Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the third chapter in Channing Tatum’s steamy stripper series, topped a glacial Super Bowl weekend at the box office, generating a decent $8.2 million from only 1,500 North American theaters.

It’s the softest start yet in the decade-old franchise following 2012’s “Magic Mike” (which opened to $39 million) and 2015’s “Magic Mike XXL” (which opened to $12.8 million). The first two installments were huge commercial hits, ultimately grossing $167 million and $117 million respectively on economical budgets. The threequel is available on half the number of screens as its predecessors and collected $5,467 per location, the best theater average in the top five.

“Last Dance” added $10.4 million at the international box office, boosting its global tally to $18.6 million.

The third movie, in which Tatum returns as a stripper with a heart of gold, wasn’t intended to play in theaters at first. The Warner Bros. release, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-stars Salma Hayek Pinault, was commissioned for HBO Max and granted a production and marketing budget that corresponds with expectations for streaming releases. But once Discovery bought the company and David Zaslav took over as CEO, executives opted to give “Last Dance” a theatrical release because of encouragingly positive test screenings.

The film’s price tag is in the high $40 million range, not including the $20 million spent on marketing, so it’ll struggle to become profitable in its theatrical run. Yet the movie stands to make more money on home entertainment than it would have without playing in multiplexes. It also brings attention to the Las Vegas show “Magic Mike Live,” which has reported boosts in sales after first-looks and trailer debuts for “Last Dance.”

“This is a soft opening for a comedy drama sequel,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. He adds, “The ‘Magic Mike’ series has been very profitable; this theatrical release is going to add ancillary value to all three ‘Magic Mikes.'”

Super Bowl weekend, which is the biggest TV event of the year, is rarely a busy time for moviegoing, and this Sunday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs is no exception. Overall ticket sales topped out at $51 million, according to Comscore, which is down from the $84 million generated in 2020 and the $75 million generated in 2019.

“Magic Mike’s Last Dance” and “Titanic,” which Paramount re-released in theaters in honor of the romantic epic’s 25th anniversary, were timed to Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, but they also worked as counter-programming against the big game. Tatum is clearly the king of the romantic holiday — “Magic Mike 3” is the actor’s third movie to debut in first place ahead of Valentine’s Day, following 2012’s “The Vow” and 2010’s “Dear John.”

In a break from tradition, Warner Bros. waited until Sunday to share grosses and shielded pre-release tracking on the research platform Rentrak, which collects and distributes daily, down-to-the-minute ticket sales. The decision, which is ruffling some feathers among rivals, is presumably an attempt to tightly control the film’s box office coverage since “Last Dance” was expected to debut to less than the first two films in the series. Warner Bros. declined to comment.

“Titanic” sailed to third place with $6.4 million from 2,464 cinemas, which isn’t bad for a movie that premiered on the big screen a quarter of a century ago and remains widely available at home. But it’s below the recent re-release of 2009’s “Avatar,” which generated $10 million last fall in advance of the sequel’s long-awaited debut.

It landed behind a different James Cameron blockbuster, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which secured the No. 2 spot with $6.9 million from 3,065 theaters in its ninth weekend of release. So far, “Avatar 2” has grossed $647 million in North America and $2.176 billion globally.

Elsewhere, Paramount’s octogenarian comedy “80 for Brady” stayed strong in its sophomore outing, dipping 53% to add $6 million from 3,939 locations. The film, starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field as best friends whose obsession with Tom Brady brings them to the Super Bowl, has earned $24.9 million to date. It’s a pretty good result for the $28 million-budgeted movie, which is expected to remain a draw for older female audiences in the coming weeks.

Two titles from Universal Pictures, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “Knock at the Cabin,” are tied for fifth place, with each film bringing in $5.5 million. The “Puss in Boots” sequel, now in its eighth weekend of release, has generated a mighty $158 million to date. M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological thriller “Knock at the Cabin” has earned $23.4 million in its two weeks in theaters.

After a slow start to February, movie theater owners expect a boost in business in the weeks ahead as Disney’s latest Marvel adventure “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and MGM’s “Creed III” open on the big screen.

“As expected, this was a very slow weekend for theaters and with the emphasis on the big game and not the big screen,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst. “The good news is that the sidelining of theaters will be short-lived as the next ‘Ant-Man’ installment looks to a make a big impression and kick off a reinvigorated theatrical marketplace.”