August has been a fun month at the box office. Greta Gerwig's Barbie dominated the early weeks on the road to making a billion dollars worldwide, but competition has been fighting for the #1 spot in the Top 10 for the last two weekends. Last Sunday, it was Angel Manuel Soto's Blue Beetle that took away Margot Robbie's box office crown, and now it's the true story of Jann Mardenborough that has accomplished the feat, as Neill Blomkamp's Gran Turismo is the new number one movie in America.
Check out the final domestic Top 10 of Summer 2023 below, and join me after for analysis.
Gran Turismo Is In First Place As The Checkered Flag Gets Waved, And It's Off To A Pretty Ok Start
Unlike some of the other #1 films to hit theaters this summer (like James Mangold's Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny and Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1), Gran Turismo is not a blockbuster that, by modern Hollywood standards, cost a whole lot of money to produce. The feature, which qualifies as both a video game movie and a biopic, was produced for a modest $60 million, according to Deadline. That in mind, one can say that the theatrical release is off to a middling start, as it doesn't appear that domestic ticket sales alone are going to make it a winner – but factoring worldwide numbers, it's off to a pretty ok start.
A three day start in the United States and Canada earning $17.3 million means the film just had only the 28th biggest opening weekend of the year – but it's earnings are certainly padded by its performance abroad. Thanks to the $36.5 million that has come in from overseas, Gran Turismo is presently sitting with $53.8 million in the bank worldwide (according to The Numbers). It still has a bit of a distance to go before it becomes profitable on paper (publicity and marketing costs aren't accounted for in the aforementioned $60 million, for example), but it appears that the movie will ultimately have a positive box office legacy.
After originally being scheduled to hit theaters in mid-August and being slightly delayed because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, Gran Turismo has worked to try and build up buzz in the last few weeks. CinemaBlend critic Mike Reyes gave the film a four-star review when embargoes were lifted earlier this month, and that reaction has fit with the majority consensus. It has a 60 percent "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes (paired with a 98 percent audience score) and CinemaScore surveys delivered an "A" grade. One can imagine Sony being disappointed that positive word of mouth didn't lead to a bigger opening weekend splash, but it could end up giving the film some strong legs as we move into September.
One of the bigger problems with Gran Turismo's last minute release date change, however, is the fact that the studio now finds itself in a position where it's going to be competing with itself. Much like how Warner Bros. saw a collision of blockbusters last weekend when Barbie and Blue Beetle squared off, Sony has Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer 3 arriving in wide release on Friday. Obviously the two films are very, very different, but both titles are looking to attract the same demographic.
Hoping for Gran Turismo to set sail on a hype wave may end up resulting in a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul – but we'll just have to wait and see what happens when the numbers come in next Sunday.
Blue Beetle Slips To Third Place, But With A Strong Weekend-To-Weekend Drop
For the most part, box office numbers have been down for superhero blockbusters all year, and one of the most problematic trends as been weekend-to-weekend drops following splashy debuts. Peyton Reed's Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania fell a stunning 70 percent. David F. Sandberg's Shazam! Fury Of The Gods dipped a rough 69 percent. Andy Muschietti's The Flash fell off 72 percent. It's been hard to watch for comic book movie fans... but at the very least, Blue Beetle isn't a part of that phenomenon.
As noted in my box office column last week, Blue Beetle didn't have a terribly strong opening (bringing in just $25 million), but it's weekend-to-weekend numbers are strong. The $12.8 million it's made in the last three days represents a 49 percent dip, and that's pretty damn good. It's a suggestion that people saw it, liked it, and told their friends about it following its first Friday-to-Sunday and there is a diminished "I'll wait to catch it on streaming" audience.
Blue Beetle still has a long way to go before it's considered a hit by modern blockbuster standards, and it still has to make a lot more to justify its $104 million budget (at present, it's made $81.8 million worldwide), but it has underdog vibes and could be a success hanging around the back end of the Top 10 through the next month.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer Hits $300 Million Domestically
Barbie has certainly dominated headlines more than Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer since the two movies were released during the same weekend in late July, but the latter's success is not to be overlooked. The R-rated, three-hour-long biopic about the creation of the atom bomb is a blockbuster by any metric, and this weekend it hit the milestone of earning $300 million domestically.
Oppenheimer is just the fifth movies of 2023 to hit that figure, with the previous film to do it being Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, and Kemp Powers's Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Obviously Barbie is the biggest title to be reeleased in the United States and Canada this year ($594.8 million so far), but the special club also includes Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic's The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($574.5 million) and James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 ($359 million).
Will The Equalizer 3 perhaps end up on that list as well? It's doubtful, but we'll have a much better idea when the Denzel Washington-led actioner arrives in theaters on Friday. Head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday for the latest edition of our weekend box office column, and check out our 2023 Movie Release Calendar to discover all of the films set to be released between now and the end of the year.