‘Nightmare Alley’ dies a slow and painful death at the box office

Nightmare Alley

You may not have even noticed, but Spider-Man: No Way Home wasn’t the only major new release to arrive in theaters this weekend, although the numbers would indicate that it evidently passed a lot of people by.

Quite why Disney subsidiary Searchlight Pictures thought it was a good idea to move Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley back two weeks from December 3 and directly into the path of No Way Home is anybody’s guess, and the decision has backfired in exactly the way you would expect.

Even though the twisted psychological noir played on thousands of screens, marks the first feature from del Toro since he won two Academy Awards for producing and directing The Shape of Water, and scored strong reviews from critics to garner an 80% Rotten Tomatoes score, the prognosis for Nightmare Alley is painful.

The literary adaptation is estimated to have pulled in a paltry $3 million this weekend, even though we knew that every movie not named Spider-Man: No Way Home was going to suffer. It marks the second consecutive broad genre film aimed towards older audience to flop after Steven Spielberg’s West Wide Story underwhelmed last week, proving once again that anything that isn’t a big budget IP blockbuster isn’t safe from the effects of the pandemic yet.