Downton Abbey And Men Were Still No Match For Marvel At The Box Office

Despite being a good, if not great, weekend at the box office in a lot of ways, it still felt like a quiet one. "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" won its third weekend in a row, "Downton Abbey: A New Era" and "Men" both did fine-if-not-exciting business relative to expectations, and some other movies neared or passed big milestones. Though it also felt like a calm before the Tom Cruise storm as "Top Gun: Maverick" hits theaters this weekend but before that happens, we have much to discuss with last weekend's box office numbers. Let's dig in, shall we?

Doctor Strange continues its run at the top

In its third weekend, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" took in $31.6 million, according to Box Office Mojo. That represents a reasonable 48.8% drop from its rather sizable drop last weekend, so Marvel's latest has held up just fine. I largely chalk this up to word of mouth not being nearly as good as it was with "Spider-Man: No Way Home," but director Sam Raimi's latest now sits at $803.1 million worldwide now, and that makes it the highest-grossing movie of 2022 (so far) by a considerable margin, overtaking "The Batman" ($768.4 million).

Barring an absolutely collapse both domestically and abroad once "Top Gun" hits theaters, this means that the "Doctor Strange" sequel is very likely, if not guaranteed, to cross the $1 billion mark before the end of its run, giving the MCU yet another entry in that elite club. It will also be only the second film to cross that major milestone in the pandemic era, just behind "Spider-Man: No Way Home." The common threads? The Marvel name and Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange. Make of that what you will.

Downtown Abbey: A New Era can't match its predecessor

Sometimes a movie's success can make its sequel's numbers look bad, even if that's not really the case. This is something to keep in mind when looking at "Downton Abbey: A New Era," which made $16 million this weekend in its opening frame. That marks a pretty steep drop from the original "Downton Abbey" movie, which earned $31 million in 2019 and ended with $192 million worldwide. All of that was done against a modest $13 million budget, which all but guaranteed a sequel. Despite a much larger $40 million reported production budget, that sequel arrived without quite as much fanfare.

It should be noted that "A New Era" did decently overseas, taking in $35.6 million in international markets for a grand total of $51.7 million worldwide. This is very much good news for Focus Features, a studio that has suffered a string of flops and disappointments in the pandemic era, including the recently-released Viking epic "The Northman," which ranks as an epic financial bomb, it pains me to say. But "Downton Abbey: A New Era" still appears to be a sequel that can more than double its production budget at the box office before likely having a nice little run on VOD and streaming. Stealing a line from Bruce Banner, I see this as an absolute win. It's just not as flashy of a win as the first movie was, and that's okay!

Men did not resonate with general audiences

The other big, new release this weekend was A24's "Men," the latest from "Ex Machina" filmmaker Alex Garland. The reviews made it quite clear that this was going to be a challenging movie for mainstream moviegoers, something I can attest to, having seen the movie at an early screening before having any real idea of what Garland had cooked up. The numbers largely speak to the movie that was made, earning just $3.2 million in its opening weekend, good enough for the number five spot.

 "Men" carries a very poor D+ Cinemascore, and even under the best of circumstances, it was never going to be a big draw. It seems A24 was able to make this for a reasonable amount, though no specific budget figures have been released. So just for argument's sake, let's say the budget was $15 million or less. Then it could make a little big of dough in theaters that could set it up for a decent VOD run and, in the end, might be able to do okay. Again, Garland's own expectations with his previous efforts, such as "Annihilation," may have set an unreasonable expectation here. "Men," relative to the movie that it is, seems like it's going to do all right in the grand scheme of things. It's hard to expect more from something like this in the current marketplace.

And the rest...

In excellent news for lovers of original cinema, "Everything Everywhere All At Once" earned another $3.1 million, dropping just 5.5% this weekend for a grand total of $52.2 million domestic. That now makes it officially A24's highest-grossing movie ever, surpassing "Uncut Gems." The fact that the movie is holding like gangbusters week-to-week is a wonderful omen. This is a word-of-mouth miracle that we thought was dead in the water post-pandemic. 

"The Bad Guys" held strong ad rounded out the top three with $6 million, giving Universal's animated family-friendly flick $182 million globally. If it can somehow leg out to $200 million, I would expect a sequel announcement. Speaking of sequels, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" added another $3.9 million domestically with its global total now at $375 million, making this one heck of a win for Paramount. It may not get to $400 million, but everything else from this point on is just extra cherries on top, so it's not a big deal even if that nice, round number would look good on the balance sheet.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" fell all the way to number seven this week with just $1.9 million. The "Harry Potter" spin-off has made just $388 million globally, making it a big loss, especially after the first entry in the series made $814 million just six years ago. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. And that's probably going to be pretty close to all there is domestically, as the film is hitting HBO Max next week. In more bad news, "Firestarter" earned just $1.9 million in its second weekend, with the Stephen King adaptation pretty much DOA. 

Rounding out the top ten were "The Lost City" ($1.5 million) and "The Northman" ($1 million). Paramount's "The Lost City" is some change in the couch cushions away from crossing $100 million domestic, which is amazing considering that rom-coms seemed like something that could only play on Netflix in the modern era. Meanwhile, "The Northman" stands at $63.5 million worldwide against a reported $90 million budget. It may well be one of the biggest bombs of the year, and that is going to be tough to swallow for Focus Features.