Friday Report: Universal and M. Night Shyamalan’s Old won the Thursday night preview battle in close with fashion with $1.5 million last night from shows beginning at 7pm in 2,750 domestic theaters. Paramount’s Snake Eyes was close behind with $1.4 million from 2,662 locations (also beginning at 7pm).
Old‘s showing is 25 percent ahead of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions‘ $1.2 million last week (which started at 3pm) and 13 percent ahead of The Forever Purge‘s $1.33 million earlier this month, while also besting July 2019’s Crawl ($1 million) by 50 percent.
Meanwhile, Snake Eyes has no truly useful comparisons yet in the mid-vaccine era of the pandemic, but it’s initial results are within the range of final expectations detailed below. We continue to expect a close race between the two openers this weekend.
Thursday Report: After two consecutive weekends of hybrid releases ruling the box office chart, the penultimate frame of July will serve up two wide releases with varying box office potential and windows of theatrical exclusivity: Universal’s Old and Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.
The former is something of a soft reboot for the G.I Joe franchise with rising star Henry Golding leading the title role of the series’ popular character. Targeted appeal to male audiences is a strength in the current pandemic recovery market which has seen some of its biggest successes driven by those very moviegoers. Naturally, built-in interest and awareness of the brand will be an additional advantage.
Pre-pandemic, it was already likely that Snake Eyes would see diminished returns from prior franchise installments G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The 2009 and 2013 films were led by ensemble casts boasting considerably higher star power (Channing Tatum for Rise and Retaliation with Dwayne Johnson’s presence) when they opened to $54.7 million and $40.5 million, respectively.
Now, the state of the market means Snake Eyes will face even more hurdles — especially coming in the wake of Black Widow and Space Jam: A New Legacy over the past two weekends, both of which are skewing toward male audiences. Snake is considered the slight favorite to win the weekend in its debut given the Hasbro IP’s familiarity across multiple generations of moviegoers, though it is far from a runaway guarantee.
The film is receiving a notable premium large format footprint (shared with this weekend’s other opener) and will enjoy a 45-day exclusive run in theaters before becoming available for Paramount+ subscribers to stream at home.
On the other side of the opening duet, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old will provide the latest horror/thriller in a summer that has been populated by a fair number of them. That’s largely because of their inexpensive nature, minimizing studio risk during this protracted recovery period as moviegoers return to cinemas at varying paces in the late stages of the pandemic. Despite the glut of genre movies, though, Old has sleeper potential to upset the market and win the weekend — but it won’t be easy.
Given the non-franchise nature of the film, comparable titles to Old are few and far between, although it could be argued that Shyamalan himself is the brand being sold here. The filmmaker has enjoyed a career comeback in recent years thanks to the successes of The Visit, Split, and Glass. A non-Night film to set a more appropriate benchmark for might be 2019’s Crawl, which opened to $12 million that July.
Now, the writer-director is back with another ensemble cast of mostly unknown-to-the-masses actors in a genre film that promises a unique concept and unsettling body horror elements in a summer-appropriate, beachside setting. As one of the few major studio original films to open since this year’s box office recovery began in major markets, models for Old showcase a variety of possible outcomes.
The horror genre’s typical reliance upon female audiences is a significant element to consider since women over the 25-35 age range have been the most cautious and strongest holdout among returning moviegoers so far. Notably, The Visit‘s $25.4 million opening weekend back in 2015 was comprised of 60 percent women while 52 percent of the total audience was over the age of 21.
Universal has made no official announcement regarding how long Old will be exclusive to theaters, but it’s worth keeping in mind the re-structured windows for that studio’s movies opening under $50 million at the box office suggest a PVOD release after 17 days is possible. Again, that’s unconfirmed.
Ultimately, walk-up business will be important for both Snake Eyes and Old if either hope to beat expectations by significant margins. Reviews are clocking in at lukewarm levels for both, unfortunately, which is skewing forecasts a bit more south than once hoped for. Snake Eyes stands at 52 percent on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday morning, while Old carries a 45 percent score.
The G.I. Joe prequel is likely to be less impacted by critics, but demand for an original film (where word of mouth will be crucial as well) versus a potentially front-loaded franchise pic with a softer marketing engine (although both had a strong presence during the NBA finals) should make for an interesting race for first this weekend.
Both films will hold Thursday night previews.
On the holdover front, the Space Jam sequel will take a bit of hit after showcasing some frontloading on opening day Friday last week (despite not having any Thursday night shows), but its appeal to families and kids remains a strength with no direct competition for that audience this weekend. While Snake Eyes could pull away some male viewers, it’s a more mature entry to its franchise that might not crossover with Jam‘s audience as much as previous Joe films have.
Jam also doesn’t have a major premium screen presence to lose, so its average ticket prices will remain relatively flat this weekend.
Meanwhile, Black Widow could be in for another tumble this weekend as it does lose most of its premium footprint in IMAX and other venues to Snake Eyes and Old (which will split those shares among them). The Marvel film slid 67.8 percent in its sophomore frame, sharper than Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s 61.6 percent and Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s 62.2 percent in recent Julys. For reference, those fellow MCU films dropped 43.3 percent an 49.9 percent, respectively, in their third frames.
With the big four in mind, this weekend is likely to boast four films grossing over $10 million each for only the second time since February 14 -16, 2020 (a full month before the pandemic shut down movie theaters). The recent June 11 – 13 quartet of A Quiet Place Part II, In the Heights, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway marked the only instance to achieve the same feat since then, combining for nearly $44 million between them.
Not to be forgotten this weekend is the limited release of Roadside Attractions’ Joe Bell at 1,094 domestic locations. The Mark Wahlberg-led drama could be in the running for a top ten finish but may have to contend with the holding prowess of Focus Features’ Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain after its strong $2 million start last weekend.
Another factor, though likely of minor consequence, to consider for all films and consumer viewing habits this weekend will be the start of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday night.
Opener Forecast Ranges
Opening Weekend Range: $13 – 19 million
Domestic Total Range: $35 – 55 million
Opening Weekend Range: $12.5 – 19 million
Domestic Total Range: $25 – 50 million
Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decrease between 11 and 21 percent from last weekend’s $88.6 million top ten aggregate.
|3-Day Weekend Forecast
|Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, July 25
|% Change from Last Wknd
|Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
|Space Jam: A New Legacy
|Warner Bros. Pictures
|Disney / Marvel Studios
|F9: The Fast Saga
|Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
|Sony Pictures / Columbia
|The Boss Baby: Family Business
|The Forever Purge
|A Quiet Place Part II
|Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
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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