By The Atlanta Voice
DC and Warner Bros.’ long-in-the-works superhero movie “The Flash” opened to $55 million in its first three days in North American theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
Though a fair amount of money by normal standards, a sizable jump from DC’s last release, the “Shazam!” sequel, and enough for a first place start, it’s also muted by superhero standards where $100 million debut weekends are almost commonplace.
It was a crowded weekend at the multiplex overall. In addition to “The Flash” there was the new Pixar family film “Elemental” and the horror-comedy “The Blackening.” The only big win was Wes Anderson’s starry “Asteroid City” which earned $720,000 from just six theaters and the distinction of having the highest per-theater average ($132,211) since the start of the pandemic.
“The Flash” faced more complications than marketplace conditions. It has been in the headlines often over the past year, not because of the movie itself but because of its star Ezra Miller’s off-screen troubles, including arrests, erratic behavior and accusations of misconduct. Miller has apologized and said they are seeking mental health treatment. They also bowed out of participating in the normal publicity circuit, except for the premiere.
The studio’s leadership remained bullish on releasing their $200 million movie, however, confident in its quality and importance to future DC Studios storylines. The movie introduces the multiverse, which allowed for the return of Michael Keaton’s Batman in a movie that also had Ben Affleck’s Batman.
Going into the weekend analysts expected “The Flash” to earn at least $70 million in its first three days, playing in 4,234 locations domestically. Now, it’s projected to net out with $64 million in its first four, including Monday’s Juneteenth holiday.
Critics were mixed but more positive than not, with a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. AP’s Jocelyn Noveck wrote in her review that despite some “breezily clever and entertaining” moments, “the final act bogs down in what feels like an endless, generic CGI battle and a kitchen-sink resolution.”
Audiences polled for CinemaScore only gave the film a B, which has not historically been great news for word-of-mouth potential and longevity. But there is a bit of a gap in the schedule before the next major blockbuster comes in ” Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which opens on June 30. Next week’s biggest offering is the R-rated Jennifer Lawrence comedy ” No Hard Feelings ” and the nationwide expansion of “Asteroid City.”
Second place went to “Elemental” with an estimated $29.5 million from 4,035 locations in North America – a new low for Pixar’s three-day openings. Before, that title belonged to “The Good Dinosaur” and “Onward,” which both debuted to $39 million. “
”Elemental” was greeted positively by critics, with a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences (A CinemaScore). AP’s Jake Coyle wrote that it’s “probably in the lower half” of the Pixar cannon but “sincere and clever, with a splash of dazzle, ” it, “comes closer to rekindling some of the old Pixar magic than some recent entries. ” Including $15 million from 17 international territories, “Elemental” launched to $44.5 million globally.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was a very close third, in its third weekend, with $27.8 million. Sony is projecting that its domestic total will have reached $285 million through Monday.
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” dropped a steep 67% in its second weekend, adding $20 million to take fourth place. “The Little Mermaid” settled into fifth place with $11.6 million in its fourth weekend.
“The Blackening” was the other big release this weekend – a bit of counterprogramming to the bigger branded releases with an original horror-comedy about a group of friends, who are Black, who get together for a weekend away and find themselves on the run from a killer. Lionsgate and MRC acquired the $5 million movie from director Tim Story after it debuted to positive reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival. Released in 1,775 theaters, “The Blackening” made an estimated $6 million.
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