Weekend Box Office Forecast: Can Black Widow Defend Its Crown Against Space Jam: A New Legacy and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions?

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Black Widow") / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. & Salvatore Totino ("Space Jam: A New Legacy") / Sony Pictures & CTMG & George Amos & Marc Spicer ("Escape Room: Tournament of Champions")

Following another pandemic-best debut from Black Widow last week, the midsummer release slate continues to pick up steam as theatrical recovery builds momentum in North America.

Exhibitors are hopeful that the counter-programming duo of Space Jam: A New Legacy and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions will do just that, but only the former has a clear shot to rival the Marvel film’s sophomore frame — and it could be a close battle. The reopening of theaters in Ontario, even with seating capacities in place, could be mildly significant for openers and holdovers alike as the Canadian province typically represents between a 3 and 5 share of North American box office.

Although Widow experienced a sharp Saturday drop last weekend, Marvel films typically show some stabilization by the second weekend. The impact of the film’s availability on Disney+ for an additional charge is an ongoing factor in this new box office climate, but Widow will at least have the benefit of retaining a large share of premium screens in theaters for at least one more week.

After just five days in domestic release, Widow crossed $100 million on Wednesday and did so in pandemic record time (speeding past F9‘s pace by three days).

Intriguingly, only two of the five previous July MCU releases have held onto first place in their second weekend — those being 2019’s Spider-Man: Far from Home and 2015’s Ant-Man. The latter was a squeaker as the Paul Rudd-led Scott Lang origin story won its sophomore frame with $24.9 million versus the debut of Adam Sandler’s Pixels ($24.0 million). That could be a relevant comparison this weekend given the similar Pixels audience being targeted by the Space Jam revival.

The latest Warner Bros. hybrid release has been trending very well in pre-sales windows while also getting boosts from a strong social media presence thanks to the influencing power of LeBron James and the broader NBA sphere. James alone has more than 141 million combined followers on Instagram and Twitter. In pre-social media days, the 1995 film leveraged the iconic popularity of Michael Jordan in tandem with the generational appeal of Looney Tunes in order to generate what became a cult-classic family film.

Space Jam opened to $27.5 million back in November 1996 before capping off at $90.4 million domestically and $230.4 million globally, figures that A New Legacy could realistically hit on the domestic side. The nostalgia play among adults (now parents) fond of the original movie will need to be met by healthy walk-up business and interest from today’s kids over the weekend.

It’s those latter elements which present more wild cards, especially given the film’s availability for free at home to subscribers of HBO Max. Warner Bros. played a large role in the early recovery efforts of movie theaters during the first half of 2021, but a recent stumble by In the Heights raises the question of whether or not the Space Jam sequel could similarly be prone to inflated pre-sales from fans without significant expansion. The kiddie appeal outside metro and urban areas should prevent any kind of misfire as large as Heights‘, though.

A combined 33 million trailer views from studio YouTube pages suggest outreach to the youth may be notable this weekend. However, some parents remain cautious in their return to theaters since vaccines aren’t yet available for those aged 12 and under, while the Delta variant of COVID-19 remains a concern for the unvaccinated. As such, expectations for Jam this weekend are all over the board. Warner Bros. has not provided official studio expectations.

Meanwhile, Sony goes exclusively into theaters again with Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. The original film was a sleeper hit back in January 2019 as it bowed to $18.2 million onward to a $57 million domestic / $155.7 million global finish — all on just $9 million in production costs.

We expect the horror sequel to succumb to some diminished returns, namely due to the glut of horror films released in a short period this summer and somewhat cooler social media metrics. However, it’s still in a financially low-risk position with just a $15 million budget behind it. Sony expects between $7 million and $8 million this weekend. The PG-13 rating will be friendly to teens and young adults, but it won’t boast much of a premium screen footprint due to larger films in the market.

On Showtimes Dashboard, Black Widow unsurprisingly leads the sampled share of weekend domestic shows with 27 percent, followed by 18 percent for Space Jam: A New Legacy and 11 percent for the Escape Room sequel.

Warner Bros. has not provided any official pre-weekend location counts or premium screen details on Jam, but it will not be holding Thursday previews. The Escape sequel will, beginning at 3pm. (Friday update: Sony reports Tournament of Champions earned $1.2 million from 2,382 locations with shows on Thursday.)

Not to be overlooked this weekend will also be releases from Focus Features and Neon. The former will distribute Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain at 926 locations and has been generating encouraging pre-sales for the genre. A finish among the top ten looks possible based on those trends. Meanwhile, Neon’s Pig will release in approximately 600 theaters (based on Dashboard projections).

Opening Weekend Ranges

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Opening Weekend Range: $7 – 12 million
Domestic Total Range: $18 – 31 million

Space Jam: A New Legacy
Opening Weekend Range: $20 – 30 million
Domestic Total Range: $60 – 105 million

This Weekend vs. Last Weekend

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decrease between 26 and 35 percent from last weekend’s pandemic era record $117.5 million top ten aggregate.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, July 18 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Space Jam: A New Legacy Warner Bros. Pictures $26,400,000 $26,400,000 ~3,950 NEW
Black Widow Disney / Marvel Studios $25,900,000 $131,900,000 4,275 -68%
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Sony Pictures / Columbia $8,800,000 $8,800,000 2,815 NEW
F9: The Fast Saga Universal Pictures $6,600,000 $154,400,000 3,365 -42%
The Boss Baby: Family Business Universal Pictures $4,900,000 $45,000,000 3,443 -45%
The Forever Purge Universal Pictures $3,700,000 $35,700,000 2,725 -48%
A Quiet Place Part II Paramount Pictures $2,300,000 $155,100,000 1,995 -27%
Cruella Walt Disney Pictures $1,400,000 $83,800,000 1,175 -41%
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain Focus Features $1,000,000 $1,000,000 926 NEW
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard Lionsgate $900,000* $36,800,000 1,034 -45%

All forecasts subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or alternative sources.

*revised prior to initial Friday estimates

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios.

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Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Black Widow") / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. & Salvatore Totino ("Space Jam: A New Legacy") / Sony Pictures & CTMG & George Amos & Marc Spicer ("Escape Room: Tournament of Champions")