Friday, July 2 Update: Universal reports this morning that The Forever Purge earned $1.33 million from Thursday night previews in 2,550 domestic theaters. Showtimes began at 7pm. By comparison, The First Purge earned $2.5 million during a Tuesday night start back in 2018, while 2016’s The Purge: Election Year posted $3.64 million Thursday previews ahead of July 4th weekend.
Meanwhile, The Boss Baby: Family Business wasn’t far behind with $1.31 million earned from 2,700 locations whose shows began at 4pm yesterday. That exceeded Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway‘s $900K start a few weeks ago, while landing behind The Secret Life of Pets 2‘s $2.3 million back in June 2019.
All comparisons to pre-pandemic titles come with heavy asterisks, of course, and the holiday weekend ahead may skew initial projections even more. Read below for our prior weekend analysis and forecast.
Thursday, July 1 Report: Universal achieved the biggest domestic box office opening in 18 months with F9‘s debut last week, and now the studio hopes to command the top three weekend spots over Independence Day weekend with the release of The Boss Baby: Family Business and The Forever Purge.
F9 should easily remain in the top spot during its sophomore frame even when considering the franchise’s frontloaded nature. As part of its $70 million debut, the film slid 25 percent on Saturday and just 20 percent on Sunday — in line with pre-release expectations. Its current trajectory indicates a second weekend drop of at least 60 percent will be in store, potentially upward of 70 percent due to the skewed holiday frame (which should, in turn, boost many grosses on Monday when the holiday is federally observed).
For reference, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious slipped 61 percent and 2019’s Hobbs & Shaw declined 58 percent in their respective second frames.
As mentioned, Universal is pushing two more new releases into the summer marketplace this weekend, but with very different strategies behind them. A24 is also sending Zola into semi-wide release at 1,468 theaters in hopes of capturing attention from the indie market, while Searchlight Pictures will distribute Summer of Soul at 752 locations.
Calendar alignment is an intriguing consideration this weekend as the Fourth of July holiday in the United States hasn’t landed on a Sunday since 2010 when The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and The Last Airbender bowed mid-week as part of a long weekend. In this still-rebounding market, it’s challenging to expect similar trends as that year when most holdovers experienced sharped drops due to both the openers and the holiday timing.
With limited, fresh high profile content and moviegoers continuing to return at increasing rates, a number of films could post solid retention earnings this weekend. This weekend also has a chance to see the entire top ten comprised of films earning at least $1 million over the three-day frame, something that hasn’t happened since March 13 through 15, 2020 (the final weekend before theatrical shutdowns).
This week’s new release breakdowns, followed by the holiday weekend forecast:
The Boss Baby: Family Business
Opening Weekend Range: $13 – 23 million
Domestic Total Range: $40 – 80 million
- 2017’s original film was something of a sleeper hit as it bowed to $50.2 million in North America, eventually cashing out at $175 million (part of a $528 million global haul).
- The return of Alec Baldwin in the lead voice role, as well as Amy Sedaris and Jeff Goldblum, provide appealing star attractions for parents once again.
- Although few animated releases have hit theaters during the pandemic, the ones that have largely provided key support for exhibition as audiences came out and made movies like The Croods: A New Age, Tom & Jerry, and Raya and the Last Dragon among the most successful during the worst months of the pandemic and nascent stages of recovery.
- Very little competition for families with young kids in the current marketplace should be advantageous for the sequel. It will also share premium screens in many theaters alongside F9.
- The shift to a hybrid release model has complicated box office forecasts, especially when considering this is a first for the Peacock service and a high profile theatrical release. There will inevitably be some cannibalization of the box office performance.
- Peter Rabbit 2‘s softer-than-hoped-for opening a few weeks ago brings into question the eagerness of parents to bring young kids back to the movies in recently re-opened markets since those under 12 aren’t eligible for vaccines yet.
- Many families looking to spend the holiday weekend with friends and loved ones for their first Fourth of July celebrations in two years may diminish upfront demand.
The Forever Purge
Opening Weekend Range: $6 – 11 million
Domestic Total Range: $14 – 26 million
- Through four films, this Blumhouse horror/thriller franchise has exceeded all expectations with more than $285 million grossed domestically on combined budgets of just $35 million before marketing.
- As a theatrically exclusive release, there will be no at-home streaming component on opening weekend to diminish initial box office performance.
- Remaining in tune with the times, this film again plays on the tense political climate of the real world, an element that should prove attractive to the core fan base.
- Given the recent success of A Quiet Place Part II and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, horrors and thrillers are so far (mostly) living up to the predictions that the genres would be key players in the short- and long-term of box office recovery from the pandemic shutdowns.
- Genre franchises tend to peak after a handful of sequels. There had been natural questioning if this entry would showcase diminished returns even before the pandemic forced its delay from last summer. The previous film, 2018’s The First Purge opened to $31.3 million in five days (compared to 2016’s The Purge: Election Year which posted a near-identical $31.5 million in just three days).
- The muted performance of Spiral: From the Book of Saw in May further highlights the potential of franchise fatigue for long-drawn genre series such as The Purge, while also bringing into question the mood of moviegoers right now after the tragedies, controversies, and challenges of the past two years. Is the kind of film anyone outside the most niche core of the franchise’s base is willing to turn out and see right now?
- Pre-sales didn’t kick off until late in the pre-release window, but initial trends have been reflective of Spiral‘s pre-release demand and trended very front-loaded toward Thursday night previews. The franchise is prone to healthy walk-up business, but despite the studio’s expectations of at least $10 million (and our own previous $10 million to $15 million range), we’re now bracing for potential under-performance.
- Overall, marketing penetration and social media footprints are considerably below those of prior Purge movies.
Bottom Line: Barring an upset, F9 is the favorite to win its second domestic box office frame as the United States celebrates Independence Day this weekend. Universal is going a step further by providing a variety of content for returning audiences with the release of The Boss Baby: Family Business and The Forever Purge on a weekend that will likely represent the calm before a storm when Black Widow debuts on July 9.
This Weekend vs. Last Weekend
Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decrease between 27 and 37 percent from last weekend’s $97.1 million top ten aggregate, which represented a pandemic era record.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, July 4||Location Count||% Change from Last Wknd|
|F9: The Fast Saga||Universal Pictures||$25,000,000||$118,000,000||4,203||-64%|
|The Boss Baby: Family Business||Universal Pictures||$16,300,000||$16,300,000||3,640||NEW|
|The Forever Purge||Universal Pictures||$9,600,000||$9,600,000||3,051||NEW|
|A Quiet Place Part II||Paramount Pictures||$4,600,000||$144,800,000||2,826||-26%|
|The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard||Lionsgate||$3,300,000||$31,800,000||2,582||-32%|
|Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway||Sony Pictures / Columbia||$3,200,000||$35,400,000||2,954||-33%|
|Cruella||Walt Disney Pictures||$2,900,000||$77,000,000||2,380||-24%|
|The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It||Warner Bros. Pictures||$1,500,000||$62,300,000||~1,700||-50%|
|In the Heights||Warner Bros. Pictures||$1,200,000||$26,600,000||~1,375||-46%|
All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or alternative sources.
*revised upon studio confirmation of weekend location count
Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios.
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