By Anthony D'Alessandro
Editorial Director/Box Office Editor
The start of the fall box office just got bleaker as Warner Bros is moving New Line’s adaptation of Stephen King vampire novel Salem’s Lot from Sept. 9 to April 21, 2023. I hear the move is due to Covid-related delays in the post production realm. The Gary Dauberman-directed pic also had a handful of days of additional photography six weeks ago.
That post Labor Day weekend is a rich one that Warner Bros/New Line created for horror movie fare, beginning with Stephen King’s It in 2017 which debuted to the month’s all-time record of $123.4M. Warner continued to tap that weekend in 2018 with The Nun which saw the best opening for The Conjuring franchise with $53.8M and again in 2019 with It: Chapter Two which debuted to $91M (Dauberman adapted the It movies for the big screen).
Now, without a big IP movie like Salem’s Lot, we’ll truly be in a desert at the box office.
After a recent successful weekend at the box office where all movies rocked to $236.1M thanks to Disney/Marvel’s $143M opening of Thor: Love and Thunder, and a great summer box office of $2.27 billion, just 12% off 2019; there remains a great chasm on the theatrical release schedule in regards to tentpole fare in the wake of Sony’s Bullet Train on Aug. 5. up until Oct. 14 when Blumhouse/Universal/Miramax’s Halloween Ends arrives as well as New Line/Warner Bros.’ Black Adam on Oct. 21.
Don’t get us wrong: the studios have programmed movies, but much smaller adult leaning fare like Tri Star’s The Woman King on Sept. 16 and New Line’s Olivia Wilde directed drama thriller Don’t Worry Darling on Sept. 23. Many in the industry scream for more diversified product at the box office and this fall will be another test of whether older adults come out at the box office during the pandemic. God forbid these movies don’t work; it will mean that streaming will continue to vacuum up and become the destination for more non-tentpole titles. Warner Bros’ Elvis, a lengthy movie at 2 hours and 39 minutes, is heading toward a $100M-plus gross after a $31.2M opening. The pic has provided a lot of hope that adults will still come out for non-tentpole fare in movie theaters.
For those exhibitors worried if they’ll be any product backfilling on Sept 9, Disney quietly took care of that on Friday when they moved the New Regency horror movie Barbarian, which coincidentally stars It actor Bill Skarsgard, from Aug. 31 to the post-Labor day frame. The Zach Cregger written and directed movie follows a young woman (Georgina Campbell) who arrives to a Detroit rental home. She discovers that the house is double booked and a strange man is already staying there. Against her better judgement, she decides to spend the evening, but soon discovers that there’s a lot more to fear than just an unexpected house guest. Justin Long, Matthew Patrick Davis, Richard Brake, Jaymes Butler and Kurt Braunohler also star.
However, Barbarian isn’t likely to have the same kind of heat that a Stephen King IP title would at the box office.
Warners is temporarily un-dating New Line zombie movie The Last Train to New York, previously on April 21 next year. Also the HBO Max New Line movie House Party, which was set to hit the streamer on July 28, is now undated.
Warners recently shifted all of their DC fare greatly in the calendar due to Covid related delays as well; specifically there’s a backlog in VFX houses as several movies come down the pike. This is a real thing sources are telling me: Because of all the back-logged movies, the motion picture business is facing its own supply chain issues.
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