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It was Universal week at the holiday box office, with two new films from the studio and a third from last week still leading the way. Only one of them is currently available on streaming too. Certainly there is some focus on the big franchise crossing a milestone in pandemic-record time, but the more hopeful story may be the studio’s acquired franchise showing that family films could be on the rise. Or that nobody realized it was also available for free on Peacock.
It was definitely a family kind of weekend all around, with BBQs, fireworks, and the Toretto gang holding on to its #1 spot at the box office, though it was a good news/bad news situation. Starting with the obvious good is that F9 cleared $100 million in just eight days. That’s a full week better than Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II and about 10 weeks faster than it took Godzilla vs. Kong. Exclusive company to be sure, though F9 would certainly like to join the ranks of its predecessors and set new milestones for the box office going forward.
Making $24 million this weekend is almost $5 million better than A Quiet Place Part II’s second go-round. The big difference is that Quiet debuted on a holiday weekend with $47.5 million and fell to $19.2 million. If F9’s $70 million start last week was even more impressive, then we must also conclude that barely beating Quiet in week two with a Monday holiday is less so. Nearly $126 million through Monday is still nothing to sneeze at during these times but the 10-day total of $117 million is putting F9 further on course with the fourth entry, Fast & Furious, than any films since. (Hobbs & Shaw excluded.) The reunion of Vin Diesel & Paul Walker in that fourth film had grossed $116.4 million by its tenth day, the result of a $27.2 million second (non-holiday) weekend. F9 does have the summer weekday advantage in its favor (F&F opened in April) which could be the difference in getting over the $155 million that #4 grossed. However, anything under $176 million would still be a $50+ million drop for The Fate of the Furious’ final gross. Still, F9 has become the highest-grossing film worldwide during the pandemic with over $491 million.
When it was announced that Universal was putting The Boss Baby: Family Business on its Peacock service the same day as its theatrical release, it appeared to be another white flag that the studio had recognized the limited returns currently of the family market. Lo and behold, the film still managed to gross $17.3 million over the weekend and an estimated $23 million through Monday. That is still a far cry from the $50.1 million the original film opened to in 2017, but aside from the “PG-13” Cruella ($21.4 million) this is the best true family opening to date since last year’s Onward, which opened just a week before everything started getting shut down. It should also surpass Peter Rabbit 2’s total by next weekend. That’s the half-full version of the opening. The half-empty one is imagining what could have been achieved without the streaming option that costs nothing more beyond a Peacock subscription, which starts as low as $5 a month. An even darker timeline might wonder just how many families subscribed to the service this week just to get The Boss Baby sequel.
The other Universal title taking up residence in the top 3 this week is The Forever Purge (aka Supposedly The Last Purge.) This entry had the lowest start yet with $12.7 million over the weekend. The $15.8 million estimated through Monday is a full $10 million less than the $26.23 million that The First Purge (aka the last Purge film aka the fourth one) did in its first four days after opening on Weds, July 4 in 2018. Nevertheless that film still outgrossed the original 2013 film’s $64.47 million with $69.48 million. All of the Purge films grossed between $64-80 million; this one may be hopeful to top out somewhere around $40-45 million.
Everything is under $6 million from here, but leading the pack of that group once again is A Quiet Place Part II, which is now headed to over $150 million possibly by next weekend. It should at least have the distinction of being the first film during the pandemic to hit that milestone while also surpassing last year’s Sonic The Hedgehog to become the second-highest grossing film (to only Bad Boys For Life) in 2020-21. F9 will make a run to claim that spot but it will not happen by next weekend, and if it continues to drop fast, do not be shocked if John Krasinski’s sequel keeps the race close.
Down in tenth place is a nice story with Janicza Bravo’s Zola from A24, grabbing $1.2 million over the weekend and $2 million since opening last Wednesday. The Sundance favorite from 2020 opened in 1,468 theaters compared to 1,433 for its fellow Sundance ’20 competitor, The Courier, which made $2.19 million in its first five days of release and ended up grossing $6.6 million. Certified Fresh at 86%, Zola has the tenth best score among wide releases of 2021 and is estimated at $2.44 million through Monday
The film that was supposed to open more than a year ago finally arrives in theaters. Marvel’s Black Widow with Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and David Harbour will hope to move the box office to the next level before August’s own big comic book film gives it a go. But will the Premium Access availability on Disney+ draw enough away from theaters to make this one of the lower-grossing films of the MCU?
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]