The Bad Guys And Memory Make For A Calm Before The Storm At The Box Office

This was one of the more quiet weekends we've experienced at the box office in quite some time. The only new wide release attempting to take anything away from the repeat business crowd was Liam Neeson's latest action flick "Memory,"coming just two months after the actor starred in another action flick, "Blacklight." Not to spoil the discussion here but audiences may have mostly had enough with these Neeson action movies, at least in terms of heading out to a theater to see them. That relative failure paved the way for "The Bad Guys" and a few other movies to make a little cash before "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" becomes the talk of the town this upcoming weekend. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

The Bad Guys repeats at number 1

Coming in at the top spot of the domestic chart for the second weekend in a row was Universal's animated family film "The Bad Guys," which took in another $16.1 million, per Box Office Mojo. The good news is that represents a pretty solid holdover, with the latest from DreamWorks dropping just 32.8% from last week. The not-so-great news for the industry overall is that $16 million is a pretty tiny number to have attached to the number one movie at the box office in a given weekend. It just illustrates how much this was a calm before the storm frame as Marvel will be unleashing one of the biggest films of the year come Friday. It's the tumbleweeds in a dusty street kind of quiet before guns start going off. But in this instance guns going off means lots of tickets being sold for "Doctor Strange."

"The Bad Guys" now sits at $44.4 million domestic and $118.7 million overall worldwide. That's certainly not bad and this figures to be one that does well with the family crowd on premium VOD as well, much like "Sing 2." Perhaps not a home run but probably a win for Universal in the end.

Liam Neeson's Memory fails him

The era of Nesson being able to rule the box office with an action film truly seems to be behind us. Director Martin Campbell's "Memory" took in just $3.1 million this weekend playing on over 2,500 screens, making for a pretty rough debut. Open Road Films is distributing this one but the idea here is probably take a little bit of change in ticket sales and expect that audiences will find this one at home, be it on VOD or when it inevitably makes its way to a streaming service. I couldn't dig up budget figures for this one but it looks to be relatively inexpensive, likely in the $15 to 25 million range. If it's on the lower end of that, it could still do okay in the end but okay is the keyword there. We're a long way from "Taken," that much is certain.

We're something like 13 years into Neeson's unexpected turn as an action star that saw major highs and, quite honestly, it was an impressive run. But the actor has starred in six of these things over the last two years and "Honest Thief" ($31 million) was the top earner of the bunch. These are not blockbuster numbers. These are passable numbers that ensure these things can keep getting made with reasonable budgets and modest returns in the long run when other revenue streams beyond the box office are taken into account. In any event, this one didn't do much to help the bottom line for theaters this weekend.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 passes the original

In better news, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" continued to do quite well for Paramount, with the sequel taking in another $11.3 million, which was good enough for the number two spot overall. But the big thing here is that its global total now stands at $323.5 million, which puts it above the original "Sonic the Hedgehog" ($319 million). The big caveat here is that the original ended up having its theatrical run cut short due to the pandemic, so it's hard to say what it might have been able to do under normal circumstances. In any case, this is good news for the studio as this one may be able to get close to $400 million before the end of its run, which is really solid for a movie with a reported $90 million budget. This all bodes very well for "Sonic the Hedgehog 3," which is already in the pipeline.

And the rest...

Perhaps the biggest story of the weekend overall is "Everything Everywhere All At Once." A24's much-acclaimed sci-fi film didn't drop at all this weekend. In fact, it added 2.2% to its total compared to last weekend, taking in another $5.5 million. It actually dropped 0% to start the weekend, which is a miracle in the moviegoing marketplace even before the pandemic. This is a true word-of-mouth miracle at this point. The film stands at $35.4 million domestically, which more than covers the studio's investment. A24 covered the budget by selling off the international rights which means they are going to profit big here. Depending on how strong the holds are in the coming weeks this could end up being the biggest A24 film ever, which is nothing shy of amazing.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" came in at number three with $8.3 million dropping 40%, which is very bad news for the "Harry Potter" spin-off. Its global total is $329 million and that is money that movie theaters are certainly happy to have. But Warner Bros. is going to have to think long and hard about what to do with the franchise beyond this entry because the decline from the first "Fantastic Beasts" to this one has been steep. There is no indication that audiences will turn up en masse for another one, so this iteration of the franchise is likely dead in the water.

"The Northman" came in at number four with $6.3 million dropping 48.7% compared to its first weekend. This is straight-up bad news for Focus Features as director Robert Eggers' $90 million Viking epic just isn't connecting with mainstream audiences the way it needed to. Apologies to any filmmakers trying to get an out-of-the-box blockbuster made in the near future.

Meanwhile, "The Lost City" continued to hold incredibly well dropping just 9.3% with another $3.93 million. The rom-com now stands at $148 million worldwide and it may have some gas left in the tank overseas. An absolute win. Unfortunately, Nic Cage's "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," one of the best-reviewed movies of the actor's career, took in just $3.92 million in its second weekend. It dropped 45% and has taken in a total of $13.5 million domestically thus far. On a $30 million budget, that's not at all good and, unless overseas markets turn out in droves, this one is going to be a misfire for Lionsgate, and that is a true bummer.