FREE GUY wins the weekend with the $28.4M, outperforming industry expectations ($14M -$17M) by over $11M. By not streaming day and date, every dollar the film earned was generated at box offices, demonstrating resilience in the face of anxiety about the spread of COVID’s Delta variant. A Morning Consult survey indicated that only 46% of the general population was comfortable with going to a movie theatre, the third consecutive week that this number has declined and the second week it registered below 50%. The fact that FREE GUY did so well despite a resurgent COVID is a boost to the morale of exhibitors, desperate to show that theatres can still launch a picture successfully on their own.
The other major openers this weekend were also not streamed. Finishing second was DON’T BREATHE 2 with $10.6M, which met industry expectations. RESPECT finished fourth with $8.8M, on the low side of expectations. THE SUICIDE SQUAD suffered a huge 70% drop this weekend, even after an opening last weekend which was widely considered to have been a disappointment.
Another positive note was the fact that this weekend’s total box office came in at 62% of the same weekend in 2019. This represents the second highest comp in 2021 when measured against 2019. With day and date streaming not a factor, theatres delivered encouraging results, a plus for exhibitors who have been starved for positive news.
Next week, studios will be launching four new wide opening pictures, in an attempt to reach the widest possible audience with quantity and variety. The box office for REMINISCENCE (PG-13), PAW PATROL (G), THE PROTÉGÉ (R) and THE NIGHT HOUSE (R) will benefit when streaming takes a holiday once again. However, seven pictures opening in a two week span will test mightily the depth of the audience. While this variety of films works for those exhibitors who have many screens to spread them out, it’s not the ideal scenario for Studios.