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Dinosaurs face off against Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise attends the UK premiere and Royal Film Performance of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ in Leicester Square on May 19, 2022 in London, England (L) and still of Jurassic World: Dominon (R)

Getty Images | Universal Studios

Dinosaurs are destined to steal the box office crown from Tom Cruise this weekend, but it’s not clear by how much.

Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” enters domestic theaters this Friday, and it will snag the majority of pricier premium format screens from Paramount and Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Box office analysts forecast a $125 million debut for “Jurassic World,” which should easily be the top grossing film at the box office his week. “Dominion” is the sixth film in the “Jurassic” franchise, which dates back to summer 1993, when Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” stomped all sorts of box office records.

“Interestingly, two blockbusters jockeying for screens is a ‘problem’ that hasn’t presented itself much if at all over the course of the pandemic,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “The dominance of one film for weeks on end has become the new normal, but one that is not beneficial for the overall health of theaters who need multiple popular films on their screens particularly in the summer season.”

Prior to the pandemic, it was not unusual for the summer movie season to see a stacked slate of film releases. Often blockbuster features opened back-to-back or with only a week or two between debuts.

“We’ve pointed to numerous litmus tests for moviegoing’s rebound over the past year, and this weekend will present yet another one,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “Can two giant blockbusters coexist relatively close to each other? Pre-pandemic, especially during summer, the answer was often yes with one caveat: the strength of word of mouth.”

“Top Gun: Maverick” has soared at the box office since it opened two weeks ago, tallying more than $546 million globally. Domestically, the film saw only a 32% drop in ticket sales in the during its second weekend in theaters, generating $86 million. Typically, films will see between a 50% and 70% drop between the first and second weekend. Analysts predict “Maverick” could snare another $50 million during its third domestic weekend.

“‘Maverick’ is clearly living up to and beyond its side of the bargain with a record-breaking run and near-immaculate audience reception, but it will lose out on IMAX and other premium screen ticket price boosts when ‘Jurassic’ opens,” said Robbins.

The average regular movie theater seat costs between $10 and $12, while premium seats average around $16. In some cases, premium formats like IMAX can cost $20 or more per seat. Domestically, the studio and movie theater chains typically split film proceeds evenly.

Still, the “Maverick” run at the box office is far from over. Robbins noted that the film has generated a lot of goodwill in cinemas, and while younger audiences may be courted into seeing the new “Jurassic World” film, older audiences will likely still turn up for Cruise’s sequel. More than half the audience for “Maverick” has been 35 or older, according to Paramount.

“The expected impact of ‘Jurassic World’ on the marketplace is one that has been baked into the strategic cake for ‘Top Gun: Maverick,'” said Dergarabedian. “The film will likely see another surge in popularity in late June and, of course, on the Fourth of July holiday.”

For “Jurassic World: Dominion,” however, this game of diminishing returns could be much more severe. The blockbuster feature has received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and could see a steep drop off in ticket sales after its opening weekend if word of mouth from moviegoers is also sour.

“Dominion” won’t have any major competition from an action flick until July 8, when Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” hits theaters. However, counterprograming like “Lightyear,” “Elvis,” “The Black Phone” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” could draw potential moviegoers away.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Jurassic World: Dominion.”



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