Back in the year 2000, before some of you reading this were probably even born, New Line Cinema tried launching a franchise based on the popular game Dungeons & Dragons. With its built in fanbase and $45 million budget (roughly $77 million in 2023 dollars) it seemed like a safe bet that it could at least recoup its budget simply by bringing in the fans of the game. That film would open to just $7.2 million on its way to a horrible $33.8 million worldwide take and would quickly be forgotten (ee dedicated a recent WTF episode to it). Well, 23 years later it appears that ship has been righted as Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has come in slightly above expectations with an estimated $38.5 million opening weekend take. I guess it makes sense that one of the original Freaks & Geeks is half responsible for making the first successful D&D film. Indeed, John Francis Daley who played the scrawny Sam Weir on the cult classic co-wrote and co-directed this film with Jonathan Goldstein. The duo had previously written the screenplays for such hit films as Horrible Bosses and Spider-Man: Homecoming before stepping into the directors chair(s) for Vacation, Game Night and now what will more than likely be their biggest directorial hit yet: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
So what went right for a movie that could have gone so very wrong? Well, as with any film, you must start with it actually being good. With a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score and a 93% audience score to go along with its A- cinemascore, I think it is safe to say that Dungeons & Dragons: H.A.T is far better than anyone expected it to be. Even non fans of the game such as our own JimmyO, found enough enjoyment from the film to recommend it. For me, while I’m not a big fan of fantasy films such as this one, I went in knowing that the creative team behind the film had a solid background in comedy and found myself laughing out loud a lot during the films 134 minute run time. This is a decent opening for a film that could have completely tanked, but the film does come with a reported $150 million price tag, so it has a ways to go before it can be considered a profitable endeavor, and with some stiff competition coming in the upcoming weeks (mainly The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which comes out next Wednesday) it will be interesting to see what kind of legs Dungeons & Dragons: Honer Among Thieves has.
Moving down one spot is the genre re-defining action film John Wick: Chapter 4 with an estimated $28.2 million take, representing a 62% drop off from its franchise best opening last week. That is pretty much in line with what most analysts (including myself) thought would happen with this film. Make no mistake, a $28.2 million second week is still a solid number and with word of mouth spreading for Mr. Wick’s fourth outing, we will see this one have solid legs over the next few weeks/ months. In my Saturday update I mistakenly said that Dungeons & Dragons had taken all of the premium screens from John Wick but that is actually not accurate as John Wick retained roughly 23% of their PLF (Premium Large Format) screens including some motion enhanced seats (such as DBox). I will be honest, I haven’t seen a motion enhanced film since Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation but if any film can get me back in one of those amusement park-esque seats it is definitely John Wick: Chapter 4!
Next up is Scream VI with $5.3 million as it moves ever closer to becoming the highest grossing film in the franchise (the original screen finished just shy of $104 million domestic).
Coming in fourth (or third depending how today’s numbers go) place is the new faith based title His Only Son with an estimated $5.3 million. That is actually a solid start to a film that is reported to have only cost $250,000 to produce. That is a huge win for Angel Studios who only launched in March 2021 as the result of some restructuring done after streaming company VidAngel was sued by Hollywood studios due to copyright protections (VidAngel would allow their streaming customers to fast forward or skip any content they deemed objectionable such as profanity and nudity). Regardless of how Angel Studios came to be, between this and the successful The Chosen series, it is safe to say they are emerging as a power player in the faith based film market.
Coming in fifth and sixth place are your holdover titles such as Creed III with $5 million and a healthy $148.5 million at the domestic box office (for comparison Creed topped out with $109.7 million domestic while Creed II hit $115.7 million.) While sixth place belongs to Shazam: Fury of the Gods with an additional $4.7 million added to its fairly unimpressive $53.5 million domestic total, I think I understand why director David F. Sandberg said he is done with Super Hero movies!
Seventh place belongs to the 2023 Sundance US Grand Jury Award winner A Thousand and One which saw a decent $1.8 million from under 1000 screens. This isn’t the type of film that usually hits hard at the box office, so a top ten finish is actually a solid start and should give the film some visibility as I’m not sure the average Joe (blo) is that impressed with films that win awards at Sundance, not the way us movie nerds are at least!
Rounding out the top ten are your holdovers 65 which pulled in another $1.5 million and is actually doing far better than I expected it would after I saw it on opening weekend. With just a $45 million budget, this one could actually see some profitability after hanging around the top ten for as long as it has. Next up is Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp with a reported $1.2 million and in tenth place is the faith based film Jesus Revolution with $1 million that has been a solid performer since it opened six weeks ago.
Did you make it out to theaters this weekend or was the streaming draw of Murder Mystery 2 and Tetris just too much to pass up? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check out our weekly poll where we ask: What is your Favorite Fantasy Film?