Sure, the movie biz isn’t quite as lively as it used to be. But as movie theaters slowly pry their doors back open, the cinematic box office is showing signs of a pulse.
The New Mutants, a kinda-sorta X-Men flick that feels, frankly, more like a horror movie, scored the highest box-office take in the COVID-era, collecting $7 million from about 2,400 theaters in North America. That’s nearly $3 million more than Russell Crowe’s actioner Unhinged earned the week before. We take that as a sign that more people are slowly easing back into movie theaters: It couldn’t be that the film’s actual quality (32% thus far on Rotten Tomatoes, and we didn’t like it much, either) drew many folks in.
Unhinged finished second with $2.6 million, while The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run—playing only in Canada at the moment—squeezed itself in to third place.
The Personal History of David Copperfield—one of the best movies I’ve seen during the coronavirus epidemic—didn’t draw much of an audience. Despite garnering a semi-wide release, David Copperfield earned just $520,000 and may be on its way to debtor’s prison. Poor Master Davy; you deserved better.
Words on the Bathroom Walls wrapped up the top five with a $453,000 second-week performance.
It should be noted that The New Mutants’ “win” this week comes with a couple of big caveats.
First, Tenet. Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated movie hasn’t hit theaters in the United States just yet, but it has opened in 40 other countries, and it has garnered $53 million already. That means that, if we’re looking at international figures, Tenet is the biggest movie around right now. It’ll officially open stateside this Friday (with some theaters offering early screenings as soon as today), and it’ll be the best indicator yet as to how comfortable people are with going to the movies again.
Second, Bill & Ted Face the Music, one of several really family-friendly flicks available right now. While Box Office Mojo isn’t yet reporting theatrical grosses for the long-awaited Bill & Ted sequel, Box Office Report believes the film might’ve earned a cool $1.1 million in the handful of theaters in which it played. But that accounts for just a sliver of its audience, because most likely flocked to watch the thing on video. It’s the No. 1 movie on Amazon, FandangoNow and Apple. And on the latter service, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Triple Feature—a bundle of all three Bill & Ted movies—is ranked No. 2.
Finally, in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s unexpected and untimely death, many movie viewers decided to honor the actor’s memory by watching some of his most memorable movies. 42, where Boseman played the legendary Jackie Robinson, was third on Apple’s charts. (That film could be a solid conversation starter for families of tweens and teens who are wanting to talk more about what racism in our country has looked like in the past, by the way. And Emily Clark offers plenty of other suggested viewing options here.) Meanwhile, the Marvel movie Black Panther landing at No. 5. On Amazon, Black Panther was the service’s second most popular film. The superhero movie also was aired, commercial free, on ABC Sunday night.
Oh, and one last thing: If you do happen to watch (or re-watch) Black Panther again, Plugged In actually put together a sort of bible-based viewers’ guide about the movie–part of something we’ve called Movie Nights. You can check it out here.