'Elvis' edges 'Top Gun' in battle for box-office dollars

A heated weekend box-office battle came down to Sunday-night receipts and ... it turns out Elvis is still the King.

Sunday estimates had two films in a weekend dead heat at $30.5M each - Elvis (NASDAQ:WBD), the new musical biography of Elvis Presley helmed by Baz Luhrmann, the director of films including Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom; and Top Gun: Maverick (NASDAQ:PARA) (NASDAQ:PARAA), the sequel that's turned out to be star Tom Cruise's biggest hit.

But final results favored Elvis, which hit a total of $31.1M, while Maverick landed at $29.6M, with each film in nearly 4,000 theaters. Each film surpassed the third-week take of Jurassic World Dominion (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which saw business fall off 55% week-over-week to land at $26.4M.

And each of the top two films can count a victory: Elvis posted up strong for Warner Bros. (WBD) for adult drama in a season of blockbusters, while Top Gun: Maverick is showing unprecedented staying power in its later weeks of release. Its business dropped just 32% in its fifth week in theaters, in a time when other films often drop off 50% every week.

Top Gun: Maverick has become Tom Cruise's first movie to pass $1B worldwide, and has reached $521.7M domestically, landing it in the top 15 on the all-time list of movie grosses. (Next up as the run continues: No. 14 is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with $532.2M, and No. 13 is The Dark Knight with $535M.)

It's the second movie of the COVID-19 pandemic era to crest $1B globally, following Sony's (SONY) Spider-Man: No Way Home.

In a mixed market, Paramount is higher - (PARA) +0.6%; (PARAA) +0.2% - while Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is down 1.4%.

Meanwhile, a strong performance of $23.4M from horror entry The Black Phone (CMCSA) marks the first time in pandemic times that four movies crossed $20M in a single weekend. It was just ahead of Lightyear (DIS), with $17M.

And that's a good sign for cinema owners, whose rebound still trails 2019 numbers, mainly due to a relative dearth of film release quantity: AMC Entertainment (AMC); Cineworld (OTCPK:CNNWF); Cinemark (CNK); (IMAX); Marcus (MCS); Reading International (RDI); Cineplex (OTCPK:CPXGF); National CineMedia (NCMI).

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