July comes to a close this weekend with a trio of new releases — Jungle Cruise, The Green Knight, and Stillwater — catering to various audiences after last weekend saw mixed results from Old and Snake Eyes.
Once again adding to the volatility of forecasts right now, domestic concerns around the Delta variant of COVID-19 have become more prominent over the past couple of weeks. On Tuesday, the CDC reversed its previous May announcement and recommended that vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors. Without mandates in place, though, that’s leading to some questioning from experts and people in general as to what this latest guidance means as virus cases climb again among the unvaccinated.
How does all of this impact moviegoing? That’s something the next few weeks may tell us.
While some have pointed to last weekend’s underwhelming debuts as evidence that audiences are already shying away from theaters again, it’s too soon to tell. The openers were poorly reviewed and had fair amounts of baggage attached to them from the get-go, a number of films continued to enjoy healthy holds last weekend (F9 declined just 37 percent despite new, direct competition), and of course, streaming availability for films like Black Widow and Space Jam: A New Legacy continue to alter post-opening consumer habits for those realizing they can save money watching some of these films at home.
Rather, last weekend simply qualifies as part of the ebb and flow expectation predicted throughout this long box office recovery period. It was inevitable that the declining quality of content would result in weaker box office performances after several bright spots and benchmarks this summer, and that came to fruition last week.
Cautiously, though, it’s also wise to prepare for continued slow-downs if Delta concerns and resumption of masking do indeed stall box office recovery again in the short term. Even if they don’t have a profound impact in the long term, the release slate runs low on four-quadrant blockbusters until September and October.
With that analysis in mind, here’s a breakdown of what to expect from this weekend’s new releases.
- Jungle Cruise boasts some of the best star power of any film to open during the pandemic so far with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in the lead. Johnson, of course, has powered many a standalone and franchise film to strong box office performances and he continues to be a draw among men and women. Blunt is fresh off the resounding symbolic and financial success of A Quiet Place Part II earlier this summer, further bolstering her ever-increasing appeal to casual audiences and movie fans alike.
- Cruise‘s marketing footprint has reached far and wide thanks to promotion during major sporting and television events this summer, on top of it’s built-in IP awareness — vis-à-vis, the Disney theme park ride. Reviews are healthy for a family adventure film, with many critics referencing its comparability to modern classics like Pirates of the Caribbean and 1999’s The Mummy as similar crowd-pleasers.
- Cruise‘s pre-sales and social media tracking models are exceeding those of Cruella and Space Jam: A New Legacy, a particularly encouraging stat given the lack of any pre-existing franchise movie lead-in for Cruise. With appeal to men and women of virtually all ages, it has the potential to over-perform expectations this weekend with its big screen-friendly adventure premise. The film will enjoy a presence at 390 IMAX auditoriums, over 825 PLF screens, 1,300 3D locations, and 230 specialty D-Box and 4DX auditoriums.
- A24’s The Green Knight has been the recipient of strong pre-sale activity as indie and art house fans drive demand for what could be a sleeper hit this weekend and one of the year’s early award season contenders. Strong reviews bode well, and past A24 summer releases like Hereditary and Midsommar have proven how capable the studio is at delivering a box office hit even in a highly competitive market.
- Appeal to young adults should be another strength for Green Knight as they remain a driver in the current moviegoing climate. Despite sharply rising COVID cases among the youth, they’re still a demographic most willing to venture back into public and indoor settings right now.
- Focus Features has been a staple of specialty releases during the pandemic, and Stillwater has been given their biggest marketing push yet. Star Matt Damon and Spotlight director Tom McCarthy make for strong selling points to attract adult audiences not interested in either of the weekend’s other releases, while appeal to men specifically could be an advantage as similar films have attracted that base to theaters during the pandemic.
- Once again, Disney is experimenting with its day-and-date hybrid model on Jungle Cruise as the film releases Friday on streaming for an additional $30 to Disney+ subscribers. With parents and those over 35 being among the most hesitant to come back to theaters so far, coupled with the lack of eligibility for kids under 12 to be vaccinated, much of the family audience will likely choose the bargain discount method of watching this film at home right now. As prior day-and-date releases have shown this summer, that will almost certainly cut into box office potential — which, pre-pandemic, had Jungle Cruise forecast north of a $50 million domestic opening as part of an exclusively theatrical release.
- The Green Knight hasn’t had the kind of blanket media marketing spread as the other major studio films opening this weekend, so awareness is likely hyper-targeted to those who have followed A24 and the film’s road through production and ultimate release. The film also has a 20-day exclusive window to theaters.
- Stillwater‘s reviews are mixed for the genre, which may dampen demand to see it in theaters. Doubling down on that disadvantage is the fact that, as mentioned, adults remain the most cautious to get back in theaters. This might ultimately be the kind of movie some of them wait to see at home right now as it’s expected to become available via PVOD in just 17 days as part of parent studio Universal’s new windowing structure.
- In general, a close eye should be kept on openers and holdovers alike this weekend as the aforementioned Delta variant concerns become more prevalent for some potential patrons.
Opener Forecast Ranges
Opening Weekend Range: $25 – 35 million
Domestic Total Range: $75 – 135 million
The Green Knight
Opening Weekend Range: $7 – 12 million
Domestic Total Range: $20 – 40 million
Opening Weekend Range: $2 – 7 million
Domestic Total Range: $7 – 25 million
Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will increase between 5 and 15 percent from last weekend’s $67.1 million top ten aggregate.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, August 1||Location Count||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Jungle Cruise||Walt Disney Studios||$30,000,000||$30,000,000||4,310||NEW|
|The Green Knight||A24||$9,600,000||$9,600,000||~2,700||NEW|
|Black Widow||Disney / Marvel Studios||$6,500,000||$167,000,000||3,360||-44%|
|Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins||Paramount Pictures||$5,200,000||$23,500,000||3,540||-61%|
|Space Jam: A New Legacy||Warner Bros. Pictures||$4,900,000||$61,000,000||~3,600||-49%|
|F9: The Fast Saga||Universal Pictures||$2,900,000||$168,800,000||2,336||-40%|
|Escape Room: Tournament of Champions||Sony Pictures / Columbia||$2,100,000||$20,400,000||2,086||-40%|
|The Boss Baby: Family Business||Universal Pictures||$1,700,000||$53,700,000||1,863||-40%|
All forecasts subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or alternative sources.
Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios.
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