(Photo by © Warner Bros. Pictures)
It is hard to look at this weekend’s numbers – with A Quiet Place Part II eking out top spot with $11.7 million over In the Heights‘ $11.4 million – and not consider this a setback for the box office in many ways. Though none of the fault lies with the theaters themselves: Chicago opened up to full capacity on Friday and other cities are doing the same. Perhaps, after 15 months indoors, folks have reevaluated their necessity to see certain movies in theaters, especially when those movies are available to them at home on the same day. This appears to be another weekend where Warner Brothers’ deal with HBO Max to release movies simultaneously in theaters and at home may have kept another one of their own from being the success it was expected to be.
How much would director Jo M. Chu’s In the Heights have realistically made had it opened last year? Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians began with $26.5 million in a mid-August slot without major star power in 2018, but tapped into excitement over its celebration of cultures and communities often left out of traditional mainstream rom-coms. In the Heights finally hit theaters after a lengthy pandemic-related delay with a similar pedigree, the addition of a musical element courtesy of one of the most praised lyricists in modern times (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a Certified Fresh Tomatometer Score of 96% (even higher than Crazy Rich Asians’ 91%), and a prime release slot just as the box office was beginning to show signs of life. Yet, it finished in second at the box office this weekend with $11.4 million, less than half of what Crazy Rich Asians opened to.
Now ask yourself: What would In the Heights have realistically done this year had it not also been available on HBO Max? It is a more than fair question, and much fairer than simply pointing at what many consider to be an under-performing number. And in some ways it is a question that Warner Brothers, the studio behind In the Heights, essentially posed to moviegoers against the studio’s own interests: “Is this a movie that I need to see in theaters? Because there is another option…” It’s the same question people have asked themselves for years and it can have a multi-week deliberation: On opening weekend most have already decided to see a movie or not; the week after they may decide to see it because someone they trust told them they have to. But now they have the option of staying home and watching it when word-of-mouth hits.
And if somewhere between $20 million and $25 million was a realistic expectation for In The Heights this weekend – which was what some pundits were predicting – it is reasonable to assume that some of those who were excited for the movie did not want to wait to get to a theater and spend an additional $10-$20 for one movie when they have already shelled out a $15 subscription for a whole month of readily-available entertainment. If F9 puts up some serious numbers in two weeks’ time – it is coming out exclusively in theaters – could Warner Brothers start thinking of going back on their promise to deliver The Suicide Squad, Dune, and The Matrix 4 both in theaters and on HBO Max? F9 has grossed over $268 million internationally so far.
(Photo by © Sony Pictures Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection)
The returns for Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway are another indication that families are just not returning in full force to theaters – yet. Discounting Cruella as a “family” film with its odd PG-13 rating, Peter Rabbit 2 is the second sequel in as many weeks – along with Spirit Untamed – that looks like it will not even match the pandemic highs of The Croods: A New Age, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Tom & Jerry. A $10.4 million start for a summertime sequel to a film that opened in February 2018 to $25 million (and finished with over $115 million) is not good by any metric. Especially when those other films opened during the pandemic respectively to $9.7 million (Thanksgiving weekend 2020), $8.5 million (March 2020), and $14.1 million (February 2020). Right now this is more dire news for family films in general than it is for Rabbit Deux, given its budget is only $45 million and it has already taken in over $58 million overseas alone. So Sony may still be just fine with this one. But what will be the big family breakout? The Boss Baby: Family Business is going to be streaming day-and-date on Peacock, and Space Jam: A New Legacy will be available on HBO Max when it hits theaters. It may be falling to Sony again with Hotel Transylvania: Transformania to prove the family box office still has life when that film releases on July 23.
(Photo by Jonny Cournoyer / © Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
It finally happened! Mark the date because on June 11, 2011, A Quiet Place Part II became the first film to reach $100 million at the domestic box office since February 23, 2020 when Sonic the Hedgehog did it on its 10th day of release. John Krasinski’s sequel reclaimed the top spot this weekend and took 15 days to reach $100 million while Godzilla vs. Kong has been out in theaters for 75 days (and was available for the first month on HBO Max) and is still chasing the milestone. It is going to get there for the silver medal but how much more help could theaters have received if it had been an exclusive? Would it have inspired even greater confidence in box office viability? All questions that A Quiet Place Part II does not have to answer since, with another $11.7 million this weekend, it keeps itself on pace for possibly over $140 million.
Overall, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It did not have a bad week. It dropped nearly 59% this weekend to $10 million and has $43.8 million in the bank despite a concurrent run on HBO Max. There was a film with similar numbers to these all the way back in 1995: It opened to $24.6 million (Conjuring 3 began with $24.1 million), then fell 56.6% in week two to $10.7 million and had earned $44.5 million at the end of its second weekend, and ultimately finished with just over $81 million. That film was Congo, and all-in-all, Congo numbers would not be bad for Conjuring 3. It would be enough to keep it from being the lowest-grossing film in the Conjuring Universe – Annabelle Comes Home grossed $74.1 million – and is about on par for how we expect sequels to perform: $136 million for the original, $102.5 million for the first sequel, and (possibly) $81 million for the latest film. Would no HBO Max have gotten it to $100 million? Well, let’s see if it gets to $70 million-$75 million first.
(Photo by ©2021 Disney Enterprises)
Over on the Cruella front, Disney’s latest theatrical release – available for an extra cost on Disney+ – saw its total rise to $56.1 million this weekend after a $6.7 million haul; that is putting the Emma Stone origin tale on a pace for somewhere around $70 million domestic. (Warner Bros. would certainly love to see their “R”-rated horror sequel, which is available at home no extra cost on top of an HBO Max subscription, surpass this one.) Universal may be wishing they had thrown Spirit Untamed on a streaming service instead of giving it a theatrical run as the animated film only made $2.5 million this weekend for a total so far of $10.9 million. In better news for family films, The Croods: A New Age officially passed Tenet this weekend to become the highest-grossing film to open in 2020 during the pandemic.
(Photo by Alex Bailey/©Universal Pictures)
June 11: In 2012, Snow White and the Huntsman grossed $2.68 million on its 11th day to surpass $100 million. Back in 2000, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator made $2.21 million to cross $150 million on its 38th day. This was a good day for comic book heroes, too, as back in 2006, X-Men: The Last Stand crossed $200 million with $4.41 million on its 17th day; then, in 2017, Wonder Woman did the same with $18.81 million in a week less. Finally, in 2003, The Matrix Reloaded grossed $946,436 on its 28th day to cross $250 million.
June 12: The only major milestone of note on this date occurred in 2010 when Shrek Forever After grossed $6.58 million to hit $200 million on its 23rd day.
June 13: This was the second day of Jurassic World‘s release in 2015, and it grossed $69.64 million that Saturday and passed $150 million. It took Disney’s Maleficent 15 days to reach that mark a year earlier when it grossed $5.84 million. X-Men: First Class reached the $100 million mark in 11 days in 2011 with $2.72 million. On its 26th day in 2004, Shrek 2 grossed $6.82 million to pass $350 million.
Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, and Salma Hayek return on Wednesday next week in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, the sequel to the surprise modest hit that grossed $75.4 million domestically and $176 million worldwide. If you would rather stick to documentaries there are a pair of great ones entering theaters: Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It and Edgar Wright’s The Sparks Brothers about the band, Sparks. Both are at 100% on the Tomatometer.
Still waiting for box office reports on Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]