LOS ANGELES: In an unusually close box office battle, "Elvis and "Top Gun: Maverick" have tied for first place in North America, with each film bringing in $30.5 million over the weekend.
"Elvis" and "Top Gun: Maverick" were locked in a close battle all weekend as the King of Rock and Roll took the No. 1 spot on Friday and dropped to second place on Saturday. The final results will be tallied on Monday.
Regardless of which film comes out on top, it's a strong result for both. For "Elvis," a $30 million debut is impressive for a movie catering to older audiences. For "Maverick," it's almost unheard of for a movie to generate $30 million in its fifth weekend of release.
Overall, it's an encouraging weekend at the box office as five movies are putting up sizable results. Four -- "Elvis" and fellow newcomer Universal's Blumhouse thriller "The Black Phone," as well as holdovers "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Jurassic World Dominion" each grossed $20 million or more, while a fifth, Disney's Pixar film "Lightyear," came close with $17 million.
Moreover, those ticket sales wouldn't be far off from pre-COVID projections. Those healthy box office returns come as audiences have reportedly started to feel safer than ever going to their local cinema. According to a study by the National Research Group, 88% of moviegoers are "very or somewhat comfortable" going to the movies -- marking a new all-time high. Around a year ago, that percentage was closer to 59%.
Baz Luhrmann directed "Elvis," a kaleidoscopic take on the 20th century icon. Austin Butler stars as the king of rock and roll in "Elvis," which chronicles the performers meteoric rise to fame through the eyes of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks). Audiences dug the film, awarding it an "A-" CinemaScore.
David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, called "Elvis" a "risky proposition," one that seems like it will pay off.
"The music is dated, the character is not directly familiar, and the lead actor is unproven on the big screen. But critics and audiences are responding," Gross said. "This is the Baz Luhrmann show, a music, dance and sex appeal spectacular -- it's a hit."
The nostalgia-fueled sequel to 1986's "Top Gun" has benefitted greatly from stellar word-of-mouth, which has resulted in minuscule week-to-week drops. Now in its fifth weekend of release, "Maverick" added $30.5 million from 3,948 venues between Friday and Sunday, pushing its domestic total to $521 million. It was already the highest-grossing movie of the year in the U.S. and Canada, but after this weekend, it's now the highest grossing movie at the global box office as well with $1.006 billion to date. Notably, it's the first movie of the year and only the second in COVID times (following Sony's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" with $1.9 billion) to fly past the $1 billion mark.
After two weekends in first place, "Jurassic World Dominion" slid to the No. 3 spot with $26.4 million from 4,233 North American locations. Those ticket sales have pushed the dino-centric tentpole past $300 million at the domestic box office. With $443.8 million at the international box office, "Dominion" has stomped to $746.6 million globally and will imminently cross the $750 million mark.
"The Black Phone" opened in fourth place with $23.3 million from 3,150 North American cinemas. Overseas, the movie collected $13.4 million from 45 territories, taking its returns to $35.8 million globally.
The horror movie cost only $18 million to produce, putting "The Black Phone" on a glide path to profitability. Scott Derrickson directed "The Black Phone," which stars Ethan Hawke as a masked serial killer who kidnaps and torments a teenage boy. Moviegoers and critics have responded enthusiastically, giving the film a "B+" CinemaScore and 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Franchise Entertainment Research's Gross says, " By keeping costs low, including efficient, targeted marketing, Blumhouse rarely misses. He adds, "'The Black Phone' is the kind of film that streamers have not been able to make -- high-profile, exciting, profitable on its own terms, and cheap."
In fifth place, Disney's "Lightyear" earned $17.7 million from 4,255 venues, a steep 65% decline from its opening. The spinoff story, set in Pixar's "Toy Story" universe, has generated $88 million in North America to date. Overseas, "Lightyear" collected $19.3 million from 44 markets, bringing its international tally to $63.6 million and its global total to $152.4 million.