Nope's Box Office Victory Cements Jordan Peele As A Franchise Unto Himself

For a great many lovers of pop culture, the weekend box office was greatly overshadowed by the return of San Diego Comic-Con. It was the first in-person event since 2019 and it did not disappoint in terms of big, flashy news that was worth paying attention to. Be that as it may, it was still a big weekend as Jordan Peele's "Nope" debuted in theaters and easily managed to take the top spot, serving as a huge win for original cinema in the pandemic era.

Meanwhile, "Thor: Love and Thunder" stayed the course while "Elvis" passed "Lightyear" domestically. Plus, virtually every movie in the top 10 held well and avoided a significant drop. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

Nope takes the top spot away from Thor

According to Box Office Mojo, "Nope" arrived in theaters with a $44 million opening, easily taking the top spot. While that was slightly on the lower end of expectations, it was still better than "Get Out" ($33.3 million), though not quite as much as "Us" ($71.1 million). Be that as it may, it still ranks as the biggest debut for an original film since "Us," amazingly enough. Yes, even when accounting for most of 2019 well before the pandemic took hold, no other original film did better at the box office on opening weekend than Peele's previous film, and he is once again here to save the day.

The only thing working against "Nope," which stars Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, and Steven Yeun, is that it carries a $68 million budget. By contrast, "Get Out" was made for a mere $4.5 million, while "Us" cost around $20 million. Still, for Universal Pictures, if the film can hold decently well in the coming weeks and find an audience overseas, this figures to be a win for original cinema. Moreover, it cements Peele as a filmmaker audiences implicitly trust, which is a rare thing these days.

"Get Out" earned so much goodwill with moviegoers that Peele's name alone attached to an intriguing premise is enough to guarantee a certain level of success. Unless Peele delivers several real stinkers in a row, he has essentially become a franchise unto himself. Jordan Peele is a name that puts meat in seats. Period. That is good for cinema.

Love and Thunder nears a big milestone

Speaking of franchises, Marvel's "Thor: Love and Thunder" earned $22.1 million domestically in its third weekend, which was good enough for the top spot. Its drop was 52.6%, which wasn't bad considering the massive drop it suffered last weekend. Regardless, director Taika Waititi's latest entry to the MCU has grossed $276.2 million domestically to date, to go with $322 million internationally for a total of $598.2 million. It will cross $600 million any minute now, if it hasn't already, which is a damn good number.

It is beginning to feel unlikely that it will be able to catch "Thor: Ragnarok" ($854 million). Still, a sequel doesn't need to make more than its predecessor to be a hit and at times, Marvel's own ridiculous track record of success makes that easy to forget. This is still a hit that every other studio in town would kill to have.

Elvis passes Lightyear

One of the most interesting things that happened this weekend relates to "Elvis" as the biopic added another $6.2 million to its growing total, dropping just 21.3% and landing in sixth place. Its domestic total now stands at $118.3 million which, incredibly, is more than Pixar's "Lightyear" ($117.1 million), has made to date. Worldwide, it's a slightly different story as "Elvis" is at $210.1 million, while "Lightyear” is at $214.9. Be that as it may, "Elvis" is going to overtake Disney's "Toy Story" spin-off in a matter of days, marking both a surprise win for Warner Bros. and a devastating loss for the Mouse House.

"Lightyear" had clearly been marked as a bomb early on in its run but it was hard to imagine it was going to go this poorly. The big question that now lingers is what Disney will do with the Pixar brand in the future. Is it going to be left to languish mostly in the streaming world? One can hope not, but this is a big defeat. But the success of "Elvis" means audiences are ready and willing to show up for adult-geared films after they were seemingly so very selective in 2021. Nature is healing.

And the rest...

Taking the number three spot was "Minions: The Rise of Gru" with $17.7 million. Universal's animated sequel sits at $640 million worldwide and counting. Will it have enough juice to get to $1 billion? Maybe, maybe not. No matter what this is enough to ensure we will be lousy with Minions for years to come.

Continuing to surprise, "Where the Crawdads Sing" landed at number four with $10.3 million in its second weekend, with $38.3 million domestic to its name thus far. Not a bad start for a movie with a reported $24 million budget, especially if international audiences turn up in the coming weeks. Rounding out the top five was "Top Gun: Maverick" which continues to impress. In its ninth (!!!) weekend, the Tom Cruise sequel took in another $10 million, giving it $635.5 million domestic to date. $1.28 billion is where the film sits globally and, at this point, it's just a matter of how far up the all-time box office chart that it can climb.

"Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank" came in at number seven with $3.8 million, narrowly beating "The Black Phone" which, despite being available on VOD, earned another $3.4 million. The $18 million-budgeted horror flick has now made $130 million worldwide — a straight-up smash hit. "Jurassic World Dominion" came in at number nine with $2.9 million and has crossed $920 million worldwide. $1 billion now seems pretty much out of reach. Lastly, "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" rounded out the top 10 with $1.3 million.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the Blumhouse action/comedy "Vengeance" arrives alongside the big new release, the animated "DC League of Super-Pets," which may be able to take the top spot away from "Nope."