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Box Office: Worst Super Bowl Weekend in Decades Outside of COVID, ‘Argylle’ Ekes Out $6.5M Lead

The Super Bowl sacked the domestic box office this weekend as revenue fell to historic lows due to the weekend-long frenzy over Sunday’s showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas, and an ongoing winter slowdown in major Hollywood studio titles.

Combined ticket sales clocked in at an estimated $40 million, the worst showing for Super Bowl weekend in more than three decades outside of 2021, when many theaters were still closed because of the COVID-19 crisis, according to Comscore. Revenue in 2021 was $7.7 million.

The last time revenue was lower was several instances in the mid- to late -’80s, per Comscore.

There is an upside: Hollywood studios aren’t obsessing too much about weekend grosses. Instead, many are getting ready to drop splashy — and pricey — new spots for their movies.

Back to the the box office. This year, Matthew Vaughn‘s big budget bust, Argylle, placed No. 1 over Super Bowl weekend with a meek $6.5 million, likewise one of the lowest grosses for the frame after tumbling 63 percent from its opening a weekend ago. The film’s domestic total is $28.1 million, according to Apple Original Films and distribution partner Universal.

Focus Features’ horror-comedy Lisa Frankenstein opened in second place with $3.8 million. Focus opted to launch the specialty pic nationwide, versus a platform release, in hopes of serving as counterprogramming for females not too caught up in Super Bowl mania. One new twist this year, however: Taylor Swift is responsible for a surge in football viewership among girls and women (her boyfriend is Kansas City’s tight end Travis Kelce, and she’s expected at Sunday’s game).

“This year unfortunately marks a low ebb for the football-centric weekend and with only one new wide release film hitting theaters and a lack of momentum in the marketplace the industry will now have to look toward the post-game era to get back on track,” says Comscore chief box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Lisa Frankenstein, a twist on the classic horror tale that sees a young woman cobble together a corpse and bring him to life, received a B Cinemascore. More than 70 percent of ticket buyers, many of them female, were under the age of 35.

Holdovers The Beekeeper, Wonka and Migration rounded out the top five. At the specialty box office, Searchlight’s multi-Oscar contender Poor Things crossed the $80 million mark globally, including $30.3 domestically.

Historically, there is money to be made at the box office despite the Super Bowl if a studio wants to risk getting tackled. Top Super Bowl openings over the years have included Hannah Montana/Miley Cryus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert, which launched to a record $31 million in 2008, not adjusted for inflation. Overall revenue hit $128 million that weekend, a record that still holds. Since 2006, or 17 years, revenue has crossed $100 million only a handful of time.

In 2022 and 2023, Super Bowl weekend came in at around $54 million, led by Death on the Nile and Magic Mike’s Last Dance (again, counterprogramming).

Elsewhere, Amazon MGM Studios’ The Beekeeper placed No. 3 another $3.5 million for a domestic tally of $54.7 million, followed by Fathom’s faith-based sensation The Chosen: Season 4 Episodes 1-3 with $3.2 million in its second weekend and for a total of $6 million and Warner Bros.’ Wonka — the Christmas gift that keeps on giving — with $3.1 million for a domestic tally of $205 million.

Fathom is carrying The Chosen exclusively in theaters prior to its digital debut, and will do the same with episodes 4-6 and 7-8 over the course of the next four weeks (each segment is playing for two weeks).

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