Box Office: ‘PAW Patrol’ Sequel Wins Weekend With $23 Million Debut, ‘Dumb Money’ Flops With $3.5 Million

Paramount’s animated sequel “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” topped the box office in its debut, earning a solid $23 million from 3,989 North American locations over the weekend.

Those ticket sales were more than enough to rule over the three other new nationwide releases, which could be categorized as the good (Lionsgate’s gruesome “Saw X”), the meh (Disney and New Regency’s sci-fi thriller “The Creator”) and the ugly (Sony’s Game Stop stock-inspired “Dumb Money”).

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With decent reviews and strong audience scores, the “PAW Patrol” sequel almost doubled the debut of its inventively named predecessor, 2021’s “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” which opened to $13 million while landing simultaneously on Paramount+. The newest adventure based on the popular Nickelodeon kids TV show also launched at the international box office with $23.1 million, bringing its global tally to $46.1 million.

“It’s fantastic,” Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson says of the film’s opening weekend. “It’s a testament to the enduring and growing popularity of this property.”

“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” co-produced by Spin Master Entertainment, cost $30 million. Adding to the riches, its strong ticket sales will be dwarfed by the lucrative consumer products line. The franchise has earned $14 billion in global retail sales since 2014.

“The ‘PAW Patrol’ movies are not in the league of the Disney, Pixar and Illumination juggernauts, but they’re not designed to be,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “They cost a fraction of those giants.”

“Saw X” took second place with $18 million, an impressive start for the 10th entry in the long-running horror series. It’s not the biggest debut of the bunch, which still belongs to 2006’s “Saw III” ($33 million), but it improved upon the two prior installments, 2021’s spinoff “Spiral” ($8.7 million) and 2017’s “Jigsaw” ($16.6 million). At the international box office, “Saw X” collected $11.3 million from 50 territories for an estimated worldwide tally of $29.3 million. It cost just $13 million, so it’ll be profitable for its backers by the end of its theatrical run.

“The Creator,” directed by Gareth Edwards and starring John David Washington as the leader of a war between humans and AI, landed in third place with $14 million, below expectations for the $80 million-budgeted movie. Initial ticket buyers were 69% male while 78% were over the age of 25. The movie’s saving grace will be the international box office, where it opened to $18.2 million — not including China, Japan and Korea.

“The sci-fi genre ranks among the most appealing [genres] particularly in the overseas markets,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Based on solid word-of-mouth, ‘The Creator’ is likely to have long-term playability in the global marketplace.”

All the way in seventh place, “Dumb Money” flopped with $3.5 million as the comedic drama expanded to 2,837 venues following two weeks in limited release. Some analysts suggest the torrential rainstorm that plagued New York City on Friday and forced some theaters to close for the day had a bigger impact on “Dumb Money” compared to this weekend’s other offerings.

“This story has particular interest in NYC. It’s about stock trading and Wall Street,” Gross says. “With the extreme weather slowing that market, these numbers are down.”

However, it’s worth noting the film made $1.3 million on Friday and $1.3 million on Saturday, when NYC-area theaters reopened. It added approximately $900K on Sunday. It also doesn’t help that the cast of famous faces, including Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Pete Davidson and America Ferrera, aren’t allowed to promote the movie, which chronicles the stranger-than-fiction battle between Reddit investors and Wall Street tycoons over the GameStop stock, during the current SAG-AFTRA strike. After a quiet run in limited release, the R-rated “Dumb Money” has earned $7.3 million at the domestic box office. It cost $30 million, so any write-down won’t be catastrophic. But the disappointing turnout demonstrates the continued struggle of even well-reviewed movies aimed at adults.

“The Nun II” took fourth place, adding $4.6 million in its fourth weekend of release. So far, the supernatural sequel has generated $76.7 million at the domestic box office and $231 million worldwide. It still has ways to go to match the original 2018’s “The Nun” with $117 million in North America and $366 million globally.

However, the follow-up film cost $38 million to produce and was basically the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary September at the box office. For now, movie theaters are anxiously awaiting the debut of Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” concert film, which promises to bring people back to cinemas en masse when it lands on Oct. 13.

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