Disneys ‘Free Guy’ Tops Expectations at Weekend Box Office

Ryan Reynolds is a charmer at the box office. Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy (starring Reynolds) topped opening weekend expectations and is projected to generate $28.4 million across 4,165 domestic screens through Aug. 15. The movie, with a reported $100 million production budget, added $22.5 million in international ticket sales.

The movie is Disney’s first experiment releasing a theatrical title with an a shortened exclusive 45-day window. The tally is expected to best Warner  Bros. Pictures’ $26.2 million opening weekend’s total for The Suicide Squad. The sequel to the 2016 original Suicide Squad is concurrently available on the HBO Max subscription streaming service.

Disney has taken a different approach to WarnerMedia by making the recent Black Widow and Jungle Cruise movies available as a $29.99 Premier Access Disney+ add-on for subscribers. While exhibitors have bemoaned the strategy, and Black Widow headliner Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney claiming the studio intentionally co-released the movie on Premier Access to reduce her total compensation, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the company is approaching distribution on a per-film basis.

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“We will always do what we believe is in the best interest of the film and the best interests of our constituents,” Chapek said on the company’s latest earnings call. Disney’s next major release, Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, also will have an exclusive 45-day window.

Meanwhile, The Suicide Squad saw ticket sales freefall about 70% from last weekend’s opening, generating $7.7 million, or $42.8 million total in the United States. The movie finished behind the weekend’s runner-up, Sony Pictures’ new release Don’t Breathe 2, which generated a projected $10.6 million in revenue — par for expectations.

Jennifer Hudson as R&B singer Aretha Franklin in MGM/United Artists Releasing’ Respect generated $8.8 million across more than 3,000 screens in its opening weekend.

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