Up until a new Marvel movie that people will be checking out this weekend, my favorite movie of 2023 was, without question, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. I simply couldn’t remember the last time I had so much fun in a movie theater. I loved everything about it, and I wasn’t the only one. Most critics loved the new Dungeons & Dragons movie, and most audiences that went to see it did as well. But there is one big problem: the audience that has actually seen it wasn’t nearly big enough.
Considering how strong the word of mouth was at release, I was actually a bit surprised when I discovered that, despite being out in theaters for over a month, Honor Among Thieves hasn’t even broken the $200 million mark at the global box office. It’s just short of that number, and with the film still technically in theaters, it could still break it. But even then, a $200 million box office run is frustrating for a movie that was so good and had so much more to offer with potential Honor Among Thieves sequels that we likely now won’t see.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Box Office Will Make A Sequel Tough
In comparison to the rest of the 2023 new movie releases so far, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has done, well, OK. It’s the number five movie worldwide and still in the top 10 domestically, but when you look at things in an absolute sense, the picture changes drastically. With an estimated budget of $150 million before marketing, the movie is far from even hitting the break-even point, which is absolutely astounding for a movie that has such a positive response from those that have seen it.
Honor Among Thieves has a 90% critics score and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. In a place where audiences tell critics they are out of touch and critics scream into a void regarding movies audiences don’t care about, everybody who has seen this movie seems to be in agreement that it's worth seeing.
But a $200 million box office haul does not a franchise make. Honor Among Thieves has made less than half of what Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has brought in, and that movie has been met with a lot of mixed-negative reviews. Even if the new D&D movie ultimately proves profitable, it’s not looking like it will do well enough to convince anybody that the world needs more of it.
Honor Among Thieves Is One Of The Most Accessible Blockbusters In Years
It’s certainly true that it's tough these days for any movie to get made unless it has some sort of popular IP attached to it. Audiences lament that it seems that every movie is a remake or a reboot or based on a comic book, and we frequently hear calls for more original concepts. Well, that’s the dirty little secret of Dungeons & Dragons: it has a title that implies a connection to a larger media franchise, but it’s all used in the service of a completely original story.
I have to assume that one of the reasons that Honor Among Thieves didn’t become an overnight smash is the fact that it had Dungeons & Dragons in its title. It’s a name that a lot of people know, but one that not nearly as many of them directly understand. This may have resulted in an audience that felt the movie was ”not for them” because they didn’t understand D&D.
While it’s perhaps understandable that people could react that way, it’s incredibly frustrating because it's clear the Honor Among Thieves filmmakers went the extra mile to make sure the movie was available to everybody. D&D, by its very nature, is actually a game about creating any story you want, so there’s no lore or history that becomes required to figure out the movie. If anything about D&D is potentially confusing, it's the mechanics of playing the game, which aren't featured in the film in any way.
Honor Among Thieves doesn't actually require any Dungeons & Dragons knowledge. It is a straightforward fantasy adventure with heroes, villains, magic and monsters. If you can understand those concepts, you’re ready to kick back and enjoy an incredibly fun, funny, exciting and surprisingly heartfelt adventure.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Is Going To Be “Discovered” On Paramount+
Not every great movie was a box office hit. That was true when people found movies later on cable TV and VHS, and it’s still the case today. I feel pretty confident that the same thing will happen when Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves arrives on Paramount+. We don’t know exactly when that will be, but with the theatrical release wrapping up, it could just be a few weeks away.
People are going to open their Paramount+ subscriptions, see the movie and recognize it as something that looked like it might have been fun when they saw the trailer online, and then finally give it a try. We will then find social media full of people who are shocked this movie didn’t do better because it’s actually a lot of fun, and they can’t believe nobody told them it was good! (Spoiler: everybody told them it was good).
If this happens enough, it could potentially relaunch the prospects of Dungeons & Dragons as a franchise. Something similar happened when Encanto went viral on Disney+ after having a fairly mediocre theatrical run. It now seems all but certain we will get more Encanto content from Disney in one form or another, but it seems likely that D&D will need a similar grassroots response to have any chance of future life.
I’ll certainly be holding out hope. I'll be beating the drum for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves as the best movie of the year that you probably haven’t seen until you see it and are forced to admit that I’m right. The movie is still in theaters, so you have a chance to help reverse this terrible situation if you hurry up and do it soon.