‘Lisa Frankenstein’ does not bring the box office back to life

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« Lisa Frankenstein » didn’t come to life at the North American box office in its first weekend in theaters. The horror comedy written by Diablo Cody and starring Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse earned $3.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. It debuted in second place on a very slow Super Bowl weekend, behind the spy thriller « Argylle. »

Matthew Vaugn’s « Argylle » got first place with only $6.5 million, which brings its running domestic total to $28.8 million in two weekends. The $200 million production is Apple’s first major theatrical flop. Universal Pictures oversaw the North American release for the streamer, where it is playing in 3,605 locations. Globally, it’s earned $60.1 million to date.

Focus Features released « Lisa Frankenstein » in 3,144 locations. A 1980s-set teenage riff on Mary Shelly’s classic tale, « Lisa Frankenstein » was the directorial debut of Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda Williams. Reviews overall were mixed to negative with a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. AP’s Mark Kennedy wrote in his review that it was « a real monster — stitched together from previous movies, painfully incoherent and deeply, deeply dumb. »

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Audiences were mostly female (61%) and under the age of 35 (71%), according to exit data. But while the opening weekend was low, the production budget was also relatively modest at a reported $13 million.

The movie is set in the same universe as « Jennifer’s Body, » which was written by Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama. That film underwhelmed on its release in 2009 with critics and audiences but has gained appreciation and a cult cache in the past 15 years.

« The Beekeeper » landed in third place in its fifth weekend with an additional $3.5 million. The faith-based « The Chosen » series, showing its fourth season’s first three episodes, placed fourth with $3.2 million while « Wonka » rounded out the top five with $3.1 million.

Kathryn Newton in "Lisa Frankenstein."

Kathryn Newton appears here in a scene from « Lisa Frankenstein. » (Michele K. Short/Focus Features via AP)

Overall, it’s likely to be the slowest weekend of the year to date with around $40 million industry-wide down nearly 25% from last year. The big football game isn’t entirely to blame either — in the years prior to the pandemic, the same weekend was able to generate over $75 million. In 2009, the Liam Neeson movie « Taken » went head-to-head with the Super Bowl and made $24.7 million. And in 2015, « American Sniper » brought in $30.7 million.

But this year is different. Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore, attributes this to a number of factors, including the unique attention on this year’s game which, he said, « has become the center of attention for the world of entertainment. »

« There was only one new movie and there’s been so little momentum in this movie marketplace, » he said. « It should come as no surprise that, at least in the modern era, this is the lowest grossing Super Bowl weekend that we’ve seen. »

Dergarabedian added: « I don’t think anyone wanted to take a chance releasing a big wide release this weekend. »

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This week brings two bigger movies to theaters, « Bob Marley: One Love » and « Madame Web, » but things aren’t likely to pick up significantly until  » Dune: Part Two  » opens on March 1.

« This is the natural ebb and flow of things for theaters, » Dergarabedian said. « The box office will recover. »

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. « Argylle, » $6.5 million.
  2. « Lisa Frankenstein, » $3.8 million.
  3. « The Beekeeper, » $3.5 million.
  4. « The Chosen, » $3.2 million.
  5. « Wonka, » $3.1 million
  6. « Migration, » $3 million.
  7. « Anyone But You, » $2.7 million.
  8. « Mean Girls, » $1.9 million.
  9. « American Fiction, » $1.3 million.
  10. « Poor Things, » $1.1 million.