The Will Smith-headlined King Richard comes a cropper at the US box office, as the new Ghostbusters film outperforms expectations.

On the whole, it was a good weekend of business at the US box office. The new Ghostbusters film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, overcame middle reviews to outperform expectations. Its $44m gross suggests that Sony will be interested in setting up a further adventures on that particular saga, but it’s the box office returns for Oscar-runner King Richard that’s got Hollywood worried.

The acclaimed film – headlined by Will Smith – grossed just $5.7m on its opening weekend, the latest in a series of films aimed at older cinemagoers that simply haven’t financially performed. It’s hard to remember the last drama aimed at a more adult audience (not like that) which did hit big: best I can do is Sam Mendes’ 1917 off the top off my head. Meanwhile, films such as Respect and Reminiscence have fallen hard.

In the case of King Richard there are two mitigating factors. Firstly, Warner Bros released the film on HBO Max simultaneously alongside its cinema release in the US. It’s done that on several films this year, and for spectacle movies the box office tends to hold up (Dune is about to cross $100m in the US). But for dramas, thrillers and such like, it doesn’t. It also means of course that, sadly, the film is widely pirated.

The other mitigating factor is that King Richard is going to pick up awards nominations, and thus it’s going to have a longer life. But still: it’s a problem Hollywood looks no closer to solving. How can we get dramas of this ilk on the big screen, and still get an audience for them? Answers on a postcard please.

King Richard is playing in cinemas now.

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