‘The Bad Guys’ Topples ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ With $24 Million Debut

Universal’s kid-friendly caper “The Bad Guys” pulled off a heist for the ages, capturing the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office.

The animated comedy has collected $24 million from 4,009 North American theaters in its debut, enough to take the crown from “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” In its second weekend of release, the latest chapter in the “Harry Potter” prequel series plummeted to third place with $14 million, a troubling sign for the Warner Bros.’ Wizarding film franchise. After a steep 67% decline, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has generated $67 million to date.

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“The Bad Guys” may have towered over the competition, but it was not the only newcomer to movie theater marquees. “The Northman,” a blood-soaked Viking epic from director Robert Eggers, and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” a meta comedy in which Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, opened in theaters nationwide to varying results. With three original movies in wide release, this weekend indicates that Hollywood does, indeed, still have new ideas — but audiences aren’t always willing to make the trek to watch them in cinemas.

“The Bad Guys” carries a $70 million price tag, so although the Dreamworks Animation film has topped the box office, it may have to claw its way to profitability in its theatrical run. The international box office will be critical to getting the film into the black. Already, the movie has grossed $63 million overseas, bringing its global tally to $87.1 million.

It helps that in addition to strong reviews, audiences appear to be high on the film, which secured an “A” CinemaScore from ticket buyers. And, “The Bad Guys” will not have much competition from family audiences until Disney’s “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear” opens in June. Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson and Awkwafina lead the voice cast of “The Bad Guys,” which follows a crackerjack crew of animal outlaws as they attempt their most challenging con yet — becoming model citizens.

“’The Bad Guys’ is a family thrill ride with new characters and an exciting story that theatrical audiences will be embracing for weeks and months as we finish out spring and head into the summer,” says Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution.

“The Northman” opened in fourth place, generating $12 million from 3,865 locations. That’s a great result for an arthouse film, but alas, “The Northman” does not carry the budget of an arthouse film. The movie reportedly cost $90 million, though sources close to the production say the final number was closer to $70 million after factoring in tax incentives. And Focus Features, who split the cost with New Regency, did not skimp on promotional efforts. “The Northman” has posters with stars Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk and Willem Dafoe plastered in Times Square.

At the international box office, “The Northman” made $5 million from 41 foreign territories, boosting its overseas total to $11.5 million and its global tally to $23.5 million.

“Reviews are excellent, but with a budget of around $75 million, ‘The Northman’ will struggle to recover costs,” said David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research.

Never mind the massive price tag, which will make it almost impossible for “The Northman” to escape the red during its run in theaters. Focus Features called this weekend’s result “a success on every level.”

“We’re excited that a film so bold and daring is resonating with audiences around the world,” said Lisa Bunnell, president of domestic distribution for Focus Features. “It’s a towering artistic achievement and a win for us at the company. We have always believed in Robert Eggers’ singular vision as a groundbreaking filmmaker — and are thrilled to be on this ride with him.”

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” from Lionsgate, took the No. 5 spot with $7.1 million, a wobbly start given its reported $30 million budget. Directed by Tom Gormican, the wacky buddy comedy of sorts follows Cage, whose star is declining as a billionaire super fan (played by Pedro Pascal) offers him $1 million to attend a birthday party in the Maldives. When events take a turn, Cage teams up with the CIA and channels his most beloved movie characters to save his family from his biggest fan, who may be a dangerous arms dealer.

The movie has received great reviews, but “The Northman” and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” may have cannibalized each other’s ticket sales since both titles were targeting adult males. Men represented 68% of moviegoers for “The Northman” and 59% of moviegoers for “Massive Talent.” Comparatively, the family-centric “The Bad Guys” catered more to females (55% of its ticket buyers).

Despite stacked competition, Paramount’s family-friendly sequel “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” sped past “Fantastic Beasts 3” and others to land in second place with $15.2 million from 3,809 venues. After three weeks in theaters, the “Sonic” follow-up has generated a mighty $145.8 million. The film is less than $3 million away from surpassing its predecessor’s $148 million pre-pandemic domestic box office total, though 2020’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” likely would have enjoyed a longer run on the big screen without COVID-19 spoiling those plans.

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, A24’s genre mashup “Everything Everywhere All At Once” powered to another big weekend, adding $5.4 million from 2,133 screens to land in sixth place. In total, the indie film — starring Michelle Yeoh and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — has generated an impressive $26.9 million in North America.

At the specialty box office, Celine Sciamma’s fantasy drama “Petite Maman” opened in limited release with $45,000 from four theaters, averaging a strong $11,457 per location. Neon bought the well-reviewed movie following its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, reuniting the director with the indie studio that released her acclaimed drama “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

Also new to arthouse screens, “The Duke,” a dramatic heist comedy starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, earned $28,797 on four screens, with a per screen average of $7,199. At the Angelika Film Center, one of the few locations playing “The Duke,” Sony Pictures Classics launched an initiative called “Bring a Friend Back to the Movies.” A buy-one, get-one deal, in effect, opening weekend customers received a complimentary ticket to take a plus-one to see “The Duke.”

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