May 20, 2024

Paramount’s animated sequel “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” topped the box office in its debut, earning a solid $23 million from 3,989 North American locations over the weekend.

Those ticket sales were more than enough to rule over the three other new nationwide releases, which could be categorized as the good (Lionsgate’s gruesome “Saw X“), the meh (Disney and New Regency’s sci-fi thriller “The Creator“) and the ugly (Sony’s Game Stop stock-inspired “Dumb Money“).

“Saw X” took second place with $18 million, an impressive start for the 10th entry in the long-running horror series. It’s not the biggest debut of the bunch, which still belongs to 2006’s “Saw III” ($33 million), but it improved upon the two prior installments, 2021’s spinoff “Spiral” ($8.7 million) and 2017’s “Jigsaw” ($16.6 million). It cost just $13 million, so it’ll be profitable for its backers by the end of its theatrical run.

“The Creator,” Gareth Edwards and starring John David Washington as the leader of a war between humans and AI, landed in third place with $14 million, below expectations for the $80 million-budgeted movie. Initial ticket buyers were 69% male while 78% were over the age of 25. The movie’s saving grace will be the international box office, where it opened to $18.2 million — not including China, Japan and Korea.

All the way in seventh place, “Dumb Money” flopped with $3.5 million as the comedic drama expanded to 2,837 venues following two weeks in limited release. Some analysts suggest the torrential rainstorm that plagued New York City on Friday and forced some theaters to close for the day had a bigger impact on “Dumb Money” compared to this weekend’s other offerings.

“This story has particular interest in NYC. It’s about stock trading and Wall Street,” says David A. Gross, who runs who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “With the extreme weather slowing that market, these numbers are down.”

However, it’s worth noting the film made $1.3 million on Friday and $1.3 million on Saturday, when NYC-area theaters reopened. It added approximately $900K on Sunday. It also doesn’t help that the cast of famous faces, including Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Pete Davidson and America Ferrera, aren’t allowed to promote the movie, which chronicles the stranger-than-fiction  battle between Reddit investors and Wall Street tycoons over the GameStop stock, during the current SAG-AFTRA strike. After a quiet run in limited release, the R-rated “Dumb Money” has earned $7.3 million at the domestic box office. It cost $30 million, so any write-down won’t be catastrophic. But the disappointing turnout demonstrates the continued struggle of even well-reviewed movies aimed at adults.

“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” based on the popular Nickelodeon kids TV show and co-produced by Spin Master Entertainment, also cost $30 million. With decent reviews and strong audience scores, it almost doubled the debut of its inventively named predecessor, 2021’s “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” which opened to $13 million while landing simultaneously on Paramount+. The film also launched at the international box office with $23.1 million, bringing its global tally to $46.1 million.

“The ‘PAW Patrol’ movies are not in the league of the Disney, Pixar and Illumination juggernauts, but they’re not designed to be,” Gross says. “They cost a fraction of those giants.” Plus, any ticket sales will be dwarfed by the lucrative consumer products line. Since 2014, the franchise has earned $14 billion in global retail sales.

“The Nun II” took fourth place, adding $4.6 million in its fourth weekend of release. So far, the supernatural sequel has generated $76.7 million at the domestic box office and $231 million worldwide. It still has ways to go to match the original 2018’s “The Nun” with $117 million in North America and $366 million globally.

However, the follow-up film cost $38 million to produce and was basically the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary September at the box office. For now, movie theaters are anxiously awaiting the debut of Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” concert film, which promises to bring people back to cinemas en masse when it lands on Oct. 13.

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