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.

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