Box Office: John Krasinski’s ‘IF’ Debuts at No. 1 With Soft $33 Million

UPDATED: Not exactly the opening weekend that dreams are made of.

Director John Krasinski’s “IF,” a fantasy-comedy that promises your imaginary friends from childhood are real, fell slightly short of box office expectations with $33.7 million — below Sunday’s estimates of $35 million.

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Heading into the weekend, “IF” was expected to bring in at least $40 million in its first weekend of release. Based on Friday’s turnout, it looked like “IF” would open to $30 million but projections were revised up after Saturday’s strong showing. Ticket sales were enough for first place — and decent for an original PG family film — but it’s a wobbly start for a movie that cost $110 million to make and many millions more to market. It collected an additional $20 million overseas for a global total of $55 million.

The good news for Paramount Pictures, which distributed “IF,” is that audiences dug the film, giving it an “A” CinemaScore. Ideally, it’ll have staying power like recent original kid-friendly movies, including “Migration” and “Elemental,” which managed to keep selling tickets months after their debuts. But while those films had relatively clear runways, “IF” will compete next weekend with another family film, Sony’s animated “The Garfield Movie.”

Krasinski wrote, directed, produced and stars in “IF,” which follows Brooklyn-dwelling neighbors Cal and Bea (Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming) with the ability to see other people’s imaginary friends (IF, for short). Steve Carell, Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Emily Blunt, Bradley Cooper, Jon Stewart and George Clooney round out the star-studded voice cast of IFs. Reviews have been mixed (it has a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes), with Variety’s Tomris Laffly calling it “a sweetly old-fashioned yet messily conjured children’s tale that sadly falls short of its thematic ambitions.”

It’s another downbeat weekend for the domestic box office, which remains almost 22% behind 2023 and 42% below the same point in 2019, according to Comscore. Movie theater owners are hoping for a pop next weekend as Memorial Day brings the release of “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” which premiered to rave reviews at Cannes Film Festival, and “The Garfield Movie,” which has already kicked off internationally with $49 million. Later in the summer, Reynolds and Hugh Jackman’s “Deadpool & Wolverine,” Universal and Illumination’s “Despicable Me 4” and Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” will attempt to salvage popcorn season and fill seats at multiplexes.

“The early summer lineup is subdued. The industry is waiting for an over-performer to beat expectations and break out,” says David A. Gross of movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “We continue to trail pre-pandemic box office levels by a wide margin, and comparisons are not going to get easier as we move into the heart of summer.”

Another newcomer, Lionsgate’s eerie horror film “The Strangers: Chapter 1,” opened in third place and beat expectations with $12 million from 2,856 theaters. The movie, which was targeting a start of $7 million to $9 million, cost $8.5 million so it’s well-positioned in its theatrical run. Though not terribly surprising for the genre, “The Strangers” was panned by audiences and critics, who saddled the film with a “C” CinemaScore and bleak 13% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Never mind reviews. Lionsgate intends to turn “The Strangers” into a standalone trilogy — separate from the studio’s 2008 thriller of the same name, starring Liv Tyler — with Chapters 2 and 3 to follow. The first installment centers on a young couple (Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez), who are forced to spend the night in a remote cabin after their car breaks down in an eerie small town. Naturally, they are terrorized by masked strangers with seemingly no mercy or motive.

“[Chapter 1] is going to be profitable, and it gives the series something to build on,” says Gross.

Also new to theaters is the Amy Winehouse biopic “Back to Black,” which landed at No. 5 with a dismal $2.85 million from 2,010 venues. It’s a terrible start for any movie that’s playing nationwide, though Focus Features acquired the film in the U.S. and several international territories for less than $20 million. “Back to Black” has already grossed $37 million overseas.

Moviegoers were fonder than critics of the movie, which holds a “B+” CinemaScore and 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the R-rated “Back to Black,” an intimate look at the life and career of a destructive musical genius. Marisa Abela plays Amy Winehouse, the British singer-songwriter who catapulted to fame with hits like “Back to Black” and “Rehab” and died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at age 27.

Meanwhile, last weekend’s champion “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” slid to second place with $26 million from 4,075 theaters, a decline of 55% from its debut. So far, the fourth chapter in the Disney and 20th Century’s “Apes” reboot franchise has generated $100.9 million domestically and $237 million globally.

Universal’s “The Fall Guy,” an original action-comedy starring another Hollywood Ryan — Gosling — and Emily Blunt, took the No. 4 spot with $8.4 million from 3,845 locations in its third weekend of release. Despite positive reviews, the movie failed to pop at the start of summer and has since generated just $63 million domestically and $127 million worldwide. The studio spent $140 million on production costs alone, so “The Fall Guy” needs serious staying power to stick the landing and redeem its theatrical run.

Elsewhere, Amazon MGM’s documentary “The Blue Angels” captured a solid $1.325 million from 268 Imax screens globally — averaging $5,774 per location. J.J. Abrams and “Top Gun: Maverick” star Glen Powell produced the non-fiction film, which is only playing in Imax and chronicles a year in the cockpit with one of the world’s top aviator teams — the Navy and Marine Corps flight squadron — through their intense training and aerial touring show.

Also in limited release, Neon’s comedy “Babes,” from director Pamela Adlon,” collected $171,321 from 12 venues — translating to $14,277 per location. Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau lead the film as two 30-something best friends who guide each other through pregnancy and motherhood. It’ll continue to expand in the coming weeks.

(Updated with Monday’s final tally)

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