WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Free Guy Surpasses Expectations w/ $28.4M Opening, Ahead of Don’t Breathe 2 ($10.6M) and Respect ($8.8M)

Photo Credits: Quantrell D. Colbert © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved ('Respect'); Alan Markfield. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. ('Free Guy'); Sergej Radovic, ©2021 CTMG, Inc. All rights reserved. ('Don't Breathe 2')

Three new wide releases entered the marketplace this weekend amid increasing concerns about the coronavirus Delta variant, which has thrown a bit of cold water on the summer box office’s latter half. Among the trio of debuts, 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy managed the largest opening with an estimated $28.4M, 29% of which came from premium formats, including IMAX and 3D. The relatively strong opening serves as a testament to star Ryan Reynolds’ strong appeal with moviegoers.

Debuting in 4,165 locations – by far the widest footprint of the weekend’s three new releases – Free Guy came in slightly above expectations, partially owing to an exclusive theatrical release (the film is slated for a 45-day exclusive run in theaters) in an era when day-and-date streaming releases are becoming increasingly common. Encouragingly, the studio reports that the action-comedy increased 24% from Friday to Saturday, which could bode well for its long-term playability, particularly as the summer season winds down and provides a runway for Free Guy to perform without any tentpole releases on the near horizon.

Falling in Free Guy’s favor were fairly strong reviews (it boasts an 82% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and an even better reception from moviegoers, who have lifted its Audience Score on the review aggregator to 95%. It also has an “A” Cinemascore and 4.5/5 overall rating on PostTrak – another encouraging sign for its long-term prospects. This weekend the film did particularly well with men, who made up 59% of the audience, as well young adults, with half of the opening-weekend crowd falling between the ages of 18 and 34.

Sony/Columbia’s Don’t Breathe 2 debuted at the high of expectations in second place with an estimated $10.6M — a testament both to its theatrical exclusivity and leftover audience goodwill from the first film, which debuted with $26.41M in August 2016 before ending its run with an impressive $89.22M domestically off a $10M budget. While nowhere near the opening weekend of the first movie, it’s essentially impossible to compare the theatrical performance of sequels during the pandemic with their pre-COVID predecessors. As it is, this is a decently good if not spectacular start for the film, particularly given the studio’s rather subdued marketing campaign and its appearance at the tail end of a long run of horror films at the summer box office.

Disney’s Jungle Cruise boasted another strong hold in its third weekend of release, dropping just 43% to third place with an estimated $9M. The Dwayne Johnson-Emily Blunt adventure has proven to be a solid four-quadrant performer and bright spot in the summer’s latter half, with a cume to date of $82.1M.

Aretha Franklin biopic Respect opened in fourth place with an estimated $8.8M, putting it at the higher end of expectations heading into the weekend. The UA/MGM title, which stars Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul, benefitted from buzz around Hudson’s performance, perhaps accelerated by Fandango’s special sneak previews of the film last Sunday. [Ed. Note: As of press time, the studio did not provide clarification on whether the opening weekend number included grosses from last Sunday’s Fandango previews.]

Respect received a mixed reception from critics but has been largely embraced by audiences, as evidenced by its “A” Cinemascore and PostTrak ratings of 92% in the top two boxes, including a 77% “recommend” score. The audience was largely female (66% to 34% men) and skewed older, with two-thirds of the opening-weekend crowd over the age of 35, 45% over the age of 45 and 26% over age 55. The film was a particular hit among Black moviegoers, who made up 48% of this weekend’s audience.

After opening at No. 1 with a disappointing $26.21M last weekend, The Suicide Squad plummeted 70% to fifth place in its sophomore frame with an estimated $7.75M. That’s an even sharper drop than the first film in 2016, which fell 67% in its second weekend (albeit after a debuting to a massive $133.68M). The new iteration’s day-and-date release on HBO Max is clearly a factor in its theatrical underperformance, particularly with more and more moviegoers choosing to stay home due to the widespread Delta variant. The Suicide Squad has $42.89M after 10 days of release.

Universal’s Old dropped to sixth place in its fourth weekend with an estimated $2.4M, bringing the total for the M. Night Shyamalan horror film to $42.95M.

Seventh place went to Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow, which grossed an estimated $2M in its sixth weekend. That brings the domestic total for the MCU entry to $178.2M.

Focus Features’ Stillwater came in eighth place with an estimated $1.3M in its third frame, bringing the Matt Damon drama to $12.5M so far.

The Green Knight finished in ninth with an estimated $1.16M, bringing the total for the A24 fantasy to $14.74M through the end of its third weekend.

Rounding out the top 10 was Warner Bros.’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, which took in an estimated $1.11M in its fifth weekend for a domestic total of $68.08M.

OVERSEAS

Free Guy opened to an estimated $22.5M from 14 territories, including $3.4M in the U.K., $2.9M in Russia, $1.4M in Korea and $1.3M in Japan. It’s slated to open in a handful of other markets next weekend, including Spain and Brazil, and also has a Chinese release on the horizon, though the exact date is TBD.

The Suicide Squad grossed an estimated $17M from 70 territories, including a $1.9M opening in Japan, bringing the international total for the reboot to $75.2M and the global cume to $118.1M. The top overseas markets to date including the U.K. ($14.9M), Russia ($7.3M), France ($4.3M), Germany ($3.8M), Korea and Mexico (both $3.5M).

Universal’s F9 grossed an estimated $8.1M in 61 territories, including a $1.77M opening in Taiwan, upping its international tally to $509.34M and its global total to $681.4M.

Jungle Cruise took in an estimated $6.7M from 49 markets. Its international total is now $72.2M and its global total is $154.3M. Top markets to date include the U.K. ($11.7M), Russia ($7.4M), Japan ($6M) and France ($5.1M).

Paramount’s Paw Patrol: The Movie debuted in 6 markets and brought in $5.8M from territories including the U.K. ($3.2M) and France ($2.3M). It’s slated to expand to 33 territories next weekend, including Germany, Mexico, Korea, Japan and the Middle East. The kid-friendly pic opens in U.S. theaters next weekend, with a day-and-date release on the Paramount+ streaming platform.

Don’t Breathe 2 grossed an estimated $3.4M from 23 markets, including $1.5M in Latin America and $650k in Russia. The sequel is slated for release in Germany (August 19), Brazil (September 16), Mexico (September 16), Italy (September 23) and Russia (October 7).


Studio Weekend Estimates: August 13 – August 15, 2021

Title Estimated weekend % change Locations Location change Average Total Weekend Distributor
Free Guy $28,400,000   4,165   $6,819 $28,400,000 1 20th Century Studios
Don’t Breathe 2 $10,600,000   3,005   $3,527 $10,600,000 1 Sony Pictures
Jungle Cruise $9,000,000 -43% 3,900 -410 $2,308 $82,142,554 3 Walt Disney
Respect $8,805,105   3,207   $2,746 $8,805,105 1 United Artists Releasing
The Suicide Squad $7,500,000 -71% 4,019 17 $1,866 $42,634,747 2 Warner Bros.
Old $2,400,000 -42% 2,631 -507 $912 $42,957,640 4 Universal
Black Widow $2,000,000 -49% 2,060 -1,040 $971 $178,199,531 6 Walt Disney
Stillwater $1,300,000 -54% 2,179 -432 $597 $12,542,695 3 Focus Features
The Green Knight $1,163,401 -55% 1,784 -1,014 $652 $14,738,256 3 A24
Space Jam: A New Legacy $1,115,000 -54% 2,869 n/c $389 $68,172,738 5 Warner Bros.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions $670,000 -49% 776 -527 $863 $24,492,838 5 Sony Pictures
Snake Eyes $600,000 -64% 1,035 -1,045 $580 $27,504,205 4 Paramount
F9 $510,000 -58% 1,160 -555 $440 $172,059,065 8 Universal
The Boss Baby: Family Business $420,000 -44% 1,184 -221 $355 $56,056,295 7 Universal
The Forever Purge $205,000 -61% 516 -263 $397 $44,192,280 7 Universal
A Quiet Place Part II $173,000 -47% 419 -101 $413 $159,786,039 12 Paramount
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain $70,000 -60% 126 -142 $556 $5,137,960 5 Focus Features
Cruella $47,000 -65% 95 -53 $495 $8,612,094 12 Walt Disney
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard $34,500 -58% 88 -91 $392 $38,001,444 9 Lionsgate
Summer of Soul $14,000 -41% 26 -16 $538 $2,287,651 7 Searchlight
Raya and the Last Dragon $3,000 -79% 10 -14 $300 $54,724,194 24 Walt Disney
Le cercle rouge $190 79% 1 n/c $190 $58,203 971 Rialto

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