This weekend’s box office was the worst Easter weekend the industry has seen in nearly 15 years. With few high profile film releases, the weekend box office failed to perform as well as holiday weekends typically do.
The biggest release this past week was Warner Bros. and New Line’s The Curse of La Llorona, the newest spin-off installment in the Conjuring horror franchise. It released alongside the faith-based family film Breakthrough and the Ed Helms-narrated nature documentary Penguins, both coming from Disney-owned studios.
According to Variety, The Curse of La Llorona, Breakthrough, and Penguins all failed to bring in massive revenue. Together with Shazam! and Captain Marvel, those three films garnered around $112 million at the domestic box office over the holiday weekend. That is the lowest amount the holiday has brought in since 2005. With films like Dumbo and Hellboy both underperforming and getting beaten out by the older Captain Marvel, the box office did not experience the kind of uptick in sales that holidays normally ensure. The low numbers are in keeping with 2019’s 17 percent overall decline in ticket sales when compared to 2018.
However, the while the box office was disappointing as a whole, individual films were profitable. Despite its seemingly low gross and less-than-positive reviews, The Curse of La Llorona is a financial success. The spin-off film has already earned roughly $56.5 against a $9 million budget. Over half of that amount came from overseas audiences. Breakthrough is similarly being lauded as a successful film, already earning $14 million domestically against its $14 million budget. As the first film to be released through 20th Century Fox since it was acquired by Disney, its $20.5 million gross is a positive start that the new owners hope will grow due to strong reviews.
There are several reasons for the decline in overall sales for the weekend. Bad marketing, bad reviews, and general disinterest all likely contributed to a weak Easter audience turnout. Furthermore, each of last week’s three major wide releases were films in niche genres: an R-rated horror film, a Christian faith-based film, and a nature documentary. Only one of those, the faith-based Breakthrough, was particularly suited to do well over Easter.
Of course, this Easter weekend’s box office is different from past ones because of one colossal factor: Avengers: Endgame. The Disney/Marvel cinematic behemoth releases next week and, to no one’s surprise, is already breaking records in ticket sales due to being one of the most anticipated films in history. Audiences may have sat out the holiday to be ready for the event, an event 21 films in the making. Not only is Avengers: Endgame expected to be the most successful of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by a significant margin, but many industry insiders are confident the superhero epic will go a long way toward mitigating this year’s box office losses. Studios were aware that Avengers: Endgame was what most film-goers were going to spend their time and money on, and few seemed willing to put up big budget films against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
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