WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Candyman Hooks Better-Than-Expected $22.37M Debut, Knocking Free Guy ($13.56M) From First Place

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy in Candyman. (Copyright © 2020 Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures. All Rights Reserved. CANDYMAN TM MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

Following the debut of four wide-release titles last weekend – only one of which, Paramount’s Paw Patrol: The Movie, did any kind of substantial business – the final weekend of August sees the release of just one new title, Universal’s Candyman sequel/reboot. Despite coming at the tail end of a season that has been filled to the brim with new horror releases, the new installment in the ‘90s franchise easily captured the No. 1 spot at the box office with a robust estimated $22.3M from 3,569 locations. It appears to have sidestepped genre fatigue thanks to largely positive critical reviews, a strong marketing campaign and buzz driven by the attachment of Get Out and Us auteur Jordan Peele, who co-wrote and produced the Nia DaCosta-directed film.

With the exception of A Quiet Place Part II, which opened with a bang over Memorial Day weekend with a $47.55M three-day debut, the latest Candyman iteration is arguably the most anticipated horror release of the summer, serving as a nice bookend to the season. Playing exclusively in theaters, the film’s audience also wasn’t split between theatrical and at-home viewers — as has been the case for a number of recent releases – which boosted its prospects at the multiplex.

Peele’s attachment was certainly important to the film’s success; while Candyman is a well-known property to those old enough to remember the 1992 original, for younger audiences who typically turn out on opening weekend for horror films, it needed a brand name creator like Peele attached in order to stand out. Its success this weekend is partially a testament to the prominent use of Peele’s name in marketing materials.

Candyman’s big debut was driven in large part by Black moviegoers, who made up 37% of the opening-weekend audience. The turnout was nearly evenly split between men and women, 53% to 47%, while young people under 35 made up the bulk of the audience at 76%.

“Audiences are eager to be in theaters where you get that true communal experience, which is very best for the genre. Our word of mouth on the film appears to be very enthusiastic,” Universal’s Jim Orr tells Boxoffice Pro‘s Daniel Loria, citing the film’s daily grosses over the weekend. Candyman dropped 15 percent from Friday to Saturday, but Friday’s earnings included $1.9 million from Thursday’s previews. Removing that $1.9 million from Thursday from the equation, the film’s Saturday was actually 8% above Friday, a bump not often seen with genre films. Orr is enthusiastic about the audience reaction as the film heads into a holiday weekend (Labor Day) for its sophomore frame, where it will continue to play exclusively in theaters. 

Universal has a varied theatrical slate through the end of 2021. It has not pushed back any release dates despite concerns of the Delta Covid-19 variant, with films like musical Dear Evan Hansen (September 24), Halloween Kills (October 15) and animated family title Sing 2 (December 22) remaining on the schedule. 

“We remain optimistic that audiences want to be in theaters and that variants will hopefully burn out so we can continue to head in the right direction,” says Orr. “This is a great first step towards that.”

20th Century Studios’ Free Guy continued holding up phenomenally well this weekend, dipping just 27% to an estimated $13.56M in its third frame, good enough for the runner-up spot. After debuting with a strong-than-expected $28.73M in mid-August, the Ryan Reynolds action-comedy vehicle has proven to be one of the leggiest – if not the leggiest – major studio films of the summer season — a testament to Reynolds’ star power as well as the film’s crowd-pleasing tone. Its total now stands at an impressive $79.3M.

After debuting to a good $13.15M last weekend, Paramount’s Paw Patrol: The Movie fell one spot to No. 3 with an estimated $6.63M, a 50% dip from its opening frame.  The family-geared title based on the kids’ animated TV series has $24.08M after 10 days of release.

Like Free Guy, Disney’s Jungle Cruise has proven to be a sturdy holdover throughout its theatrical run; unlike Free Guy, the family-friendly adventure has been available on Disney+ for a $30 surcharge since opening. In its fifth weekend of release, the Dwayne Johnson-Emily Blunt theme park ride adaptation dropped just 21% to an estimated $5.02M in fourth place, putting it just over the $100M mark domestically.

Don’t Breathe 2 fell to No. 5 in its third weekend with an estimated $2.84M, bringing the Sony follow-up’s total to $24.58M.

Sixth place went to UA/MGM’s Respect, which was made available on VOD this weekend, just two weeks into its theatrical run. The Aretha Franklin biopic grossed an estimated $2.27M in its third frame, bringing its total to $19.74M.

The Suicide Squad finished in seventh place with an estimated $2.04M in its fourth weekend, as the DCEU film nears the end of its disappointing theatrical run. The semi-reboot of 2016’s commercially-successful Suicide Squad has $52.78M to date.

The remainder of the top 10 was made up of three holdovers: Lionsgate’s The Protégé, Searchlight Pictures’ The Night House and Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow, which grossed an estimated $1.65M, $1.22M and $855k. Their respective totals stand at $5.72M, $5.18M and $181.53M.


Free Guy posted a terrific $37.3M from 47 international territories, including a $23.9M No. 1 opening in China, where the film posted increases from Friday to Saturday to Sunday, and sophomore frames of $14.4M in the U.K. and $8.5M in Russia. The studio notes that despite nearly 20% of theaters in the Chinese market remaining closed, the opening was 1% higher than Deadpool 2‘s pre-pandemic. Across previously-opened markets, Free Guy dropped just 23% in its sophomore frame, which included increases in Germany, Austria and Sweden. The film’s overseas total is $100.1M and its global total is $179.6M.

Paw Patrol: The Movie took in an estimated $10.3M from 46 markets (including 8 new openings) in its third weekend internationally, bringing its international total to $37.8M.

Candyman opened to $5.23M in 51 overseas markets, including $1.48M in the U.K. and Ireland, where it debuted in second place.

After grossing another estimated $3.62M this weekend from 65 territories, F9 officially crossed $700M worldwide, making it the first Hollywood film to do so after 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level.

Daniel Loria contributed reporting to this story.

Sunday’s Studio Weekend Estimates:

Friday, August 27 – Sunday, August 29, 2021

Title Estimated weekend % change Locations Location change Average Total Weekend Distributor
Candyman $22,370,000   3,569   $6,268 $22,370,000 1 Universal
Free Guy $13,556,000 -27% 3,940 -225 $3,441 $79,311,280 3 20th Century Studios
PAW Patrol: The Movie $6,625,000 -50% 3,189 5 $2,077 $24,081,280 2 Paramount
Jungle Cruise $5,020,000 -21% 3,370 -205 $1,490 $100,110,182 5 Walt Disney
Don’t Breathe 2 $2,835,000 -44% 2,703 -302 $1,049 $24,579,282 3 Sony Pictures
Respect $2,269,424 -39% 2,607 -600 $871 19,743,000 3 United Artists Releasing
The Suicide Squad $2,035,000 -40% 2,436 -490 $835 $52,778,867 4 Warner Bros.
The Protégé $1,650,000 -43% 2,577 n/c $640 $5,724,237 2 Lionsgate
The Night House $1,218,000 -57% 2,240 n/c $544 $5,179,578 2 Searchlight Pictures
Black Widow $855,000 -23% 1,050 -290 $814 $181,531,407 8 Walt Disney
Old $830,000 -28% 1,136 -411 $731 $46,502,270 6 Universal
Reminiscence $820,000 -58% 3,265 n/c $251 $3,513,503 2 Warner Bros.
The Green Knight $319,669 -44% 552 -273 $579 $16,583,161 5 A24
Stillwater $255,000 -44% 739 -287 $345 $14,041,970 5 Focus Features
The Boss Baby: Family Business $190,000 -7% 585 -409 $325 $56,826,740 9 Universal
F9 $125,000 -43% 537 -320 $233 $172,744,175 10 Universal
Together $102,000   250   $408 $102,000 1 Bleecker Street
Cruella $47,000 -21% 65 -15 $723 $86,016,326 14 Walt Disney
The Forever Purge $35,000 -57% 298 -73 $117 $44,432,775 9 Universal
Summer of Soul $5,000 -41% 12 -8 $417 $2,316,058 9 Searchlight Pictures
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy in Candyman. (Copyright © 2020 Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures. All Rights Reserved. CANDYMAN TM MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)