Horror master Jordan Peele does it again by steering “Candyman” to an easy first place win. The film outperformed its mid to upper teens expectations by grossing $22.4M in one of the last weeks of summer business. Once again, exhibition delivered an outsized gross for a title that was not streamed. “Free Guy”, the other shining star, benefitted from its theatrical exclusive by dropping only 27% in its third week. By grossing $13.6M for the three days this weekend, it has now garnered a very respectable $79M in its first 17 days of release.
With “Candyman” being the seventh horror film released since July 2nd, some thought it would not be able to find an audience. The title benefited by being the only new picture in wide release and Jordan Peele made the most of it by delivering 85% Fresh critics and 74% Fresh audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Overall, this weekend performed at 67% of the same weekend in 2019. This is notable because this weekend in 2019 was Labor Day, historically one of the weakest box office weekends of the year. In fact, studios thought so little of the opportunity in 2019 that not a single picture was put into release over the holiday.
Of course, Labor Day this year will arrive next weekend, marking the unofficial end of summer. There will be a heavy weight face-off between 2019’s “It Chapter Two” and this year’s “Shang- Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, the newest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney decided that it would use this four-day weekend to try an exclusive release to theatres, with a delay before streaming the picture. Is it a fair test when the whole industry knows that Labor Day is a terrible weekend to launch a picture? In both 2017 and 2019, WB took the weekend AFTER Labor Day to launch both “It” and “It Chapter Two”. Even the NFL is taking Labor Day weekend off!