NEW YORK (AP) — Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic “Elvis” rocked theaters with estimated weekend ticket sales of $30.5 million, but — in a box office rarity — “Elvis tied “Top Gun: Maverick,” which also grossed $30.5 million, for No. 1 in theaters.
The final numbers on Monday, once Sunday’s receipts are compiled, will determine which film ultimately won over the weekend. With a high degree of accuracy, studios can forecast Sunday sales based on Friday and Saturday activity, although the numbers often vary by a few hundred thousand dollars.
But for now, the unlikely pair of “Elvis” and “Maverick” are locked in a dance (if you prefer “Elvis”) or a standoff (if you prefer “Maverick”). The fact that it was so close was due to both a better-than-expected opening for “Elvis” and remarkably strong continued sales for “Top Gun: Maverick.” The “Top Gun” sequel hit $1 billion at the global box office in its fifth week of release.
“Elvis,” starring newcomer Austin Butler as Presley, entered the weekend with expectations closer to $25 million. Among recent musical biopics, a $30.5 million debut album puts the King ahead of Elton John’s beat (“Rocketman” launched with $25.7 million in 2019) but not in the same class as Freddie Mercury. (“Bohemian Rhapsody” opened with $51.1 million in 2018).
“I’m less concerned about who’s number one and who’s number two, and I’m more concerned that we’ve reached that big number given that that audience has been the slowest to get back into theaters. “, said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner. Brothers.
About 60% of the “Elvis” audience was over 35. Older audiences have been among the most hesitant to return to theaters during the pandemic, but that’s changing — in part, Goldstein noted, because of “Top Gun,” which brought fans back to the 1986 original.
“Elvis,” which cost around $85 million to make, was propelled by strong reviews (78% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), good word of mouth (an A-CinemaScore) and a glitzy premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. . It added $20 million overseas over the weekend.
“Elvis” ranks as Luhrmann’s second-best opener after 2013’s “The Great Gatsby” ($50.1 million). Luhrmann was about to start production in Australia when, at an indelible moment during the pandemic, star Tom Hanks tested positive for COVID-19.
“‘Elvis’ was a dicey proposition: the music is dated, the character isn’t directly familiar, and the lead actor hasn’t proven himself on the big screen,” wrote David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research in a newsletter. “But critics and the public are reacting. It’s Baz Luhrmann’s show, a show of music, dance and sex appeal — it’s a success.
Meanwhile, “Top Gun: Maverick” continues to soar. The Paramount Pictures film became the first release of 2022 to hit $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales, and the first starring Tom Cruise to do so.
In its fifth weekend of release, “Maverick” fell just 32% domestically to bring its total to $521.7 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters. It continues to climb in the record books, ranking 15th all-time in the country, without taking inflation into account. Internationally, the “Top Gun” sequel added another $44.5 million.
The ‘Elvis’/’Top Gun’ showdown – along with Blumhouse’s new horror version ‘The Black Phone’ and big remnants in Pixar’s ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ and ‘Lightyear’ – made one of the more competitive and busy, movie theater weekends in the age of the pandemic.
Most studios are celebrating again, although Disney’s “Lightyear” fell 65% in its second weekend. After opening softly last week, the “Toy Story” spin-off has grossed $17.7 million domestically, dropping to fifth place. “Lightyear,” which has grossed $152 million worldwide to date, will soon face more competition for families with the Friday release of “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”
The counterprogramming came from Universal Pictures’ “The Black Phone,” the supernatural thriller directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Ethan Hawke as a runaway killer. The Blumhouse production received strong reviews (84% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) for a better-than-expected $23.4 million launch.
After two weeks at the top spot, Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” raked in $26.4 million, slipping to third place. It has now surpassed $300 million domestically and grossed $746.7 million worldwide.
A much smaller scale film, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”, debuted to good sales in a limited release. The warmly-received stop-motion animated film, in which Jenny Slate voices a one-inch-tall mollusk with a googly eye, debuted with $169,606 across six screens, for a per-screen average of $28,267.
Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.
1. (Tie) “Elvis,” $30.5 million.
1. (Tie) “Top Gun: Maverick,” $30.5 million.
3. “Jurassic World: Dominion,” $26.4 million.
4. “Black Phone,” $23.4 million.
5. “Lightyear,” $17.7 million.
6. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” $1.7 million.
7. “Jugjugg Jeeyo”, $725,000.
8. “Everything everywhere at the same time”, $533,000.
9. “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” $513,000.
10. “The bad guys”, $440,000.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP