‘The Flash,’ ‘Elemental’ disappoint as ‘Spider-Verse’ continues box office domination


Ezra Miller stars as Barry Allen in Warner Bros.’ “The Flash.”
Warner Bros. Discovery

Moviegoers spread the wealth over Father’s Day weekend across a diverse slate of new releases and lingering favorites.

The mixed results saw disappointing debuts from “The Flash” and “Elemental,” while “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” continued to attract ticket buyers.

Warner Bros.’ latest superhero film hauled in just $55 million during its first three-day weekend, a far cry from the $75 million to $85 million industry experts had expected. It also fell short of the $67 million debut of fellow DC film “Black Adam” last October.

“‘The Flash’ is a victim of numerous factors that stalled buzz for the once highly anticipated film,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

Robbins pointed to the ongoing controversy surrounding star Ezra Miller, a lack of consistency in the DC film franchise and a too-narrowly focused marketing campaign that only targeted die-hard fans for the lower-than-expected box office opening.

“Audiences have shown in recent months and post-‘Endgame’ years that they are being more selective about which comic book films are going to earn their box office dollars,” he said.

It wasn’t the only film to see a poor audience response over the weekend. Disney’s animation rut continued with the release of “Elemental,” which is expected to have the second-lowest opening of any wide-released Pixar film in the studio’s history. Estimates peg the film’s debut at $29.5 million, just higher than the $29.1 million “Toy Story,” Pixar’s first-ever theatrical release, which opened in 1995.

“[‘Elemental’s’] middling debut is less surprising,” Robbins said, noting that Pixar is in the middle of rebranding itself following a slew of pandemic-era streaming releases.

Pixar is also facing steep competition from rival animation studios. Universal’s Illumination and DreamWorks animation arms have dominated the box office with hits like “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

And then there is Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which has continued to attract audiences since its June 2 debut. The film generated an estimated $27.8 million over the three-day spread and has tallied $489.3 million globally since its June 2 release.

“Though there were no massive overperformances by the wide-release newcomers, this weekend was distinguished by the sheer number of movies and the wide variety of audience demographics drawn to the multiplex,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

Paramount’s “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” added another $20 million domestically, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” secured another $11.6 million in ticket sales and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” took in another $5 million.

Across Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Father’s Day weekend, the domestic box office is expected to tally just under $175 million in receipts. That’s 5% higher than the haul over the same period in 2022 and 28% higher than 2019, according to data from Comscore.

“Father’s Day weekend, while not boasting a record-smashing breakout hit, was a great one for movie theaters that saw their fortunes rise by virtue of an appealing assortment of films that powered a fantastic overall weekend,” said Dergarabedian.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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