For the first time since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March 2020, the top 10 films (on a 3-day basis) are set to gross well over $1M+ each.
It may not sound like a big deal, but it is, because it finally demonstrates depth and breadth at the box office and a rebuild of the business. While that’s good news, the big screen business isn’t completely back just yet.
Canada’s B.O. capital, the Ontario province, which generates 40% of the country’s theatrical ticket sales, remains closed, with LA’s indie jewel Hollywood Arclight shuttered until TBD, and small town cinemas also closed.
Over 4-days, the total July 4th box office is expected to gross an estimated $109.2M, per sources, an improvement on the Memorial Day 4-day weekend, which posted $98.3M, juiced by Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II. However, juxtapose that next to the July 4th 4-day weekend of 2010, the last time the holiday fell on a Sunday, and we’re off 56% from that frame’s $250.4M (when Twilight Saga: Eclipse led with $83.6M).
Remember, theaters were originally expected to have Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick this weekend. However, with a multitude of offshore markets being in a funk, Paramount relocated the Tom Cruise movie for the Thanksgiving period (Nov. 19). Also, it still helps to spread these tentpoles out, and having Top Gun 2 sandwiched between F9 and Black Widow this coming Friday wasn’t ideal. Even with Black Widow on Disney+ Premier and in theaters next weekend, the domestic box office is only expected to improve, as industry estimates are projecting at least $80M or more on that long-awaited MCU title. Presales on Black Widow are expected to eclipse F9‘s first weekend pre-sales this coming week.
Business will take a dive today in the 30%-40% range from Saturday, as many finally enjoy the 4th of July they didn’t have last year during lockdown. Monday will rebound over Sunday by an average of +25% for the top ten movies.
While we don’t have a tentpole of Twilight magnitude, we have Universal’s combo of a second-weekend holdover and two wide releases in F9, The Boss Baby: Family Business and The Forever Purge, which combined are expected to ring up $71.7M over four days.
Exclaimed Universal Domestic Distribution Boss Jim Orr about the studio’s July 4th juggernaut, “This weekend epitomizes the strengths of Universal. We have some of the very best franchises in the history of the industry, as proven by the success of F9 The Fast Saga in its debut last week and the strong hold this weekend, as we also very successfully open films from our tremendous partners at Dreamworks and Blumhouse, delivering audiences the most diverse slate in the industry.”
F9 crossed $100M on Friday, its 8th day of release, with $8.2M (-72% from last Friday)– the fastest pic to that benchmark during the pandemic. The Justin Lin-directed sequel is set to raise its running total near $126M by Monday, after a 3-day of $24M (-66%), and 4-day of $32.7M at 4,203 locations. Imax auditoriums earned $2.2M over 3-days and $2.6M over 4-days for F9, taking the large format’s domestic total on $9.1M.
Uni’s DreamWorks Animation sequel Boss Baby: Family Business did $7.7M on Friday, including Thursday previews of $1.3M, and is shaping up for a $17.36M 3-day, $23M 4-day. Again, the whole Peacock availability isn’t stealing from the box office. I’ve heard from sources in the know the streaming service is a disaster, and this was a means to prod an increase in subscribers.
Uni commits to spending on theatrical P&A, and that is clearly showing in the weekend results here. And no, there’s no hesitation out there by family audiences to head out to the cinema: Sony didn’t spend to pull people in on the opening weekend of Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (which only opened to $10.1M). There’s also somewhat of a love here for the snarky toddlers in the DWA IP. CinemaScore was an A, which is higher than the first 2017 movie, which notched an A-.
No, Boss Baby isn’t Shrek in regards to pumping its opening numbers higher on its sequels. But the 66% falloff between part 2’s start here and the original 2017 movie is to be expected on a younger skewing property, i.e. the difference between the opening weekends of Sony’s Smurfs and Smurfs 2 was -50%.
Audience exits on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak were lower than CinemaScore at 74% positive and a 49% recommend for general audiences, while kids under 12 graded it slightly higher at 79% positive and a 62% recommend. Demos through Saturday wound up being nearly split between females and males, 51% to 49%. Sixty-four percent of the pic’s audience was under 25, with half of the pic’s audience being under 12. Diversity demos were 43% Caucasian, 25% Latino, 20% Black, & 12% Asian/other. Boss Baby 2‘s business was most notable in the East, Midwest, and South Central. Top ten markets for Boss Baby 2 were LA, NYC, Dallas, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta.
The studio’s Blumhouse fifthquel The Forever Purge saw $5.7M on Friday, including $1.3M Thursday previews, and a 3-day of $12.75M and 4-day of $15.86M. An erosion in grosses is organic on a long-running horror series of this kind, the Purge movies now being eight years old. On a 3-day basis, Forever Purge‘s debut is -27% from First Purge‘s (granted, that movie had a Wednesday start heading into a 5-day Independence Day weekend in 2018).
Forever Purge, written and produced by the franchise’s architect, James DeMonaco, received a B- score from CinemaScore audiences, which is on par with the last movie, 2018’s First Purge. 2016’s Purge: Election Year received the highest audience grade in the series with B+. Forever Purge was tracking at $4.4M midday on Friday and then saw a huge surge last night reflective of pre-Covid-19 audience trends on a Friday.
PostTrak exits were 72% positive, with a 53% recommend and a 52% male turnout, 54% under 25, with close to 40% between 18-24. Forever Purge‘s guy turnout in regards to share was greater than the opening weekends of Conjuring 3 (47%), A Quiet Place 2 (45%), and even The First Purge (49%). Best markets were in LA, NYC, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Philly, Phoenix, Atlanta and Sacramento. Hispanic audience hubs such as El Paso, San Antonio, and Albuquerque were potent yielding a very diverse crowd of 39% Caucasian, 25% Latino, 25% Black, and 11% Asian/other.
RelishMix observed heading into Purge Forever‘s opening weekend that its social media universe approached pre-pandemic norms with 78.4M, supported by the Blumhouse’s social media universe of 1.1M fans/followers and Purge pages at 3.1M.
Horror spikes late on social before a pic’s opening, and fueling the fire was a dozen clips over the last week on Facebook. The trailer per Uni has generated 60M views to date since launching on May 12. The studio leaned heavily into promoting the pic on social media on TikTok where fans spread the word, as well as with the launch of a Snapchat lens that saw Purge elements emerge around the user as they watch the trailer along with a first-commercial Snap integration and a custom Twitter emoji.
A24’s Zola grossed a low estimated at $1.23M, and 4-day of $1.65M, for an all-in 5-day run of $2M and 6-day of $2.4M. While not spectacular for this $5M production, it’s some form of a baseline for the top 10’s hum.
Zola was notable on the coasts, with some OK numbers in NY, LA, Austin, and Atlanta, where I hear there were some sellouts. However, 20% of Zola’s 1,468 theater count generated the majority of the pic’s weekend gross, which isn’t good.
Essentially, there was a divide between critics and moviegoers here: While Zola had the best reviews among wide entries this weekend at 87% certified fresh, it’s in great contrast to PostTrak figures at 68% positive and a low 46% definite recommend. Females showed up at 59%, with 72% between 18-34.
Diversity demos were 42% Caucasian, 26% Latino, 24% Black and 8% Asian/other. What’s clear here is that outside of family movies, older females (35+) are still hesitant about heading out to the box office (either that or there really isn’t anything for them in the Bridesmaids or Girls Trip sense-of-the-draw). Some believe that given the target demo of this movie, A24 should have platformed the title and expanded after the holiday to get the young folk.
That’s one way to look at it. However, the distributor had to know that the word-of-mouth wasn’t there, given the lackluster reaction from crowds, and hence the best path for this movie is a fast theatrical window, and into PVOD.
For a movie based on a Twitter thread by A’ziah “Zola” King, which spawned the Rolling Stone, RelishMix noticed that Zola had a very small social media following, with 3.3M across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube subs. The analytics corp also noticed that there were 3.2M views for the trailer tied to the pic’s social media universe. RelishMix noticed that the original Twitter thread is private, but King has published the thread in a book entitled The Thotyssey tied to the pic. Stars Riley Keough and Taylour Paige are supporting the movie heavily on their social media channels, which combined across Twitter and Instagram are respectively are 450K and 535K.
The following video generated 30K views on Paige’s Instagram and over 25K on Keough’s.
Searchlight’s Sundance acquisition documentary Summer of Soul, booked at 752 theaters, drew $250K on Friday, including $78K+ Thursday night previews, for what looks to be a 3-day of $650K and 4-day of $805K. The Questlove-directed feature is also available to watch on Hulu. Not a powerful turnout I’m advised, however, the El Capitan in Hollywood did over $8K on Friday with some notable runs in Harlem, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Final Sunday studio-reported numbers:
- F9 (Uni) 4,203 theaters (+24), Fri $8.26M/Sat $9.26M/Sun $6.48M/Mon $8.75M/3-day $24M (-66%)/4-day: $32.75M/Total: $125.9M/ Wk 2
- Boss Baby: Family Business (Uni) 3,644 theaters, Fri $7.7M/Sat $5.3M/Sun $4.26M/Mon $5.7M/3-day $17.36M/4-day and total $23.07M/Wk 1
- Forever Purge (Uni) 3,051 theaters , Fri $5.7M/Sat $4.1M/Sun $2.88M/Mon $3.1M/3-day $12.75M /4-day and total $15.86M/Wk 1
- A Quiet Place Part II (Par) 2,826 (-298) Fri $1.485M/Sat $1.66M/ Sun $1.08M/Mon $1.35M/3-day: $4.22M (-32%)/4-day: $5.57M/Total: $145.7M/Wk 6
- Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (LG) 2,582 (-779) theaters Fri $980K/Sat $1.23M/Sun $786K/Mon $900K/3-day $3M (-38%)/4-day $3.9M/Total $32.2M/Wk 3
- Cruella (Dis) 2,380 (-440) theaters Fri $865K (-23%)/Sat $975K/Sun $716K/3-day $2.55M (-32%)/4-day $3.2M/Total $77.2M/Wk 6
- Peter Rabbit 2 (Sony) 2,954 (-377) theaters Fri $860K/Sat $800K/ Sun $590K/ Mon $800K/3-day $2.25M (-53%)/4-day $3.05M/Total: $35.2M/Wk 4
- Conjuring 3 (NL) 1,716 (-952) theaters Fri $480K/Sat $505K/Sun $305K/Mon $320K/3-day $1.29M (-57%)/4-day $1.6M/Total $62.5M/Wk 5
- In the Heights (WB) 1,405 (-998) theaters Fri $400K/Sat $500K/Sun $375K/Mon $410k/ 3-day: $1.275M (-43%), 4-day: $1.685M/Total: $27.3M/Wk 4
- Zola (A24) 1,468 theaters, Fri $445K/Sat $460K/Sun $325K/Mon $422,5K/3-day $1.23M/4-day: $1.65M/5-day: $2M /6-day: $2.4M Wk 1