Paramount Pictures’ “Smile” enjoyed an awfully good domestic box office debut this weekend, opening in first place with $22 million, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.
Hitting the high end of box office expectations, the horror flick is the first title to launch with more than $20 million since Brad Pitt’s “Bullet Train” opened for $30 million the first weekend of August. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ romantic comedy “Bros” underperformed in North American markets this weekend, debuting in fourth place with $4.8 million.
Rounding out the top five for this cycle are Warner Bros.’ “Don’t Worry Darling,” which grossed $7.3 million in its second weekend with a steep 62% drop and a $32.8 million North American cumulative; “The Woman King,” which took in $7 million in its third weekend (down 36%) for a North American cumulative of $46.7 million; and 20th Century Studio’s re-release of 2009’s “Avatar,” which grossed $4.7 million during its second weekend (down 55%) for a North American total of $18.6 million.
Written and directed by Parker Finn, “Smile” stars Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) as a therapist who catches a sinister and fatal curse from one of her patients. The cast of “Smile” also includes Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Rob Morgan and Kal Penn.
The terrifying film earned a solid 75% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and a B-least lackluster rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore. “Smile,” which performed particularly well among moviegoers ages 18 to 34, also marks the sixth no. 1 this year, following previous blockbusters like “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” “The Lost City” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“Writer-director Parker Finn’s feature debut, ‘Smile,’ has the tiniest of premises based on a long list of horror movie trends and tropes, from the historical to the contemporary,” writes film critic Katie Walsh. for the Los Angeles Times.
“But Finn fleshes it out with breakneck cinematography from Charlie Sarroff, a creepily effective score from Cristóbal Tapia de Veer, and an incredibly edgy lead performance from Sosie Bacon. Oh, and jump scares, lots of jump scares.”
Directed by Nicholas Stoller, “Bros” stars Billy Eichner as a popular podcast host who falls for a handsome estate attorney (Luke Macfarlane). Promoted by Universal and heavily marketed by Eichner as the first gay romantic comedy to be distributed by a major movie studio, “Bros” received a fresh 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a big A rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore.
“’Bros’, which has little use for straight actors (or tragedy), stands as a significant corrective,” writes film critic Justin Chang for The Times.
“While it’s not the only standout gay rom-com to emerge in recent months (like Hulu’s ‘Fire Island,’ whose Bowen Yang appears here as a millionaire nobleman from Provincetown), it does have the remarkable precedent of a major studio of a fully LGBTQ director. cast, albeit one whose racial and sexual diversity underpins a love story between two white, cisgender, gay men, something the film acknowledges with a wink and a wince.”
Still, the highly anticipated film posted the third-lowest opening of the year among titles released in more than 3,000 theaters. (Behind only Universal’s action thriller “The 355,” which opened in January for $4.6 million, and the studio’s reboot of “Firestarter,” which opened for $3.8 million in theaters tonight with its streaming premiere on Peacock).
On Sunday, Eichner reacted to disappointing box office results. tweeting, “This is the world we live in, unfortunately. Even with glowing reviews, great Rotten Tomatoes scores, an A CinemaScore, etc., straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for Bros. And that’s disappointing, but it is what it is.”
“Last night I snuck in and sat in the back of a sold out theater to play BROS in LA,” he added. “The audience howled with laughter from start to finish, burst into applause at the end, and some wiped tears as they walked out. It was really magical. In fact. I am SO proud of this movie.
“Everyone who is NOT homophobic should go see BROS tonight! You’ll have so much fun! And it *is* special and exceptionally powerful to see this particular story on a big screen, especially for queer people who don’t get this opportunity often.”
It’s also worth noting that Sony Pictures’ aforementioned “Bullet Train” officially crossed the $100 million mark during its ninth weekend in North American theaters; while Sarigama Cinemas’ historical epic “Ponniyin Selvan: Part One” opened in sixth place with $4.1 million from 500 locations, achieving the highest average per screen of the top 10.
Next weekend, Disney’s star-studded comedy-drama “Amsterdam” and Sony Pictures’ family film “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” will be released on a grand scale.