Focus Features accomplished a rare distinction at this weekend’s box office by winning both the the gold and silver medals, as Let Him Go opened atop the chart with $4.00 million and last frame’s leader Come Play took runner-up with $1.7 million. This marks the first time Focus Features has ever accomplished that feat.
When was the last time this happened? Technically it was the April 17, 2020 weekend. But there’s a giant asterisk there, considering the top two titles—IFC Films’s Resistance and Swallow—both earned less than $3,000. The last time a studio doubled up at the top pre-pandemic was the August 16, 2019 weekend, when Universal—owned by NBCUniversal, which also owns Focus Features—opened Good Boys at $21.4 million as holdover Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw made $14.1 million. The last time before that was the April 26, 2019 weekend, when Disney opened Avengers: Endgame with a record $357.1 million as holdover Captain Marvel made $8.3 million.
Tom Bezucha’s thriller Let Him Go, based on the Larry Watson novel of the same name, stars Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as a couple attempting to rescue their grandson from his abusive father. Its $4.0 million start wasn’t actually down too much from several other pre-pandemic mid-budget Costner openings, such as $5.8 million for 2016’s Criminal or $6.2 million for 2008’s Swing Vote.
Last frame’s leader, horror title Come Play, took the runner-up slot by declining only -43 percent. Jacob Chase’s film, about a monster creature who terrorizes a young boy using technology, experienced a relatively mild drop considering its previous frame was Halloween weekend. For comparison, the top horror titles on Halloween weekend 2018 and 2017, Halloween and Jigsaw, fell 65 percent and 60 percent on their respective post-Halloween frames.
Let Him Go and Come Play are also Focus Features’ two best-performing pandemic-era films by miles, earning more in both of their opening weekends than their other post-pandemic releases have earned in their entire runs. September’s Kajillionaire made $531,430, while September’s The Way I See It made $49,030.
Focus’ last pre-pandemic release, February’s historical drama Emma., earned $10.0 million and was still in the box office top 10 on the March 13 weekend, the last before almost all cinemas shut down. Focus’ new release that same frame, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, had the poor luck to debut as a limited release on four screens right before an intended wider expansion that never came to fruition.
Focus Features continues to release films theatrically during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the upcoming comedy Half Brothers on December 4 and the dark comedy thriller Promising Young Woman on December 25. Plus their crime drama Stillwater, while not yet officially dated, is considered a likely late-year release for the awards season.
Click here for our more comprehensive weekend box office report from Sunday.