Free Guy’s outperformance resulted in the 33rd weekend of 2021 reaching 60% of the gross from the same weekend in 2019. This brought the trailing four week run rate back up to 49% when compared with the same four weeks in 2019. It also shortened the timeline when exhibition will reach 75% of its 2019 levels, on track to arrive in January 2022. The comparison of 2021-2019 third quarter results stands at 48%. After the first three months of the year, the 2021 results were only 11% of the same period in 2019, and after the first six months 2021 had risen to 25% of 2019 levels. While this shows steady growth, and Q3 has been decent so far, a year to date comparison has only clicked up to 27%, showing just how far the industry has fallen off during the pandemic.
Over the next few weeks, this year’s comps look favorable compared with 2019, which had a dismal performance in August. Labor Day Weekend is the next battle ground, with this year’s Shang- Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings going up against the 2019 release of IT 2 which earned $97M in its opening four days. 14 days out, advance sales of Shang-Chi appear to be brisk but some wonder whether the film has more of an East /West coast market, in cities where a relatively higher percentage of Asian-American audiences live. Marvel films have shown strength in the past by having a wide appeal that grossed throughout North America. Shang-Chi cannot keep up with IT 2 unless it gets strong support across the South and Middle America. The fact that Disney has chosen to hold it back from streaming until 45 days after its theatrical release will also give Shang -Chi a chance to reach its full box office potential.