‘Shang-Chi’ Looking for Third Weekend Box Office ‘Ring’

Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has dominated the weekly box office slugfest its first two theatrical weekends, rejuvenating exhibitor confidence and quieting Wall Street naysayers despite a still-surging Delta variant.

That trend is likely to continue through Sept. 19 as Shang-Chi again is projected to best the competition at least until the Oct. 1 debut of Sony Pictures’  Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Unlike other Marvel releases that have seen ticket sales fall significantly after their opening box office weekend, Shang-Chi continues to resonate with moviegoers.

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In addition to setting an all-time Labor Day box office record with $75.4 million over three days ($94.6 million over four days), Shang-Chi holds the best second-weekend revenue tally ($34.5 million) of any movie released during the pandemic. Topping Paramount Pictures sequel A Quiet Place Part II’s third-weekend tally of $12 million is well within its grasp.

Shang-Chi’s primary original contenders include Warner Bros. Pictures’ Cry Macho, starring and directed by 91-year-old Clint Eastwood; and Open Road Film’s Gerald Butler actioner Copshop. Eastwood scored at hit ($17.5 million) in his last movie playing a senior citizen drug courier in The Mule. But social media buzz surrounding Macho is suggesting an opening box office tally more in line with 2019 release Richard Jewell ($4.7 million).

More importantly, Macho is streaming concurrently for free on HBO Max, a hybrid release strategy many observers feel torpedoed Warner’s last box office release: Malignant, and has is projected to generate less than $10 million domestic gross after two weekends.

Among returning movies, 20th Century Studios’ action comedy Free Guy and Universal Pictures sequel Candyman look to sustain strong box office runs with $4.3 million and $3.3 million in projected domestic ticket sales.

‘Candyman’ Looking to Supplant ‘Free Guy’ Atop Weekend Box Office

With positive reviews, strong social media buzz and a star producer, Universal Pictures’ horror sequel Candyman is looking to knock off Disney/20th Century Studios’ Free Guy from atop the domestic weekend box office through Aug. 29.

The “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 original Candyman, the new movie’s trailer on social media platforms (i.e. YouTube) has reportedly generated more than 60 million views. With a largely black ensemble cast and female director (Nia DaCosta, who is helming Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels), the movie’s marketing ace in the hole is producer Jordan Peele, whose resumé includes box office and critical hits Get Out and Us, among others.

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The title joins a heavy horror-themed 2021 release slate that includes movies such as Lionsgate’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw; The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Warner Bros.); The Forever Purge and Old (both Universal); and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony Pictures, Screen Gems).

Also impacting Candyman’s box office (reportedly to range from $16 million to $26 million), as well as other theatrical titles, is the ongoing pandemic, increasing Delta variant infections, and the fact Universal will release the movie in homes on premium VOD after 17 days if the first-week box office falls below $50 million.

Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds’ boyish charm continues to propel action comedy Free Guy, which has generated more than $117 million at the worldwide box office, including $64 million domestically. The movie has topped the domestic box office since its Aug. 11 release.

Other box office returners include Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie; Disney’s The Jungle Cruise; MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect; Warner’s The Suicide Squad; Lionsgate’s The Protégé; opening weekend disappointment Reminiscence (Warner); and The Night House (Searchlight Pictures).

‘Free Guy’ Reigns Supreme Again at Weekend Box Office

Disney/20th Century Studio’s action comedy Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, held off cute animated puppies and Hugh Jackman at the domestic box office, generating an estimated $18.8 million in revenue across more than 4,000 North American screens through Aug. 22. The tally is about 34% less than the movie’s previous weekend opening of $28.4 million. To date, the movie has generated more than $63 million in the U.S., and $112 million worldwide.

The resilient showing masked a weak overall box office that saw less than $60 million in ticket sales — the lowest weekend tally since June 20.

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In the second spot, with almost $13 million in revenue across 3,100 screens ($34.5 million globally), was Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie, an impressive debut considering the target audience is under the age of 12. The animated feature crushed Warner Bros. Pictures’ Reminiscence, starring Hugh Jackman, with just $2 million in reported revenue across 3,200 screens. The movie, along with Warner’s entire 2021 theatrical slate, is streaming for free to HBO Max subscribers for the first 31 days of release.

How bad did it get for Warner? Reminiscence revenue finished behind a pack of repeat showings, including Disney’s Jungle Cruise with $6.2 million ($92.5 million worldwide); Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2 with $5 million ($19.6 million); MGM’s Respect ($3.8 million, $15.1 million); The Suicide Squad ($3.4 million, $49.2 million); Lionsgate new release The Protege ($2.9 million) and Searchlight Pictures’ opening weekend bow of The Night House at $2.8 million.

Weekend Box Office: Can ‘Free Guy’ Hold Off ‘Paw Patrol’?

NEWS ANALYSIS — Disney’s 20th Century Studios release Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who discovers he’s a character in a video game, dominated last weekend’s domestic box office, generating more than $28 million in its theatrical debut ($60 million globally).

With a high approval score on social media and among movie critics, Free Guy would appear a lock to again top weekend ticket sales through Aug. 22, especially since Disney is not concurrently offering the movie on Premier Access as it did for Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. The movie is projected to generate more than $15 million at U.S. screens.

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But Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie aims to change that trajectory. The adventure comedy is the biggest animated theatrical release since Universal Pictures’ The Boss Baby: Family Business on July 1, which generated $16 million its opening weekend, and Warner Bros. Pictures’ animation/live-action hybrid Space Jam: A New Legacy, which scored $31 million in its opening July 18 weekend.

In addition to strong social media approval, Paw Patrol is a venerable brand for Nickelodeon through ongoing TV series and consumer products. The movie is projected to generate $14 million in domestic ticket sales.

In a recent National CineMedia and Screenvision Media consumer survey through Aug. 2, 79% of respondents were not overly concerned about the new Delta variant. Another 87% said they have seen a movie in the theater this year and plan to go to the movie theater between now and the end of this year.

The survey also found that moviegoers are outpacing the general population for being fully vaccinated (82% vs. 61% national average at the time of the survey).

Other new releases include Warner’s Reminiscence, which is also streaming for free on HBO Max; Searchlight Pictures’ horror film The Night House; and Lionsgate’s The Protégé.

Returning titles include Jungle Cruise, MGM/United Artists’ Aretha Franklin biopic Respect; Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2; Warner’s The Suicide Squad, and Universal Pictures’ Old.

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.

Weekend Box Office: Disney Debuting First 45-Day Theatrical Release With ‘Free Guy’

Walt Disney Studios is set to turn another page in its ongoing pandemic experiment, in which the studio is releasing movies across different distribution channels with varying windows. Disney Aug. 13 will debut the 20th Century Studios action-comedy Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, across more than 4,100 screens in a 45-day theatrical exclusive. The movie reportedly sold $2.2 million worth of tickets in sneak preview showings Thursday night (Aug. 12).

The film will head to streaming platform Disney+ only after its 45-day theatrical window, unlike other high-profile releases that became available for home viewing concurrently at a premium price. Disney CEO Bob Chapek, speaking on the media giant’s Aug. 12 fiscal call, said the studio going forward would pivot between theatrical exclusives, “Premier Access” VOD and assorted hybrid release strategies on an movie-by-movie basis.

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Recent Disney releases Black Widow and Jungle Cruise, have had concurrent theatrical and Premier Access releases — winning both the box office and lucrative PVOD markets.

Sony Pictures Entertainment is bowing Don’t Breathe 2, the ‘R’-rated low-budget horror-thriller sequel to the 2016 original that generated $26.4 million on its opening weekend. In the current pandemic reality, starring the Delta variant infections spreading throughout the country, the movie is expected to sell no more than $11 million worth of tickets domestically.

Another new release, Respect, a biopic from MGM and United Artists Releasing on the late R&B singer Aretha Franklin, starring Jennifer Hudson, is projected to generate upwards of $10 million.

Last week’s box office topper, The Suicide Squad, is projected to see second-weekend ticket sales plummet, in an ongoing trend among major studio releases. The DC Comics movie is streaming concurrently on HBO Max.

Weekend Box Office Takes on ‘The Suicide Squad’ and Delta Variant

This weekend’s release of The Suicide Squad comes five years and one pandemic since Warner Bros. Pictures released the original Suicide Squad movie.

The standalone sequel also is the latest DC Extended Universe theatrical release since Wonder Woman 84 opened on Christmas Day 2020.

The Suicide Squad, which opens Aug. 6 in theaters and on HBO Max, features a mostly new ensemble cast of anti-superheroes; a new director, James Gunn; and scant holdovers (Margot Robbie as anti-villainess  Harley Quinn, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag) from the original.

Gunn enjoyed commercial and critical success with Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise; thus, social media buzz for The Suicide Squad bow has been high. But August brings with it rising concerns about the Delta variant, which has seen surges in COVID infections and hospitalizations in parts of the country — especially among unvaccinated populations.

Suicide Squad in 2016 debuted to a record August opening box office of $134 million, and ultimately generated global ticket sales of $746.8 million.

But with moviegoers still apprehensive about the pandemic, and The Suicide Squad streaming for free to Max subs, this opening weekend’s box office numbers could generate a fraction ($30 million) of the original, according to industry projections.

An Aug. 1 consumer survey from the National Research Group found 11% fewer respondents than in July (81%) willing to frequent movie theaters due to Delta concerns. Last month, several key counties in the major box office market of California — including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento — reinstituted mandatory masks for indoor activities.

As a result, the domestic weekend box office is expected to generate nearly 20% fewer ticket sales than last weekend’s $75 million, which was driven by Disney’s Jungle Cruise. The Walt Disney Studios release is projected to generate less than $15 million in its second weekend of release, followed by Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow ($3.9 million), Universal Pictures’ Old ($3.8 million), Warner’s Space Jam: A New Legacy ($2.6 million), A24’s The Green Knight ($2.5 million), Focus Features’ Stillwater ($2.4 million), Paramount Pictures’ Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins ($1.8 million), Sony Pictures’ Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($1.3 million) and Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga with $1.2 million.

F9 is also available in consumer homes on PVOD for $19.99, while Black Widow can be purchased for $29.99 until Oct. 6.

‘Old’ is Indeed New as M. Night Shyamalan’s Thriller Tops Quiet Weekend Box Office

Universal Pictures’ Old surprisingly topped the July 25 domestic box office with an estimated $16.5 million ($20 million globally) in ticket sales in another pandemic-affected weekend as infections of the new delta variant spike nationwide.

The horror/thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan, which stars Gael García Bernal and Rufus Sewell, among others, bested Paramount Pictures’ Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins and also exceeded the sophomore weekend take of Warner Bros. Pictures’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring LeBron James.

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Space Jam: A New Legacy, which is concurrently streaming for free to subscribers on HBO Max, finished behind Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow. The superhero movie generated $11.6 million across 4,250 screens to up its North American box office total to $154 million.

Should Old generate less than $50 million at the box office after 17 days, Universal could distribute the title direct-to-consumers via PVOD as part of the studio’s revenue-sharing agreement with AMC Theatres and Regal.

Snake Eyes, the third live-action movie based on the “G.I. Joe” toy line and a reboot of the film franchise, generated a reported $13.3 million across 3,521 screens.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Eyes Return to Box Office Supremacy With ‘Black Widow’ Debut

NEWS ANALYSIS — Disney/Marvel Studios’ oft-delayed superheroine movie Black Widow, staring Scarlett Johansson, July 9 makes its U.S. box office debut — the first time a Marvel title has bowed theatrically in more than two years.

Indeed Disney ended 2019 with a record $11.1 billion global box office, including 33% of the combined domestic theatrical revenue largely due to Marvel movies.

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Black Widow is reportedly projected to generate around $80 million in revenue, starting with the July 8 sneak peak of showings ($13.2 million) across 4,160 screens. It generated close to $22.4 million in international ticket sales entering July 8. Black Widow is also available for $29.99 purchase to Disney+ U.S. subscribers.

Data from Diesel Labs contends Widow has a lot of consumer momentum thanks to the release of three original Marvel series on Disney+, including “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and most recently “Loki.”

Diesel contends nearly 70% of prospective Black Widow moviegoers also watched a Marvel series on Disney+, followed by more than 52% of Netflix streamers.

Almost 13% of Widow fans also streamed an episode of “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston, while 15% of Wonder Woman 1984 moviegoers will see the Marvel release.

Regardless, with Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga still speeding strong, coupled with Paramount Pictures’ enduring post-apocalyptic sequel A Quiet Place Part II, the weekend could be the strongest in the pandemic era.

July 4 Weekend Box Office Projections Favor Universal Pictures

NEWS ANALYSIS — With Universal Pictures set to dominate a second-consecutive domestic weekend box office with F9: The Fast Saga, the studio is rolling out two additional sequel titles over the extended July 4 holiday weekend.

Universal will debut kid-themed animated fantasy The Boss Baby: Family Business and horror sci-fi thriller The Forever Purge. The former is a follow-up to the 2017 box office surprise that generated $528 million globally, including $175 million in the U.S. The studio is estimating holiday weekend ticket sales from $13 million to $23 million — a tally that could see the Alec Baldwin-led voice cast movie head to premium video-on-demand after 17 days if the movie generates less than $50 million at the domestic box office.

Universal has a revenue-sharing agreement with select theater chains aimed at expediting new releases into the higher-margin PVOD direct-to-consumer retail channel.

The Forever Purge, obviously, is targeting a different audience. The fourth installment in the nightmarish-themed concept of an annual 12-hour period of sanctioned lawlessness (to make society safe for the rest of the year) sees it extended indefinitely by a group of marauders.

Universal is betting $6 million to $11 million worth of tickets are sold for the Blumhouse Pictures release before heading to PVOD. That would be less than the $31 million the first two installments each generated over their extended opening weekends. The franchise has generated $285 million over the four previous movies.

Regardless, F9 looks to control the holiday weekend theatrical market, despite a projected 60% drop from its opening $70 million weekend through June 27. The Vin Diesel-led ensemble cast actioner has generated more than $88 million in U.S. theaters and more than $425 million worldwide — the latter since its early May release in China.

Notably, since F9 has already topped $50 million at the domestic box office, the movie is set to bow on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service by July 31 as part of the studio’s revenue-sharing agreement with exhibitors.

Meanwhile, weekend holdovers will be led by Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place Part II with $4.6 million in estimated ticket sales, Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard with $3.3 million, Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway with $3.2 million, and Disney’s Cruella with $2.9 million — the latter also available through digital retailers.