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.

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