PAW Patrol becomes the top dog at the US box office

After several quiet weeks in movie theatres, four films entered wide release over the weekend.

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie came out the top dog, with $US23 million ($A36 million) in ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The performances of all four films – PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, Saw X, The Creator and Dumb Money – told a familiar story at the box office. What worked? Horror and animated franchises. What didn’t? Originality and comedy.

PAW Patrol, from Paramount Pictures and Spin Master, had timing on its side.

The film, a sequel to the 2021 PAW Patrol movie adapted from the Nickelodeon TV series, was the first family animated movie in theatres since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was released in early August.

The first PAW Patrol, released during the pandemic, debuted with $US13 million while simultaneously releasing on Paramount+, and its success in both arenas was a contributing factor in leading Nickelodeon chief Brian Robbins to be named head of Paramount. A third PAW Patrol movie has already been green-lit.

Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, which cost $US30 million to make, added $US23.1 million in overseas sales.

Saw X, the tenth release in the long-running horror series, managed to bounce back from a franchise low with an opening weekend of $US18 million for Lionsgate.

The previous Saw movie, 2021’s Spiral, starring Chris Rock, debuted with $US8.8 million and totaled $US23.3 million domestically.

But the 10th Saw doubled back on gore and brought back Tobin Bell as the serial killer Jigsaw.

It came away with the franchise’s best opening weekend in more than a decade and strong audience scores.

The $US13-million production was also the widest Saw release yet, playing in 3262 theatres.

Since James Wan’s 2004 original, the Saw franchise – the flagship series of so-called torture porn – has made more than $US1 billion worldwide.

The Creator, an $US80 millionmovie financed by New Regency and distributed by Disney’s 20th Century Studios, was easily the biggest film to launch in theatres over the weekend but struggled to catch on.

It grossed a modest $US14 million at 3680 theatres while adding $US18.3 million internationally.

The film, directed by Gareth Edwards, stars John David Washington as an undercover operative in an AI-dominated future.

The Creator drew mostly positive reviews and a B+ CinemaScore from audiences.

Sony Pictures’ Dumb Money, expanded nationwide after two weeks of limited release but failed to ignite the kind of populist movement it irreverently dramatises.

The film, directed by Craig Gillespie, came away with a disappointing $US3.5 millionin 2837 locations.

Dumb Money, starring an ensemble of Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, American Ferrera and Anthony Ramos, turns the GameStop stock frenzy into a ripped-from-the-headlines underdog tale of amateur traders rattling Wall Street.

While all of the weekend’s new releases were hampered by the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, Dumb Money would have especially benefited from its cast hitting late-night shows and other promotions.

Made for $US30 million, Dumb Money wasn’t a massive bet. But it represented the kind of movie – a mid-budget, acclaimed original mostly targeted at adults – that Hollywood seldom makes anymore.

As the industry enters an awards season a year after many high-profile contenders (among them Tar and The Fabelmans) failed to catch on in theatres, the results for Dumb Money may be cautionary for films queuing up.

The weekend’s other notable success came from a four-decade-old concert film.

The 4K restoration of the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense made $US1 million on 786 screens, and surely led all movies in the number of dancing moviegoers.

The Jonathan Demme film has surpassed $US3 million thus far. Indie distributor A24 promised it will “have audiences dancing in the aisles around the world for a very long time to come”.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

1. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, $US23 million.

2. Saw X, $US18 million.

3. The Creator, $US14 million.

4. The Nun II, $US4.7 million.

5. The Blind, $US4.1 million.

6. A Haunting in Venice, $US3.8 million.

7. Dumb Money, $US3.5 million.

8. The Equalizer, $US2.7 million.

9. Expend4bles, $US2.5 million.

10. Barbie, $US1.4 million.

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