‘The Northman’ Was #4 Over the Weekend, Then #1 on Monday: Why the Uptick?

Is this a startling real-time case study of the power of word of mouth?

In what could be an unprecedented happening, “The Northman” (Focus), the #4 domestic grossing film over the weekend, came in at #1 on Monday.

With a take of $1,093,350, it placed ahead of “The Bad Guys” (Universal), “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (Paramount), and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (Warner Bros.). All three did better over the weekend than Robert Eggers’ Viking epic.

There is some logic to this fluky event. Those three films all have mostly family appeal. With the weekend over, and schools nearly all back from vacation, these films dropping between 75 and 84 percent from Sunday’s gross (“The Bad Guys” most) is no big surprise. “The Northman” dropped 64 percent, a decent hold for a non-summer/holiday Monday. And it came after a Sunday that added $290,000 to the initial $12 million estimate from Focus.

Placing #1 (which it could do again for the next few days) is a nice boost. But the bigger story is that, despite the film’s weak B CinemaScore, the initial results for the film suggest that those who like it may be really enthusiastic about it. It could portend a decent hold for the film and a larger ultimate gross than analysts initially anticipated.

And with only “Memory” (Open Road) with Liam Neeson opening wide this weekend, it positions the film to rise as high as #2 next weekend behind “The Bad Guys.” With signs that audiences keep returning to theaters, and the summer season almost here (three years ago the same date saw “Avengers: Endgame” opening to the biggest first weekend ever), this would be one of the most encouraging grosses of late.

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