The Biggest Movies Coming to Theaters in July 2021

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It’s the month of Independence Day, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, and (this year only) the NBA Finals. Most importantly for the exhibition industry it’s also the peak month of summer movie season. From animation to horror, superhero to drama, here’s a preview of the biggest films arriving on the big screen in July 2021.


The Boss Baby: Family Business

Friday, July 2

Premise: Alec Baldwin returns to voice Ted Templeton Jr., an infant who doubles as a CEO, in this sequel to 2017’s surprise animated hit The Boss Baby. Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Jeff Goldblum, and Eva Longoria round out the voice cast. 

Theatrical exclusivity? No. Universal will release the film “day and date,” simultaneously in theaters and streaming on Peacock. This will serve as arguably the highest-profile Peacock film to date, as the service—which launched less than a year ago, on July 15, 2020—has mostly focused on television and miniseries content until now.

Box office comparisons: The original The Boss Baby opened to a higher-than-expected $50.1M opening weekend and $175.0M domestic total. That made it the #17 highest-grossing film released in 2017 and the year’s fourth-biggest animated title.

Box office forecast: In Boxoffice Pro‘s most recent long range forecast, chief analyst Shawn Robbins projected a $15M-$35M opening and $45M-$115M domestic total.

One more thing: Between the first and second films, Netflix aired the 49-episode television series The Boss Baby: Back in Business, with JP Karliak voicing the title character instead of Baldwin.


The Forever Purge

Friday, July 2

Premise: The fifth film in the Purge horror franchise takes place in a dystopian version of the United States, in which all crime is legal for one day each year. Let’s just say people don’t spend that day merely tending to their gardens and baking cookies.

Theatrical exclusivity? Yes. Although Universal is releasing two films in cinemas on the same day, virtually unheard-of for a major studio, only this one is exclusively theatrical.

Box office comparisons: The first three films in the franchise earned perpetually higher domestic box office: $64.4M for 2013’s The Purge, then $71.5M for 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy, then $79.0M for 2016’s The Purge: Election Year. The fourth installment, 2018’s The First Purge, declined slightly to $69.8M—although that was a prequel, rather than a continuation of the main story. 

Box office forecast: Shawn Robbins currently projects a $10M-$15M opening weekend and $20M-$35M domestic total, considerably lower than any of the previous four films in the franchise earned.

One more thing: Read Boxoffice Pro‘s 2016 interview with The Purge: Election Year screenwriter and director James DeMonaco here.


Black Widow

Friday, July 9

Premise: After appearing in seven previous Marvel films, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) finally gets her own solo outing in Disney and Marvel Studios’ next Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, a prequel taking place between the character’s appearances in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War

Theatrical exclusivity? No. Disney is releasing the film day-and-date, simultaneously in theaters and for a $30 surcharge to Disney+ subscribers.

Box office comparisons: Another recent solo-female superhero title, December’s Wonder Woman 1984, also opened simultaneously in cinemas and on streaming. It opened to a $16.7M opening weekend theatrically and $46.5M domestically—although North American Covid-19 pandemic fatality numbers were at their peak then and many cinemas were still closed, rendering the comparison inexact.

Marvel’s prior solo-female superhero release, Captain Marvel, debuted to $153.4M and earned $426.8M domestically. Both numbers were on the absolute highest end of expectations, making it the sixth-biggest film released in 2019.

Box office forecast: Shawn Robbins currently projects a $65M-$90M opening, which would make it the biggest pandemic-and-post-pandemic era debut, a mark currently held by F9 with $70M. Robbins also forecasts a $155M-$225M domestic total. 

One more thing: Though unintentional and caused by pandemic-forced release delays, the two year gap since July 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home marks the longest gap between Marvel/MCU films since the franchise’s 2008 inception. Whether this will affect the film’s box office is still to be determined, although Marvel has continued releasing television content in the meantime, including 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and “Loki.”  


Space Jam: A New Legacy

Friday, July 16

Premise: This reimagining of 1996’s Space Jam, in which NBA legend Michael Jordan teamed up with animated Looney Tunes characters for a basketball game, now stars LeBron James—who unquestionably remains the star player of his generation, despite his Los Angeles Lakers getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in early June.

Theatrical exclusivity? No. Warner Bros. will release the film simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.

Box office comparisons: The original Space Jam opened to $27.5M (about $56.9M adjusted for ticket price inflation) and earned a $90.4M domestic total (about $187.0M adjusted). That made it the #18 movie released in 1996.

Box office forecast: Shawn Robbins currently projects a $15M-$30M opening and $45M-$100M total.

One more thing: The original Space Jam‘s 1996 website still exists, rudimentary graphics and all. Check it out here.


Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Friday, July 16

Premise: Sony’s horror-thriller sequel follows up 2019’s Escape Room, about six strangers who must team up to solve puzzles and riddles to complete an escape room, only this time with fatal consequences if they fail.

Theatrical exclusivity? Yes, Sony Pictures will release the film exclusively in cinemas.

Box office comparisons: 2019’s original installment debuted to an $18.2M opening and $57.0M domestic total.

Box office forecast” Shawn Robbins currently projects a $12M-$17M start and $30M-45M total.

One more thing: With the rise of “cinema entertainment centers,” there are some cinemas that now have escape rooms as an additional feature. Don’t worry, we’re referring to the non-fatal kind.  


Old

Friday, July 23

Premise: Director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth SenseGlassSplitSigns) returns to his trademark theme of eerie supernatural thriller, with this tale of a beach on which visitors age an entire lifetime within hours. 

Theatrical exclusivity? Yes. Universal’s Super Bowl commercial for the film ended with the phrase “Only in theaters this summer.”

Box office comparisons: Shyamalan’s last two films, Split and Glass, earned $138.1M and $111.0M domestic, respectively. They started with a nearly-identical $40.0M and $40.3M openings.

Box office forecast: Robbins has not yet provided a public box office forecast but will in the coming weeks. 

One more thing: Shyamalan was inspired to make the film after receiving the graphic novel Sandcastle by Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Lévy as a Father’s Day gift from his daughter.


Snake Eyes

Friday, July 23

Premise: Following the character’s appearances in 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Henry Golding (Crazy Rich AsiansA Simple Favor) stars in the origin story of the mysterious fighter known only as Snake Eyes.

Theatrical exclusivity? Yes. Paramount has committed to giving all their films a theatrical exclusivity window before making them available to stream on Paramount+.

Box office comparisons: The two G.I. Joe films earned $150.2M off a $54.7M opening weekend, then a somewhat-less $122.5M off a $40.5M debut.

Box office forecast: Robbins has not yet provided a public box office forecast but will in the coming weeks. 

One more thing: Among martial arts-themed action films with an Asian-heritage lead, Snake Eyes gets the jump on Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, in theaters September 3. 


Jungle Cruise

Friday, July 30

Premise: Based on the popular ride at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson team up in this fantasy adventure set a century ago.

Theatrical exclusivity? No. Disney is releasing the film simultaneously in theaters and for a $30 surcharge to Disney+ subscribers.

Box office comparisons: Films based on Disney World or Disneyland rides have posted very mixed box office track records. While the five-movies-and-counting Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has proven one of the most successful series of the 21st century, other ride adaptations have been box office disappointments, including 2003’s The Haunted Mansion with $75.8M, 2015’s Tomorrowland with $93.4M, and 2002’s The Country Bears with $16.9M.

Box office forecast: Robbins has not yet provided a public box office forecast but will in the coming weeks. 

One more thing: Blunt’s May release A Quiet Place Part II is currently the highest grossing film of the pandemic-and-post-pandemic era, with $136.3M domestic and counting. If all goes well, she could end up starring in two of the top five films of the summer.


Stillwater

Friday, July 30

Premise: Matt Damon stars as an oil rig worker from Stillwater, Oklahoma who must fight the legal system in France to exonerate his daughter, who’s accused of murdering a woman there. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) directs for Focus Features.

Theatrical exclusivity? Yes.

Box office comparisons? McCarthy’s previous slow-burn drama Spotlight earned $45.0M domestic in 2015-16, en route to the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Box office forecast? Robbins has not yet provided a public box office forecast but will in the coming weeks. 

One more thing: Matt Damon will appear in two movies this month, though only one theatrically; the other is Steven Soderbergh’s July release No Sudden Move for HBO Max.

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