'Barbarian' is top film amid late-summer box office doldrums
LOS ANGELES — The horror film "Barbarian" won the weekend by bringing in $10 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, as the late-summer doldrums at the box office continued.
Director Zach Cregger's debut from Disney's 20th Century Studios premiered at San Diego Comic-Con in July and opened Friday on 2,340 screens.
"Barbarian" tells the story of a young woman (Georgina Campbell) who finds her Airbnb-rented house weirdly occupied by a stranger (Bill Skarsgård) in a half-ruined section of Detroit. It goes on to subvert several horror conventions.
The hardly head-turning numbers were expected in a nearly always slow September, with the bigger movies of fall and the holiday season many weeks away. "Barbarian" nearly earned back its $10.5 million budget in its first weekend, and accounted for nearly a quarter of the entirety of theatrical earnings.
"In a weekend where the overall box office is quite low, the top number of $10 million is a really solid number for this marketplace," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore. "Horror movies are always an accountant's dream, and this is why."
Coming in a distant second, but playing on just 810 screens, was "Brahmāstra: Part One: Shiva," an Indian, Hindi-language fantasy epic from Star Studios, another subsidiary of Disney.
The film written and directed by Ayan Mukerji, about a DJ named Shiva who discovers a connection with the element of fire and an ability to awaken a supernatural super-powerful weapon, earned $4.4 million in its first weekend in North America.
Long-running Hollywood fare, "Bullet Train" and "Top Gun: Maverick," occupied the three and four spots.
"Bullet Train" has brought in $92.5 million in six weeks and "Top Gun: Maverick" has earned $705.7 million in 16 weeks. It now stands as the fifth highest-grossing domestic film of all time, just behind "Avatar" and just ahead of "Black Panther," and is the biggest North American earner ever that is not part of a sci-fi or superhero franchise.
"This movie is putting down superhero numbers," Dergarabedian said.
More quiet weeks likely lie ahead before a surge of expected big earners, including "Halloween Ends" and "Black Adam," arrive in October.
Soon after that, the sequel " Black Panther: Wakanda Forever " kicks off the holiday box office season and an even bigger round of expectations.