rounding out the top ten were "DC League of Super-Pets" ($1.3 million) and "Top Gun: Maverick" ($1.2 million).

Looking ahead, we've got David O'Russel's "Amsterdam" and the kid friendly "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile" hitting theaters this weekend.