With ‘Dragon Ball’ #1 at $21 Million, Anime Is a Box-Office Hero

“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” (Crunchyroll) overperformed expectations at $21 million while “Beast” (Universal) at $11.6 million arrived slightly above its anticipated results. That’s modest good news after a week in which reports that Cineworld, the #2 exhibitor worldwide, is likely to invoke bankruptcy procedures (while theaters remain open).

This mid-August weekend usually sees bigger openings. In the five years between 2015-2019, six titles debuted above $21 million. Last year, in a season of still-recovering grosses, “Free Guy” opened to $28 million.

“Super Hero” in 3,007 theaters is by far the widest-ever domestic Japanese anime release. The Toei Animation film fell a little short of “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” last year, which played at a little more than half as many theaters to open at $21.2 million. That franchise for anime fans has greater appeal, as shown by its comparative performance in Japan. “Mugen” grossed $292 million there, in a country with about a third of the U.S./Canada population. “Super Hero” only did $18 million in Japan, $2 million less than its domestic opening weekend.

That stateside performance is impressive. Anime is proving to be a legitimate source of theatrical wide release. Theaters need innovation and growth curves like this.


Universal Pictures

“Beast” at #2 is another of Universal’s steady supply of non-franchise films. Combined with franchises like “Jurassic World” and “Minions,”the studio averages a new release every three weeks, far ahead of their competitors. The $36 million-budgeted African-set, humans-as-prey-for-lions film has taken in about $32 million worldwide so far. With more markets to come, additional domestic revenue, and likely PVOD play after three weekends,, this could turn a profit. It’s not a strong opening, but that extra $11 million makes a difference for theaters.

“Orphan: First Kill” (Paramount) was the other studio release, although not wide. Its $1.675 million take in only 498 theaters (good enough for #11) is notable because the film also streamed on Paramount Plus. Its $3,363 per-theater average was boosted by its presence in primarily better-grossing theaters. Still, it shows again that the horror audience is less drawn to streaming and is willing to seek out the shared theater experience for scary movies.

Paramount spent very little to get this gross. A 3,000+ theater run without same-day streaming would demand a much higher marketing expense. Still, theaters must be gritting their teeth at another that got away.

Even with two new entries, holdovers improved their showings. Only “Bullet Train” (Sony), #3, fell more than 34 percent, to 40 percent. Five other films in the top 10 lost only a quarter or less of last weekend’s take.

Best again is “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount), only 17 percent down, still #4, and on the cusp of  $700 million. It becomes available on PVOD (not streaming) Tuesday, but those platforms likely only have minor impact.

The weekend’s $76 million total is 63 percent of the similar 2019 weekend. That’s an improvement from last week’s horrific 48 percent, and improves the ongoing four-week rolling comparison to 58 percent. That number explains why a major circuit like Cineworld faces trouble.

“The Territory”


Entries from other specialized companies were mostly unreported this weekend, including all but one limited release from each of the past two weeks. A24 has “Bodies Bodies Bodies” at #10, though its gross dropped 23 percent while the theater count doubled to 2,541. It has taken in $7.3 million so far, and the wide release has given it enough presence to make home interest more substantial. “The Territory” (National Geographic) opened in seven theaters to $26,484, while “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions) dropped 43 percent its second weekend in 483  theaters, over $1.4 million so far.

The Top 10

1. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Crunchyroll) NEW – Metacritic: 65

$20,107,000 in 3,007 theaters; PTA (per theater average) $6,662; Cumulative: $20,107,000

2. Beast (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 54; Est. budget: $36 million

$11,570,000 in 3,743 theaters; PTA (per theater average) $3,091; Cumulative: $11,570,000

3. Bullet Train (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$8,000,000 (-40%) in 3,781 theaters (-576); PTA: $2,116; Cumulative: $68,985,000

4. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 13; Last weekend #2

$5,850,000 (-17%) in 2,969 (-212) theaters; PTA: $1,970; Cumulative: $683,375,000

5. DC League of Super-Pets (WBD) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$5,775,000 (-18%) in 3,537 (-266)  theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $

6. Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #5

$4,031,000 (-25%) in 2,755 (-420) theaters; PTA: $1,463; Cumulative: $332,113,000

7. Nope (Universal)  Week 5; Last weekend #4

$3,550,000 (-34%) in 2,381 (-379) theaters; PTA: $1,491; Cumulative: $113,761,000

8. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) Week 8; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$3,520,000 (-30%) in 2,654 (-414) theaters; PTA: $1,326; Cumulative: $350,037,000

9. Where the Crawdads Sing (Sony) Week 6; Last weekend #7

$3,150,000 (-21%) in 2,608 (-308) theaters; PTA: $1,208; Cumulative: $77,725,000

10. Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) Week 3; Last weekend #8

$2,412,000 (-23%) in 2,541 (+1,251) theaters; PTA: $949; Cumulative: $7,439,000



Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Orphan: First Kill (Paramount) NEW – Metacritic: 52; also streaming on Paramount Plus

$1,675,000 in theaters; PTA: $3,363

The Territory (National Geographic) NEW – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Sundance, Seattle 2022

$26,484 in 7 theaters; PTA: $3,308

Laal Singh Chaddha (Paramount) Week 2

$530,000 in 517 (+1)  theaters; PTA: $1,025; Cumulative: $2,960,000

Emily the Criminal (Roadside Attractions) Week 2

$385,170 in 483 (+10)  theaters; PTA: $797; Cumulative: $1,427,000

A Love Song (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$54,890 in 107 (+73) theaters;  Cumulative: $145,917

Fire of Love (Neon) Week 7   54

$37,000 in 67 (+13) theaters; Cumulative: $878,234

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$59,778 in 101 (-12) theaters; Cumulative: $755,589

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (A24) Week 9

$139,625 in 202 theaters (-74); Cumulative: $5,655,000

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 20; also on PVOD

$37,099 in 72 (-39) theaters; Cumulative: $69,769,000

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