The Invitation Tops Box Office With Just $7 Million In Unnecessarily Terrible Weekend

It was another tragically quiet weekend at the box office as Sony Pictures released the vampire flick "The Invitation" as the "big" new release. It (by default) topped the charts, taking the top spot from last week's winner, "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero," which essentially fell off a cliff.

It was a terrible weekend and a preview of what's to come until maybe as late as mid-October. Hollywood has left August and September very bare in terms of new releases capable of putting meaningful butts in seats. Meanwhile, "Rogue One" made "Star Wars" relevant at the box office again, "Three Thousand Years of Longing" bombed badly, and "Breaking" made very little impression. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

The Invitation sucks its way to a $7 million win

According to Box Office Mojo, "The Invitation" topped the charts with a mere $7 million. That number is so bad that it almost makes it feel like we're in the heart of the pandemic in 2020 again, when Russel Crowe's "Unhinged" was the only game in town and drive-ins were largely keeping the industry on life support. And yet, the exhibition industry is up and running just fine — though Regal's parent company did just file for bankruptcy. Be that as it may, they are still open and, more to the point, desperately need some business right now.

For the moment, I digress. Circling back to the movie at hand, it didn't perform well critically and the vampire flick simply didn't offer broad enough appeal to get moviegoers out en masse. Nathalie Emmanuel is part of the ensemble for the "Fast & Furious" films and was a major player on "Game of Thrones," but it takes a lot for someone to be a meat-in-seats type of star these days. Point being, this might have been okay on its own but as the winner of the weekend? Ouch. The only good news is that Sony's horror flick reportedly only carries a $10 million production budget, so it should be fine.

Hollywood is shooting itself in the foot

The main thing to focus on between this and last week is that there is no good reason for things to be this way right now. Studios have movies ready to go, they just left a two month gap on the calendar for reasons that make absolutely not sense. With the streaming landscape shifting once again, studios are definitely banking on theaters being there for the future. But this is a symbiotic relationship and, for theaters to stay open and healthy, they need a steady stream of movies that mainstream moviegoers actually want to see.

To that end, "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero" made just $4.5 million this weekend, falling all the way to number 5 on the charts representing a nearly 80% drop compared to its chart-topping debut. It's great that anime has found an audience in North America and that can certainly be part of the equation. However, it can't be the whole of the equation — not by a long shot. Hollywood is shooting itself in the foot right now and the industry is suffering needlessly. One can only hope this doesn't happen in 2023 because it's going to be a long ride through September.

Three Thousand Years of Longing bombs in a bad way

One part of the overall tragedy this weekend was "Three Thousand Years of Longing," the first feature film from director George Miller since his beloved action epic "Mad Max: Fury Road." One might have thought that would be a bigger deal but MGM and United Artists hardly marketed the film and it's clear that the general public had right next to no idea that it was even coming out. Miller's fantasy flick (which cost $60 million to produce) earned a stunningly bad $2.8 million on more than 2,400 screens. It placed all the way at number 7 on the charts just behind "DC League of Super-Pets" ($4.2 million), and barely ahead of "Minions: The Rise of Gru" ($2.7 million). That instantly makes it one of the biggest financial flops of the year.

The real shame of it is that this really could have been a bigger deal and more people might have been curious what the guy behind "Fury Road" did with a genie story starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. And yet, here we are. Does the Amazon purchase of MGM earlier this year have anything to do with it? Was the marketing budget for this movie a casualty of that deal? It's all speculation. Either way, it's a brutal result and contributed to a terrible few days worth of ticket sales.

Rogue One cleaned up in its re-release

One tiny little bright spot this weekend came from Disney, with the studio re-releasing 2016's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" on 250 IMAX screens for a one-weekend-only event. It was to promote the upcoming release of "Andor" on Disney+, which serves as a prequel to the events of the movie, which earned $1 billion in its original run. It turns out, audiences are still hungry for "Star Wars" on the big screen as the film earned $1.1 million during its extremely limited screening window.

We haven't had a movie in the franchise in theaters since "The Rise of Skywalker," with everything else happening on Disney+ in the form of shows like "The Mandalorian" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi." With that little bit of extra cash, "Rogue One" now has earned $105 million on IMAX screens alone, making it one of the top 10 highest-grossing IMAX releases ever. Maybe Disney can take this as a sign that "Star Wars" can and should still have a future on the big screen.

And the rest...

Sony also took the number two spot this weekend with "Bullet Train" taking in another $5.6 million in its fourth weekend. The action flick is benefiting from a lack of competition and has made $173 million worldwide to date. But its $90 million budget continues to be a big issue. Rounding out the top three was "Beast," the giant lion flick that failed to top the charts last week. It fell nearly 58% taking in $4.9 million. It has now earned $36 million worldwide against a $36 million budget. Universal has a long way to go before this one can be considered a win. Not what they were hoping for, no two ways about it.

"Top Gun: Maverick" stayed in the top five (despite being available on Digital) with $4.7 million, for a $1.42 billion global haul. It is getting close to $700 million domestic, which is an absolutely insane figure. Falling to number nine this week was "Thor: Love and Thunder" with $3.7 million. It is approaching $750 million worldwide, making it a somewhat quiet, huge hit for Marvel. What else is new?

Rounding out the top 10 was "Where the Crawdads Sing," which has quietly been a huge hit for Sony. It added $2.3 million to its growing total, which stands at $81.8 million domestic and $24.7 million internationally for a grand total of $106.5 million. On a $24 million budget, that's outstanding. Lower-mid-budget movies can work and this is a prime example of why Hollywood should not ignore them going forward.

Looking ahead, the "Spider-Man: No Way Home" re-release figures to be the biggest game in town this weekend as Focus Features will see what "Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul" can do. I'm not exactly expecting a miracle on that front.