After a pretty successful summer season, it’s officially the dog days at the domestic box office.
Without a major studio movie on the horizon, theater operators are banking on a smattering of smaller, lower-budgeted horror stories, comedies and dramas to take advantage of the lull in blockbusters. Basically, the next few weeks will cater to the rare ticket buyers who have been dying to return to the movies, but aren’t fans of comic book adventures or action tentpoles.
This weekend will be particularly quiet with Lionsgate’s action-thriller “Fall,” A24’s satirical slasher “Bodies Bodies Bodies” and Diane Keaton’s body-swap comedy “Mack & Rita” from Gravitas Ventures, as the only new nationwide releases. According to tracking estimates, “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” which is expanding to 1,200 locations, is aiming for $2 million to $3 million in domestic ticket sales. Meanwhile “Fall,” which is debuting in 1,548 North American venues, and “Mack & Rita,” also playing on more than 1,000 screens, are each estimated to bring in $1 million to $2 million between Friday and Sunday.
With those single-digit projections, last weekend’s champion “Bullet Train” is expected to repeat No. 1 at the domestic box office. The blood-soaked Sony Pictures pic, starring Brad Pitt as a hitman nicknamed Ladybug, opened to $30.1 million and looks to add $13 million to $15 million in its sophomore outing. The R-rated “Bullet Train” cost $90 million to produce, so it needs to sustain momentum in the coming weeks to justify its hefty price tag — and to convince studios to keep investing in original movies.
Already, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” has kicked off in limited release with a promising $226,526 from six theaters in New York and Los Angeles. With solid word-of-mouth and positive reviews, the Gen Z-skewing “Bodies Bodies Bodies” looks to rank above “Fall” on domestic box office charts. However, it’ll likely arrive behind holdovers like “DC League of Super-Pets,” Jordan Peele’s UFO thriller “Nope” and Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” features the buzzy ensemble cast of “The Hate U Give’s” Amandla Stenberg, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” breakout Maria Bakalova, “Shiva Baby” star Rachel Sennott and “Saturday Night Live’s” Pete Davidson, and centers on rich 20-somethings who plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion that turns deadly.
There are plenty of options for moviegoers who want their palms to sweat. Directed by Scott Mann, “Fall” is an adrenaline-inducing thriller about best friends Becky and Hunter (Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner) who climb 2,000 feet to the top of an abandoned radio tower and find themselves stranded with no way down. Though the movie has received mixed reviews, Variety‘s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman praised “Fall” as a “fun, occasionally cheesy, but mostly ingeniously made thriller.”
“It’s for anyone who ate up ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,’ as well as the awesome rock-climbing documentaries ‘Free Solo’ and ‘The Dawn Wall,’ and wants to continue that shivery vicarious high,” he wrote.
Rounding out the weekend is “Mack and Rita,” a funny film about a 30-year-old writer (played by Elizabeth Lail) who spends a wild weekend in Palm Springs and wakes up in the body of a septuagenarian (Keaton). Reviews may not convince people — other than Diane Keaton superfans — to go to theaters, as the film carries an ignominious 22% average on Rotten Tomatoes.
In Variety’s review, critic Amy Nicholson says Keaton “does her best with the material,” adding that “Keaton’s presence is the only reason one can imagine that talents like Taylour Paige, Loretta Devine, Wendi Malick, Lois Smith, and Nicole Byer signed on to this project.”
Several films will open in limited release, including Bleecker Street’s coming-of-age drama “Summering,” the Aubrey Plaza-led heist thriller “Emily the Criminal” from Roadside Attractions, and IFC Film’s con-artist mystery “Rogue Agent.”