Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: Free Guy Scores Best Pandemic Opening for Original Movie with $28.4 Million

With a sequel already announced, the Ryan Reynolds flick is leveling up the box office. Plus: the numbers for Don't Breathe 2, The Suicide Squad, and Respect on the weekend of August 13-15, 2021.

by | August 15, 2021 | Comments

The industry was holding its breath to see how this weekend’s new theatrical exclusive entries would perform. This weekend was the first time during the pandemic that three new movies were released in over 2,000 theaters without a single streaming entity making them available at home. With COVID-19 cases again on the rise, the weekend was likely going to be a barometer for studios to decide how to manage their fall and holiday releases. We’re not out of the woods yet, but one film did just enough to allow those eyeing delays on their schedules to exhale for a moment.

King of the Crop: Free Guy Passes Pandemic Test and Gives Theaters Much-Needed Hope

Everything is on notice after The Suicide Squad underperformed last week. If a high-concept, (mostly) family-friendly film like Free Guy that can only be seen in theaters could not pull in a decent number this weekend, just how willing would the folks behind No Time To Die, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Top Gun: Maverick be to gamble on reduced attendance if the COVID-19 numbers kept trending upwards?

Hope was struck on Friday morning when the numbers showed that Free Guy, which Disney took on after acquiring Fox but did not make available via Premier Access on Disney+, sold $2.2 million worth of tickets Thursday night. With those numbers in hand it was time to start predicting the weekend haul. Charting 16 PG-13 films that had previously grossed $2 million-$2.4 million in Thursday night previews, the average opening gross was $30.5 million; only three of those films went on to have weekends under $20 million, and, of the five that opened over $30 million, four of them were sequels. So between $20 million and $30 million felt right for Free Guy. Earlier in the week, many felt anything under $25 million would give industry folk pause, but when analysts began downgrading expectations to under $20 million, the film was given a solid cushion to land on. When the numbers came in on Sunday, revealing Free Guy pulled in $28.4 million for the weekend, it felt like a real triumph.

Free Guy

(Photo by 20th Century Studios)

That is the seventh-best opening of the pandemic and not just better than The Suicide Squad last week, but actually the best opening for an original film. (The word “original” being used a little loosely here as one can recognize Tron, Wreck-It-Ralph, The Truman Show, and They Live amongst its influences. But, still, unlike Black Widow, F9, A Quiet Place Part II, Jungle Cruise, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Space Jam: A New Legacy, it is neither a sequel, prequel, reboot, nor based on existing IP – like a ride.)

It is too soon to call the legs on this one. No film yet that has made less than $60 million in its first 10 days during the pandemic has reached $100 million. Then again, Free Guy is likely to remain no. 1 for a second straight week, remain in the top five for its first full month, and stick around in the top 10 at least until the beginning of October. It will all depend how severe the drops are, which will likely be based on how comfortable everyone continues to be going to theaters.

Rotten Returns: The Suicide Squad May Not Finish the Mission 

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Whether it’s concern over the rise of the Delta variant, the lure of staying home and catching it on HBO Max, or some lack of interest in the latest DCEU movie – despite it being Certified Fresh at 91%, among the best-reviewed movies in that universe – The Suicide Squad continues to underperform. The movie experienced a 70% drop from last weekend and fell to fifth place with $7.7 million. With just $42.9 million in its first 10 days, it is trailing what The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It had in the bank at the same time (not to mention that movie scored a $10.3 million second weekend). Looking at August releases historically, The Suicide Squad is charting a similar-looking path to the 2012 remake of Total Recall, which dropped 68.7% in its second weekend to $8 million and had $44.1 million. It finished with $58.8 million. As suggested last week, in normal times without a pandemic and without a day-and-date streaming option, The Suicide Squad would have likely had an opening weekend higher than that even with the most conservative of estimates. With those variables in place it appears it may not even top $60 million total.

The Top 10 and Beyond: Jungle Cruise On Track to be Disney’s Second Pandemic $100 Million Movie

Jungle Cruise

(Photo by courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Last week we gave Disney’s Jungle Cruise a puncher’s chance of making it to $100 million and it is definitely punching. It made $9 million this weekend, giving it $82 million after 17 days; that is a great number in that no film released in July or August to have at least $80 million in that stretch failed to eventually clear $100 million. It would be Disney’s second film with a simultaneous Disney+ Premier Access release, after Black Widow, to reach the milestone. Cruella, which had a similar release and just signed Emma Stone for a sequel, is also the sixth highest-grossing film of the pandemic with over $85 million.

Moving over to the new titles of the week. Don’t Breathe 2‘s $10.6 million may have looked good when the best the genre was getting was The Unholy and Separation. But the pandemic has given us a mild stretch with the third Conjuring, The Forever Purge, and Old, in which fans seemed ready to make the genre something of a box office over-performer. Still, Don’t Breathe 2 looks to be more in the Spiral and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions realm, a sequel few people felt they needed, and which could underperform. That $10.6 million start (aided in part by a “hey, let’s go see it on Friday the 13th” contingent) is far less than the original’s triumphant $26.4 million start in August 2016 on its way to over $89 million. The sequel will be hopeful to end up in the $25 million-$30 million range.

The release of the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, with Jennifer Hudson, delivered something of a blow to the kind of mid-range films for adults – which could be the big box office story going forward coming out of 2021. The ceiling is not being raised for these films and the $8.8 million Respect made is more evidence that age groups outside of those typically targeted by studios are taking their time when it comes to a night out at the movies. M. Night Shyamalan’s Old breaking $43 million feels like a legit standout at this point versus all the IP making up the current theatrical cashflow. In the Heights, Wrath of Man, and Nobody all earned between $27 million and $30 million (all better than Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins), and Respect may join them, but how long will studios hold on to these kind of alternatives as theatrical exclusives (Heights notwithstanding) before day-and-date streaming helps them out sooner?

On the Vine: Action, Mystery, Thrills, and the Paw Patrol

Arguably the biggest title opening on a very crowded weekend will be Paw Patrol: The Movie. But with it streaming concurrently on Paramount+, how much of a splash will this really make? (Remember that Paramount moved Clifford the Big Red Dog off the schedule from September due to “Delta concerns” but left this one to take its chances in August.) One thing Paw Patrol has on its side? A 100% Fresh Tomatometer Score, so far. Also streaming while in theaters next week is the Hugh Jackman sci-fi tale, Reminiscence. It will be on HBO Max. That leaves a pair of R-rated thrillers to take a shot at the mid-range crowd. Lionsgate’s The Protégé, from action director Martin Campbell, stars Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson. And then there is David Bruckner’s The Night House, from Searchlight Pictures; the horror film premiered at Sundance in 2020 and currently has a Fresh Tomatometer score of 84%.

Full List of Box Office Results: August 13-15, 2021

  • $28.4 million ($28.4 million total)

  • $10.6 million ($10.6 million total)

  • $9 million ($82.1 million total)

  • $8.8 million ($8.8 million total)

  • $7.8 million ($42.9 million total)

  • $2.4 million ($43 million total)

  • $2 million ($178.2 million total)

  • $1.3 million ($12.5 million total)

  • $1.2 million ($14.7 million total)

  • $1.1 million ($68 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Sneak Peek boxing Discovery Channel trophy police drama First Reviews women dramedy dogs Watching Series History MGM LGBTQ RT History live event Christmas remakes summer preview Turner Classic Movies Lionsgate nbcuniversal Shudder jurassic park Dark Horse Comics BAFTA TNT doctor who A&E Awards 4/20 Netflix Christmas movies FX dragons The Witch spider-man monster movies OneApp genre Masterpiece rt archives 73rd Emmy Awards Marvel leaderboard Cartoon Network Disney Channel USA ID spy thriller LGBT Disney streaming service Quiz witnail technology Britbox adaptation Rock YouTube Red Marvel Television archives new star wars movies Focus Features Country cancelled TV shows comic book movie Reality Competition elevated horror Writers Guild of America ABC Signature theme song video on demand MTV Epix toy story Disney Plus ratings cars dexter TV One criterion mutant FOX slashers Winter TV Crackle black Rocky rotten Mystery El Rey stop motion dark psychological thriller concert 99% Crunchyroll latino Food Network CNN new zealand Fox Searchlight crime rotten movies we love Year in Review 90s Comic Book ABC golden globe awards basketball canceled TV shows japan TV movies a nightmare on elm street DC Universe disaster Black History Month scene in color worst movies Paramount Pictures DGA Schedule Oscar travel Pop Arrowverse Teen Red Carpet superman Bravo Women's History Month australia 2020 Photos chucky BBC America Paramount Network Lifetime renewed TV shows E3 hollywood President boxoffice TIFF E! hispanic feel good batman Comedy Best Actor Adult Swim FXX Creative Arts Emmys anthology Amazon wonder woman joker Acorn TV robots 79th Golden Globes Awards GoT DC streaming service Video Games twilight breaking bad Star Trek emmy awards cinemax spider-verse Wes Anderson Brie Larson razzies psycho debate slasher TLC AMC 94th Oscars 20th Century Fox Action vampires Drama Nat Geo CMT stoner based on movie award winner rom-coms sequels Countdown trailers BET Awards TCA science fiction Best Director adventure best lord of the rings ITV international book adaptation 007 BET 1990s halloween war Podcast BBC One Binge Guide historical drama strong female leads Tags: Comedy RT21 news IMDb TV classics Pirates Fargo Awards Tour Winners Pet Sematary YouTube 2021 saw blockbusters APB movie olympics WGN werewolf Spectrum Originals biopic Toys laika Super Bowl GLAAD IFC toronto South by Southwest Film Festival king arthur streaming movies summer TV preview mockumentary Mary poppins Ellie Kemper dreamworks cults gangster documentaries Hear Us Out canceled Netflix Horror SXSW Opinion versus Walt Disney Pictures Family Peacock Ghostbusters spanish Disney marvel cinematic universe Mudbound SundanceTV TBS Prime Video venice Thanksgiving children's TV cooking fast and furious zero dark thirty talk show quibi Marvel Studios tv talk comiccon PlayStation Neflix broadcast indie kaiju Turner Avengers Rom-Com Valentine's Day obituary Calendar DC Comics Hallmark Infographic comedies cancelled crime drama Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt animated medical drama Emmys Kids & Family Premiere Dates NYCC posters pirates of the caribbean kong Stephen King all-time Holidays green book CBS All Access Vudu Fall TV sports Exclusive Video scary TCA Awards CBS Paramount Plus true crime screenings Ovation richard e. Grant reviews universal monsters satire 2018 Film godzilla mission: impossible dc 2019 72 Emmy Awards TV anime marvel comics Biopics blaxploitation Television Academy ghosts Hollywood Foreign Press Association aapi king kong Tumblr Emmy Nominations AMC Plus MCU The Walking Dead adenture Syfy Polls and Games game of thrones discovery Alien supernatural Spike docuseries PBS Tubi X-Men art house Paramount Baby Yoda obi wan crime thriller cancelled TV series Best Actress Elton John sopranos movies Comics on TV diversity unscripted 2017 Music kids golden globes Classic Film Summer Reality cats independent HBO Max Columbia Pictures Comic-Con@Home 2021 2016 Musical dceu spinoff Television Critics Association VOD italian festivals The CW christmas movies mob Amazon Prime Video docudrama Nickelodeon HBO USA Network Sci-Fi miniseries critics 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 21st Century Fox Amazon Studios sitcom TCA 2017 young adult Heroines high school scorecard Oscars DirecTV live action rt labs critics edition Fox News critic resources Broadway scary movies HBO Go OWN TV renewals biography casting Mary Poppins Returns what to watch San Diego Comic-Con stand-up comedy mcc Academy Awards parents football films target fresh space New York Comic Con Mindy Kaling romantic comedy sequel finale Superheroes Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Character Guide hidden camera Logo CW Seed Amazon Prime interviews cops teaser comic books 71st Emmy Awards VICE Hulu Hallmark Christmas movies child's play serial killer zombies blockbuster BBC binge japanese Warner Bros. Trophy Talk vs. Instagram Live revenge deadpool Shondaland Apple TV Plus popular comic book movies NBC game show Sundance Now Superheroe foreign Best and Worst royal family VH1 Image Comics MSNBC Fantasy SDCC American Society of Cinematographers halloween tv Animation Freeform hispanic heritage month Apple sag awards suspense name the review documentary FX on Hulu nature summer TV Anna Paquin cartoon Pixar Trivia political drama Grammys HFPA Mary Tyler Moore nfl Sundance spain Lifetime Christmas movies Sony Pictures telelvision Best Picture romance Marathons Pacific Islander Apple TV+ black comedy james bond Esquire Tarantino asian-american worst know your critic Certified Fresh Black Mirror Rocketman Nominations YouTube Premium hist The Academy transformers 45 video comics Disney+ Disney Plus Lucasfilm 24 frames legend Western french jamie lee curtis facebook Cosplay prank ABC Family cancelled television television Holiday directors YA ESPN thriller action-comedy streamig PaleyFest WarnerMedia Musicals reboot Showtime harry potter spanish language TruTV Chernobyl IFC Films Funimation Martial Arts 93rd Oscars Set visit See It Skip It Universal Pictures composers Song of Ice and Fire Spring TV The Purge superhero zombie social media Starz south america natural history National Geographic politics 2015 Interview NBA Pop TV SXSW 2022 Election Captain marvel The Arrangement Endgame Sundance TV indiana jones First Look comic The Walt Disney Company singing competition Trailer heist movie series Cannes new york festival Film Festival TCA Winter 2020 ViacomCBS Legendary die hard TCM Pride Month Extras Tomatazos GIFs streaming justice league Comedy Central aliens franchise Travel Channel Box Office TV Land A24 Universal Tokyo Olympics free movies book Star Wars rt labs crossover period drama screen actors guild