“Elvis,” Baz Luhrmann’s kaleidoscopic look at the “King of Rock,” grossed $3.5 million in Thursday previews, while “The Black Phone,” a child abduction chiller from Blumhouse, scared up $3 million. The two films are hoping to make a mark at the box office this weekend, but they face stiff competition from holdovers such as “Jurassic World Dominion,” “Lightyear” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” It’s a wide open field as they elbow their way to the top of the chart.
“Elvis,” a Warner Bros. release that carries with it the stamp of approval from the Presley family, is looking at a $30 million debut. “The Black Phone,” which is being distributed by Universal, features Ethan Hawke as a masked serial killer who kidnaps a teenage boy. It should pull in $15 million in its initial weekend in theaters, but it also cost a fraction of what “Elvis” did, having a price tag of just $18 million.
Austin Butler has been scoring raves for his chameleonic turn as Elvis Presley, charting his life and career from his early days as a gyrating heart throb through his corpulent coda as a Vegas regular. The film has had a few detractors, with Tom Hanks’ hammy performance as Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, drawing much of the fire. However, most critics seem to dig Luhrmann’s antic take, with Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman calling the film “a spangly pinwheel of a movie that converts the Elvis saga we all carry around in our heads into a lavishly staged biopic-as-pop-opera.” That, it seems, is mostly a good thing.
“The Black Phone” has also enjoyed good reviews, earning a sterling 87% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie is directed by Scott Derrickson, who is best known for overseeing “Doctor Strange.”