‘IF’ Can’t Lift May Box Office Out of Doldrums With $35 Million Opening

Despite strong audience reception, Paramount’s “IF” isn’t pulling the early summer box office out of its streak of underperforming weekends, taking No. 1 with just a $35 million opening from 4,041 theaters and launching to $55 million worldwide.

Compared to past family films not based on a pre-existing IP, “IF” is opening above the $29.6 million of last year’s Pixar film “Elemental,” but behind the unadjusted $37.5 million start for the 2011 live-action/CGI Universal release “Hop.” It is also opening behind pre-release projections of a $40 million start.

Without a strong Marvel film supporting the market, overall grosses for the third weekend of May are estimated to take a 20% year-over-year drop to $99 million. While next weekend will see films like Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s “Furiosa” and Sony’s “The Garfield Movie” hit screens, neither of those films are projected for an opening weekend of more than $50 million over four days.

This will likely mean that overall grosses for the holiday weekend will fail to eclipse $200 million, a mark that the box office was able pass in 2022 and 2023. If overall grosses can’t pass $180 million, it will be the first time since 1999 that has happened.

As for “IF,” John Krasinski’s family film received mixed reviews from critics with a 49% Rotten Tomatoes score, but has earned strong marks from a diverse audience with an A on CinemaScore; PostTrak scores of 4.5/5 from general audiences, 4.5/5 kids and 5/5 parents, and 87% audience Rotten Tomatoes score.

“IF” will need the word-of-mouth from that buzz to carry far, as it holds a reported $110 million budget before marketing costs and will face direct competition from “The Garfield Movie” for families looking to go to the movies on Memorial Day weekend. With significant tonal differences from the animated film about the lazy orange cat, there’s a chance that “IF” can find its own lane among audiences if there’s enough moviegoing interest among families with kids beginning school break this coming week.

In second place is Disney/20th Century’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which is holding fairly well with $26 million in its second weekend as it will cross the $100 million domestic mark on its second Sunday in theaters. It has dropped 56% from its $58.5 million opening weekend, a stronger hold than the 63% drop that “War for the Planet of the Apes” earned in 2017.

Globally, “Kingdom” now stands at $237.5 million, and is showing better holds than “War” in overseas markets outside of China. But China is the big outlier. Like almost all post-COVID Hollywood franchise films, “Kingdom” is suffering from the general loss of interest among Chinese moviegoers and is unlikely to match the $112 million total that “War” earned in that country as it has grossed just $20 million there after two weekends.

Whether the rest of the world will be able to leg out enough to make up for the lost revenue in China and help “Kingdom” match the $490 million global gross of its predecessor remains to be seen.

In third is Lionsgate’s “The Strangers – Chapter 1,” which is beating projections with a $12 million opening from 2,856 locations. The first chapter in a trilogy based on the 2008 home invasion slasher had been projected for a $7-9 million opening and carries a light $8.5 million budget before a digital-first marketing spend.

The bad news is that reception for “Strangers” has been poor with a C on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 13% critics and 42% audience. That may drag down interest in the next installment of the reboot trilogy, which is set to come out later this year. But considering that the sequel is likely to have a similarly low production budget, it still has a chance of easily clearing its break-even point.

In fourth is Universal/87North’s “The Fall Guy,” which is looking like its fate as a well-reviewed flop is sealed as it earned $7.1 million domestic and $15.6 million worldwide in its third weekend. With a reported production budget of at least $125 million before an expansive marketing campaign, “The Fall Guy” has grossed just $64.5 million domestic and $127.5 million worldwide.

Completing the top five is Focus Features/StudioCanal’s “Back to Black,” the Amy Winehouse biopic that is opening to an anemic $2.85 million from 2,010 locations. Focus is only handling distribution on the film for a minimum guarantee, and overseas turnout for the film will bail it out as it has grossed $37 million internationally.

But “Back to Black” now joins the likes of “Lisa Frankenstein,” “Drive-Away Dolls” and “The American Society of Magical Negroes” among the streak of wide release domestic busts for Focus this year. The Comcast indie wing will try to turn things around next month with “The Bikeriders,” which premiered at Telluride last year to strong reviews and was picked up by Focus after Disney dropped a planned release through 20th Century Studios due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.

In limited release, the Amazon Prime documentary “Blue Angels” opened on 255 Imax screens for a limited engagement, earning $1.3 million this weekend and cracking the top 10. A24’s “I Saw the TV Glow” also cracked $1 million this weekend as it expanded to 469 locations this weekend, bringing its total to just shy of $1.5 million.

Finally, Neon released the comedy “Babes” starring Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau in 12 theaters, grossing $171,300 for a weekend-best average of $14,700. The comedy from debuting director Pamela Adlon has been well received with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score.

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