‘The Flash’ disappoints with $55 million debut, Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ fails with $29.5 million in Battle of Box Office Lightweights

“The Flash,” a superhero adventure starring Ezra Miller, emerged victorious over Pixar’s “Elemental” in a battle of lightweights at the box office.

This weekend’s two new releases were once expected to kick off the summer blockbuster season; instead, both completely missed the mark. “The Flash” stumbled with $55 million and “Elemental” only pulled in $29.5 million on their respective debuts. Both films fell short of already low expectations. Worse still, they were expensive efforts, costing $200 million to make and around $100 million to market, so they’re shaping up to be huge disappointments in their theatrical releases.

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In the lead up to “The Flash,” Warner Bros. worked hard to convince audiences that the movie is “one of the greatest superhero movies ever made,” according to new DC Studios co-head James Gunn. Directed by Andy Muschietti, the story picks up as Miller’s Barry Allen, aka The Flash, travels back in time to prevent the murder of his mother and inadvertently opens up the DC Multiverse. (Cameos abound!)

But a lukewarm “B” CinemaScore from the opening weekend crowds suggests that the masses of moviegoers weren’t entirely on board with the lavish praise bestowed on the film by the people who made it. Without positive audience scores or strong word-of-mouth, “The Flash” will struggle to bounce back in the weeks to come, especially as the summer season heats up with the release of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” on June 30, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” on July 12, and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” on July 21.

“That’s a low three-day opening for a superhero [film]says David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. “There have been similar openings that have reached great numbers,” he adds, referring to 2015’s “Ant-Man,” which opened at $57 million and closed with $519 million. dollars worldwide, as well as 2018’s “Aquaman,” which debuted at $67.4 million. and ended at $1.15 billion worldwide. “But we don’t see that here.”

“The Flash” also stumbled at the international box office with $75 million from 78 markets, bringing its worldwide total to $139 million. Unless its box office fortunes rebound, ‘The Flash’ appears to be closing in on Dwayne Johnson’s $200 million-budget ‘Black Adam’, which opened last year to $67 million and is nowhere to be seen. failed to hit $400 million worldwide, ultimately losing money in its theatrical run.

Analysts believe that several factors, including lukewarm reactions from audiences, were responsible for the film’s initial low turnout. Another hurdle is that “The Flash” landed on the big screen without a traditional promo. That’s because Miller has become a controversial figure in recent years due to legal issues and assault allegations. The actor, who has apologized for his past erratic behavior and is undergoing treatment for “complex mental health issues,” made a rare public appearance at the premiere of “The Flash” on Monday, but did not not communicated with the press or other publicity efforts that would be standard for a mast of this scale.

Additionally, “The Flash” is the second of four DC movies to open in 2023 before studio new overlords Gunn and Peter Safran take the comic book universe in a whole new direction. There remains “The Flash” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”, one of the biggest superhero misfires in recent memory, hanging in the balance. care about an interconnected universe that will soon be scrapped and rebooted in favor of different Spandex-clad heroes.”Blue Beetle,” starring Xolo Maridueña as a boy who bonds with an alien symbiote, opens August 18 “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is slated for December 20.

“Elemental,” an animated adventure about opposites attracting, added $15 million at the international box office for a worldwide total of $44.5 million. Unlike “The Flash,” “Elemental” was embraced by its audiences, who awarded the film an “A” CinemaScore. So there’s a chance that ticket sales will pick up even slightly in the coming weeks, especially since there isn’t much competition from family movies on the horizon.

But there’s no sugar coating for the debut of “Elemental,” which landed by far the worst start in modern history for Pixar, falling below some of its most forgettable attempts like “The 2015’s Good Dinosaur” ($39 million) and 2020’s “Onward” ($39 million). The animation empire behind ‘Toy Story’, ‘Up’ and ‘Ratatouille’ has been unable to bounce back from the pandemic, as several of its titles were sent straight to Disney+ and audiences family has been trained to wait for these movies at home.

It’s been a tough market for movies with original stories like “Elemental,” which revolves around the relationship between the two seemingly different elements of fire and water. Brand recognition has played an important role in the success of recent family films, such as “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”.

“‘Elemental’ is not based on established intellectual property,” notes Gross. “Of recent anime titles, this is clearly the most difficult to open.”

Also this weekend, Lionsgate’s horror satire “The Blackening” opened in sixth place after earning $6 million on its debut. Directed by Tim Story, the film pokes fun at the common horror trope that black characters are often the first to die. It follows a group of black friends who gather in a remote cabin to celebrate June 19th. The film only cost $5 million.

Elsewhere at the box office, Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse” landed in third place, earning $27.8 million in its third weekend of release. The superhero sequel is already a big box office winner with $280 million in North America and $489.3 million worldwide. A third entry is planned for 2024.

In fourth place, Paramount’s “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” added $20 million as ticket sales plummeted 67% on its second outing. Still, the tentpole managed to cross $100 million at the domestic box office with $103 million to date. With its $200 million budget, the studio needs the seventh installment of “Transformers” to resonate at the international box office to justify that hefty price tag. Over the weekend, “Rise of the Beasts” grossed $37.2 million across 68 markets, bringing its international total to $174.3 million.

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” rounded out the top five with $11.6 million in its fourth weekend in theaters. The live-action remake has amassed $253 million in North America and $466 million to date, which would have been a great result…if the film hadn’t cost $250 million to produce. At this rate, “The Little Mermaid” is struggling to break even on its theatrical release.

In limited release, Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City,” starring Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Hawke, Bryan Cranston and dozens of other Anderson regulars and newcomers, raked in $790,000 from six theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Those ticket sales translate to $132,211 per theater, ranking as the best average since 2016’s “La La Land” ($176,220 per theater).

For “Asteroid City,” which takes place as a cosmic event disrupts a fictional desert city, the biggest hurdle will come when the film expands next weekend to 1,500 theaters. It was a huge challenge for other acclaimed indies, like “Tár”, “Triangle of Sadness” and “Beau Is Afraid”, all of which also scored notable arthouse openings, but didn’t ultimately failed to translate this interest to the general public.

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