Trains and planes send Americans to the theater

Jake Coyle
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Brad Pitt action film “Bullet Train” led all movies in ticket sales for a second straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, while a quiet spell in theaters and incredible staying power allowed “Top Gun: Maverick” to rocket back into third place in its 12th week of release.

After launching the previous weekend with about $30 million at the box office, “Bullet Train” pulled in $13.4 million in its second go-around. David Leitch’s assassin-crowded film, made for $90 million, has grossed $54.4 million in two weeks for Sony Pictures. Globally, “Bullet Train” has grossed $114.5 million.

Three new films went into wide release but none cracked the top five films. The slowdown — an expected but still acute late-summer downturn in big releases — gave plenty of airspace for the year’s biggest movie, “Maverick,” to make another fly-by in theaters.

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Aaron Taylor-Johnson, left, and Brad Pitt in a scene from "Bullet Train." (Scott Garfield/Sony Pictures via AP)

Staying power: Nearly three months after opening in May, Paramount Pictures put the “Top Gun” sequel back on a number of large-format screens and increased its theater count from 2,760 to 3,181. It came away with $7.2 million, bringing its cumulative total to $673.8 million. Paramount’s biggest smash ever, “Maverick” sits at seventh all-time in domestic box office, not accounting for inflation, right above “Titanic” and just below “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The uncommonly long run for “Top Gun: Maverick” is even rarer at a time when studios have shrunk theatrical windows, typically sending movies to streaming services after about 45 days in theaters.

“Top Gun: Maverick” was very narrowly edged for second place by Warner Bros.’ “DC League of Super-Pets.” Warner Bros. estimated Sunday that its animated movie took in $7.17 million in its third week of release, just a nose above the $7.15 million for “Maverick.” Final figures Monday should break the near-tie.

But while “Top Gun: Maverick” has been a boon to theaters recovering from the pandemic, the thinly scheduled dog days of August — and potentially a chunk of September — will pose a test to the industry. This weekend, the biggest new film in nationwide theaters was A24’s “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a Gen Z horror comedy that expanded to 1,269 locations after last week’s opening in limited release. It came in eighth with $3.3 million.

Lionsgate’s “The Fall,” about two friends stranded atop a 2,000-foot radio tower, debuted with $2.5 million. Diane Keaton’s body-swap comedy “Mack & Rita” opened with just $1 million in ticket sales for Gravitas Ventures.

In overall sales it was the lowest ticket-selling weekend of the summer. With few new wide releases on tap — including two Idris Elba titles: the safari thriller “Beast” (Aug. 19) and George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing” (Aug. 26) — moviegoing is likely to slow further in the coming weeks.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Ticket sales

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Bullet Train,” $13.4 million.

2. “DC League of Super-Pets,” $7.2 million

3. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $7.2 million.

4. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” $5.3 million.

5. “Nope,” $5.3 million.

6. “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” $4.9 million.

7. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” $4 million.

8. “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” $3.3 million.

9. “Elvis,” $2.6 million.

10. “Fall,” $2.5 million.