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Box office: ‘Cocaine Bear’ charts a solid opening, ‘Ant-Man 3’ falls

The box office can be an institution of simple pleasures. Hollywood publishes the story of a raging bear who was drugged from his mind, and what do you know? – ask people.

“Cocaine Bear” drew a total of $8.6 million on its opening day from 3,534 theaters, a figure that includes $2 million in Thursday previews. This puts the worldwide release ahead of expectations heading into the weekend, which the bloody comedy was pegged to debut between $15 million and $17 million. A fun marketing campaign and killer premise have given the film a strong standing, debuting north of $21 million now in the cards.

That would mark an auspicious launch for “Cocaine Bear,” which has a budget of $35 million. Comments were a bit all over the place; The film has an approval rating of 51% from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences are also a bit lukewarm, as the film received a “B-” grade by research firm Cinema Score, though an average score is fairly standard for a genre release with a horror slant. But, eventually, Cocaine Bear was called Cocaine Bear. The straightforward premise proves to be a winner and audiences have to watch the movie to believe it.

Along with a CGI bear (there were no real bears taking cocaine during production), “Cocaine Bear” stars Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ray Liotta, and Brooklyn Prince. Inspired by a true story, the film follows the residents of a small town in Georgia who must survive a killer bear after it swallows a duffel bag full of cocaine. The movie is (very loosely) based on a true story.

While “Cocaine Bear” was the highest-grossing Friday, it will probably land at #2 in the charts last weekend, behind the sophomore’s exit from “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” But even though the superhero entry is one step ahead of the competition, Marvel has certainly seen better days at the box office.

The bottom fell off Disney’s second Friday release, recording a total of $8.3 million, which is an 82% drop from last week’s opening day. Industry forecasts project nearly $30 million for the entry for “Ant-Man,” which would be a 72% drop from week to week. That would be a record for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, none of which have fallen more than 70% in a second weekend. In fact, the only movie to gross a domestic opening of over $100 million before dropping more than 70% is the latest Harry Potter entry, 2011’s “The Deathly Hallows – Part 2.”

With a domestic total now at $143 million, “Quantumania” still runs off as the biggest release of 2023 so far. But the massive drop shows how bad word-of-mouth can affect the film, which garnered more negative feedback than the average Marvel release.

Quantumania had an “Ant-Man” series-high opening of $105.5 million last week, besting the debut of its predecessor, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($75 million). Even with this easy start, projections for the second weekend of “Quantumania” are landing pretty close to the second weekend of the 2018 entry ($29 million).

Ant-Man and the Wasp wrapped up its 2018 run with $216 million domestically and $622 million worldwide. While these numbers are no small potatoes, the ending in this neighborhood of “Quantumania” will likely be seen as a disappointment for Marvel. The film carries a $200 million production budget (larger than previous “Ant-Man” entries) and stars Jonathan Majors-Kang, a villain who will play a bigger role in future Marvel Cinematic Universe entries.

At number three on the local charts, “Jesus Revolution” scored an impressive debut after earning $6.95 million on Friday, a figure that includes $3.3 million in gross revenue from early access showings earlier in the week. Screening in 2,475 theaters, the film is expected to open in the low eight figures. The Lionsgate version of Kingdom Story beats expectations, buoyed by enthusiastic audience reaction (the film received an “A+” grade by Cinema Score).

“Jesus Revolt” follows a young couple who help revive a sleepy rectory. The film stars Jonathan Romey, Joel Courtney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Kelsey Grammer, Anna Grace Barlow and Devon Franklin, while John Irwin and Brent McCorkle co-direct.

It looks like “Avatar: The Way of Water” will take fourth place, taking in $1.1 million on Friday. Still touring in its 11th weekend of release, James Cameron’s sci-fi sequel has grossed $661 million at the domestic box office so far.

The holiday season’s top five must-have in “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” The DreamWorks spinoff is looking to add an additional $4 million in its 10th weekend of release, increasing its domestic haul to $173 million.


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