‘Smile’ Opens With $22 Million, ‘Bros’ With $4.8 Million

‘Smile’ Opens With $22 Million, ‘Bros’ With $4.8 Million: The opening weekend of Paramount’s “Smile” was the most successful in American theatre history, grossing almost $22 million. The horror movie also did better than the other new wide release this weekend, Universal’s LGBTQ romance comedy “Bros,” which debuted at #4 with a meager $4.8 million.

In terms of original horror releases, “Smile” is up there with “Barbarian” ($10 million) and “The Invitation” ($7 million), both from 20th Century Studios. With Universal’s “Halloween Ends” set for release in two weeks, the studio will be trying to capitalize on the increasing demand for scary movies as the calendar turns to October.

Scarily strong earnings for a movie that only cost $17 million to make and was supposed to be released exclusively via streaming service is what “Smile” has brought in at the box office.

Chris Aronson, head of distribution at Paramount, called it “honestly fantastic.” I hate using superlatives, but this is beyond anything we could have imagined.

As the production progressed, however, “Smile” continued to surpass all expectations. After positive reactions from preview audiences, Paramount decided to release the picture in theatres nationwide. This week, the corporation employed some ingenious advertising strategies by carefully positioning hired actors behind home plate during broadcasts of Major League Baseball games. When cameras focused in on hitters walking up to the plate, unnerving fans wearing “Smile” t-shirts stood out.

The previous weekend’s number one, “Don’t Worry Darling,” had a massive 62% decrease in its second weekend. The thriller from Warner Bros. came in second and grossed $7.3 million, increasing its domestic total to $32.8 million.

The third place $7 million brings Sony’s “The Woman King” domestic total to $46.7 million. Earning $4.7 million, Disney’s re-release of “Avatar” rounded out the top five.

The studio is seeking to boost interest in the long-awaited return to Pandora, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which will premiere in December, by rereleasing James Cameron’s fantasy film.

Paramount’s recent streak of success continues with “Smile.” Six of the studio’s previous seven films, including “Top Gun: Maverick,” “The Lost City,” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” have debuted at number one at the box office. Aronson emphasized that meticulous scheduling and robust marketing efforts contributed to their success.

Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) plays a therapist who experiences terrifying smiley-faced hallucinations after witnessing the suicide of a patient. Kyle Gallner, Kal Penn, Jessie T. Usher, Caitlin Stasey, Rob Morgan, and Robin Weigert also appear in the film. In terms of demographics, “Smile” brought in a viewership that was 52% male and 68% between the ages of 18 and 34.

Due to its low $22 million production budget, “Bros” didn’t pose a significant financial risk for Universal. It was critically acclaimed, but spectators were visibly distant. Universal predicted $8 million to $10 million for “Bros,” so its first weekend took in approximately half of that.

In spite of its economic failure, Billy Eichner’s picture will go down in history as the first of its kind: the first gay rom-com released in theatres by a major studio, the first with an all-openly LGBTQ ensemble, and Eichner himself as the first openly homosexual male to create and appear in a Hollywood film.

Universal is hopeful that “Bros'” (which had an “A” CinemaScore) favorable reviews and audience reception would encourage more word-of-mouth and extend the film’s run in theatres.

Jim Orr, president of domestic distribution at Universal, said, “We are tremendously proud of ‘Bros.'” Every single person who watched it thought it was fantastic. I believe the film will have further success and longevity based on that reception.

In “Bros,” played by Eichner, Bobby is a smart museum executive who has fallen on hard times and has fallen for Aaron, played by Luke Macfarlane, a hulking lawyer who could turn his life around. Cast members Guy Branum, Ts Madison, Dot-Marie Jones, Bowen Yang, and Jim Rash work under director Nicholas Stoller in this film.

Romantic comedies used to be a safe bet at the theatre, but now, with the exception of “The Lost City,” which starred Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, they rarely succeed at the box office. This month, Universal will try again with “Ticket to Paradise,” a “meet cute” starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. When it premieres on October 21st, we’ll find out if that film does better.

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