Nolte: Weekend Box Office Crashes to 2023 Low

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The weekend box office grossed just $48.9 million this weekend. That’s the total box office. That’s all the movies in every theater in North America. That means only around 6.2 million North Americans bothered to go to the movies this weekend.

So what was the problem?

Well, who asked for a fourth chapter of the Expendables? Hey, I love Stallone, Statham, and Lundgren, but the third chapter, which came out all the way back in 2014, bombed. Truth be told, I enjoyed the original franchise more and more as it went along. The third chapter was my favorite. Still, I was not clamoring for part four. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever watch part four. The lack of stars in part four doesn’t help. Expend4bles feels like those Dirty Dozen TV sequels that came out in the eighties. They’d bring back one or two of the original movie’s aging stars — Ernest Borgnine or Telly Savalas — and replace the rest with TV actors.

But, hey, that’s what Hollywood does now: milk these franchises until blood, marrow, and finally desiccated flesh hits the screens. Expend4ables was expected to open at a pretty low $16 million. It did around half that on a $100 million budget. It’ll make some money overseas and as part of the Expendables Quad Pack on Blu-ray or whatever lame-o name it gets, which is probably why they are still talking about a fifth chapter.

The most interesting number about the box office is that, as of this date, the 2023 box office is 20 percent behind the 2019 box office. We are two years out of the pandemic and still 20 points behind 2019, the final pre-pandemic year. Imagine those numbers without Barbie blowing up like it did and over-performing in ways no one expected. Same with Oppenheimer.

The only good 2023 box office news is that compared to last year, 2022, this year’s year-to-date box office is up 26.4 percent. But last year was also near-catastrophe and, like this year, saved by one movie: Top Gun: Maverick.

Hollywood still has October, November, and December. Looking over the schedule, the biggest box office hit might end up being Taylor Swift’s concert movie, which is not a Hollywood product.

Normally, a Marvel movie would guarantee a big box office boom, but The Marvels looks like another $300 million woke-bomb from the Disney Grooming Syndicate. Watching Disney collapse at the box office is at least one thing all decent people can look forward to.

The sycophantic entertainment media will blame this lousy box office year on everything but the actual quality of the product. Putting the blame where it belongs would require moral courage, which is in short supply. When the box office hits, we’re told movies are awesome. When the box office bombs, we’re told it’s the weather, or forest fires, or global warming (which is a hoax), or the strikes, or Trump, or the Proud Boys, or how Saturn is aligned with Jupiter. It’s never the lousy product. Never, ever, ever…

Hollywood is the only industry with an entire media ecosystem protecting it from any talk about its overall product quality.

John Nolte’s debut novel Borrowed Time (Bombardier Books – September 26) is available for pre-order. You can read an exclusive excerpt here.


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