Spooky Season Boosts Smile At The Box Office, But There's Bad News For Bros

Sosie Bacon in Smile
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Halloween is now less than a month away, and it's pretty damn clear that movie-goers are excited. In the past few weeks, films of the creepy and scary variety have been topping the box office, including Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling and Zach Cregger's Barbarian, and it feels like at least some of that is an extension of "'tis the season." Naturally, the reason I bring this up is because this weekend saw yet another horror title dominate on the big screen, as Parker Finn's Smile has become an instant hit. 

Unfortunately, what's good news for Smile is bad news for Nicholas Stoller's Bros... but I'll get into that after you scope out the full Top 10 below:

Weekend Box Office September 30-October 2, 2022 CinemaBlend Smile

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
1. Smile*$22,000,000 $22,000,000 Row 0 - Cell 3 3,650
2. Don’t Worry Darling$7,300,000 $32,804,643 14,121
3. The Woman King$7,000,000 $46,713,156 23,504
4. Bros*$4,800,000 $4,800,000 Row 3 - Cell 3 3,350
5. Avatar$4,696,000 $779,100,388 31,860
6. Ponniyin Selvan: Part One*$4,100,000 $4,100,000 Row 5 - Cell 3 500
7. Barbarian$2,817,000 $33,107,280 42,720
8. Bullet Train$2,400,000 $102,333,720 71,931
9. DC League Of Super Pets$1,305,000 $91,693,642 81,924
10. Top Gun: Maverick$1,230,112 $713,457,000 91,561

2022 Has Another Win For Original Horror Movies With Smile

Between the aforementioned Don't Worry Darling, Jordan Peele's Nope, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's Scream, and Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone, there are a lot of horror titles ranked in the Top 25 domestic opening weekends in 2022, and Smile is the latest to join the club. The film got buzz jump started with its premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas a couple week before its release, and it sports a solid 75 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The positive word of mouth has resulted in the movie earning $22 million in its first three days in theaters, per The Numbers.

It's hard to look at it as anything but a big genre win. While the feature does have some recognizable names in its cast– including Jessie T. Usher, Kal Penn, Kyle Gallner Judy Reyes and Rob Morgan – it doesn't have a big anchoring it, and it isn't based on any recognizable IP (it's technically an adaptation of Parker Finn's short film Laura Hasn't Slept). This movie's success is arguably the result of positive word of mouth, smart marketing, and a perfect release date, which makes it an anomaly in the modern entertainment industry – and an exciting one.

Like with most horror movies these days, Smile business at the box office is very much boosted by the fact that it was not a film that was expensive to make. Variety reports that the budget was only $17 million. There are still publicity and marketing expenses that need to be accounted for, but obviously the release is well on its way to being considered a huge success.

Sosie Bacon in Smile

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Smile is additionally in a position to demonstrate some legs. There is definitely some significant competition on the big screen coming in the next few weeks, including David Gordon Green's Halloween Ends and Jaume Collet-Serra's Black Adam, but spooky season is going to be keeping interest up for good horror movies, and Parker Finn's film is going to be around to feed the appetite.

Barbarian is a good model to at which to look. The film was released almost a month ago, and while its opening weekend saw it do less than half the business that Smile did in its first three days, it has stuck around in the Top 10 and continued to make money. It was only made with a reported $4 million budget (per Variety), and to date it has made $34.8 in its theatrical run (which includes the $1.7 million it has made from outside the United States and Canada).

While Smile doesn't match Barbarian when it comes to critical response (the latter movie sports a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), it has received a better grade from CinemaScore ("B-" vs, "C+"), it has been released closer to Halloween, and it is off to a faster start in ticket sales. It could very likely end up being called one of the biggest success stories of the season.

Bros Continues A Sad Trend For Big Screen, R-Rated Comedies

There's a lot to be happy about when it comes to the success of Smile, but Bros is a very different sadly. It's another title that has earned tremendously positive word of mouth following a festival premiere in September, but the end results are very different. The LGBTQ+ comedy had to settle for fourth place in its opening weekend, making only $4.8 million and ranking behind both Don't Worry Darling (in its second weekend) and Gina Prince-Bythewood's The Woman King (in its third weekend).

It's a bummer to see a great movie fail, and this very much is that, but it's also hard not to see this as troubling extension of a larger trend concerning theatrically-released R-rated comedies: they seem to be going extinct. Since the start of the pandemic, we've seen the release of a few titles in that specific category – including Jason Woliner's Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Max Barbakow's Palm Springs, Michael Showalter's The Lovebirds, and Judd Apatow's The King Of Staten Island... but all of those films were given streaming or digital releases. 

Excluding the more action-centric features – including David Leitch's Bullet Train, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah's Bad Boys For Life, Patrick Hughes' The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard – there are only two R-rated comedies listed among the Top 100 domestic releases since the start of 2020, and they are Jeff Tremaine's Jackass Forever and Miguel Arteta's Like A Boss. Following the disheartening release of Bros, it's hard not to feel like being in a crowded movie theater with hundreds of people in simultaneous uproarious laughter at a bawdy romance or adventure is becoming a thing of the past, and that thought is horrible depressing.

Bullet Train Finally Crosses $100 Million At The Domestic Box Office

To end this week's box office report on a more positive note, one of the late summer's biggest fits finally hit a major milestone, as Bullet Train (released in early August) has finally crossed $100 million at the box office. I first started teasing this development back in early September when the film made it to $92.5 million, but it has only finally hit nine figures now that it has slipped to eighth place in the weekend Top 10 and is playing in fewer than 2,000 locations.

Bullet Train is one of only 13 movies to hit $100 million in 2022, and combined with what it has made abroad the film has earned $236.1 million to date. That makes it the twelfth highest grossing film of the year, ahead of Angus MacLane's Lightyear ($218.9 million).

Coming up this weekend, there are three new releases set to potentially shake up the Top 10, including David O. Russell's star-studded period thriller Amsterdam, Josh Gordon and Will Speck's family-centric Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and Todd Field's Cate Blanchett-led composer drama Tár. Head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to see how everything shakes out, and check out our 2022 Movie Release Calendar to discover all of the features set to come out between now and the end of the year.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.