Until recently, horror had not exactly been the cause celebre bringing audiences back to theaters. Titles like The Unholy and Separation inspired neither critics nor moviegoers to escape a real-life horror for a fictional one. Established horror, on the other hand – with the exception of Saw reboot, Spiral – appears to be connecting with folks at just the right time. Warner Bros. chose not to budge with their latest Conjuring entry when A Quiet Place Part II moved into the Memorial Day slot the weekend before its planned release. Turns out the new story featuring Ed and Lorraine Warren lured enough folks away from last week’s sequel – despite being available with an HBO Max subscription – to win this week’s big horror battle. But John Krasinski’s film looks as if it will be winning the war and then some.
(Photo by Ben Rothstein, © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the third movie in the Conjuring series, switched directors from James Wan to The Curse of La Llorona’s Michael Chaves. With the change, the series’ Tomatometer scores went from 86% for The Conjuring and 80% for The Conjuring 2 down to 60% for The Devil Made Me Do It, and box office-wise, the movie opened to $24 million compared to the original’s $41 million and the first sequel’s $40 million. Once again, that’s a very solid number for the pandemic era (the third best three-day weekend), even if it will soon be judged amongst numerous other light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel pandemic numbers.
How many more people would have spent money for the movie if it were not also available on HBO Max? That’s a number lost to history, but the movie still opened bigger than the third Annabelle film ($20.26 million), which is the lowest grossing film in the Conjuring universe with a still impressive $74.1 million. The Devil Made Me Do It is now likely to have that distinction, given what we’re seeing in terms of “legs” at the pandemic box office. (WB’s Mortal Kombat opened to $23.3 million and will fail to even double that amount.) At a budget of $39 million (the highest in the Universe), The Devil Made Me Do It will need a little international help (but not a lot) to turn a profit as every other film in the universe has done.
(Photo by © Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)
Universal may have been better off taking a Trolls World Tour approach to animated sequel Spirit Untamed. The film, spun off from the nearly 20-year-old Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, earned just $6.2 million in theaters this weekend. That is less than both Tom & Jerry ($14.1 million) and Raya and the Last Dragon ($8.5 million) opened to in February and March when only a quarter of the country was vaccinated and some theater chains had not even re-opened yet. Untamed is not a heavily budgeted film, at $30 million, but it is doubtful it will have anything like the kind of sustained attendance that Raya had. The $80 million 2002 film was hardly a success story but had a decent turnover from its $17.7 million opening towards a $73.2 million domestic finish. Untamed may only get about 25-30% of that and is likely to see attendance drop now that family-friendly competitor Peter Rabbit 2 has moved its release up to next week.
A Quiet Place Part II may have fallen to second place (barely), but these are all fairly solid numbers in its favor. The first film dropped just 34.3% during its second weekend to $32.97 million and was bested by Rampage by less than $3 million; Part II fell 59% this weekend to $19.5 million, which is a much steeper drop than fellow $47 million Memorial Day weekend films (Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda 2, 2005’s The Longest Yard), which fell between 40.5-49.9%, but it is in the vicinity of Godzilla vs. Kong, which fell 56.9% off its opening weekend after a front-loaded Wednesday-Thursday start and $15 million less in its Friday-Sunday weekend than the Quiet Place sequel.
Krasinski’s film is becoming the new standard to beat in this period, taking in over $88 million in its first 10 days, and is hoping to pass GvK to become the first film since Sonic the Hedgehog on February 23, 2020 to gross $100 million. After $463,000 this weekend, GvK stands at $99.1 million; if Quiet falls off just 55% or less from last week’s weekdays haul, it could reach $100 million by Thursday. A Quiet Place Part II is currently on pace somewhere between Mad Max: Fury Road and Terminator Salvation, which would put it on the path for somewhere between $130 million and 140 million when all is said and done. It’s nice to be able to consider first estimates again as theaters begin to make their comeback.
Meanwhile, Cruella – which, like A Quiet Place II this weekend, made news when it was announced a sequel was on the way – took in $11.2 million this weekend, which is the third-best second weekend of the pandemic era. But the $43.6 million it has made to date puts it in the territory of After Earth and Battleship, two notorious failures for their studios that finished with $60 million and $65 million domestically. Even aided by international grosses of $183 million and $237 million, they were expensive failures. Cruella’s costs have been widely disparate in reports, but the answer is likely somewhere between the $130 million and $209 million budgets of those summertime busts, and Disney’s film has only made $16 million internationally so far, less than the premium streaming total of $20-plus million it made last weekend. They must be feeling optimistic given the sequel announcement.
(Photo by © Warner Bros. )
June 4: In 2017, Wonder Woman reached $100 million in just its third day of release with $29.75 million. Gal Gadot’s future villain, Kristen Wiig, saw Bridesmaids reach the same milestone with $4.96 million on its 23rd day in 2011. Over to the $150 million club, where Shrek made $2.48 million on day 20 to reach it. Four years earlier, The Lost World: Jurassic Park took only 13 days to do it with $2.36 million. Then in 2018, Solo: A Star Wars Story grossed $2.96 million on just its 11th day of release, though it would ultimately gross less than The Lost World and Shrek. Fast Five achieved $200 million in 37 days with $1.37 million on this day in 2011. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith made $10.45 million in its 17th day to cross $300 million.
June 5: This has been a big day for animated films (and one live-action remake). In 2011, Kung Fu Panda 2 reached $100 million in 11 days with $7.26 million; Madagascar did it in 10 days in 2005 with $8.41 million; and Up took only eight days to reach it in 2009 with $13.07 million. Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin grossed $5.1 million on this day to hit $200 million in 13 days. It was also the day in 2004 that Shrek 2 grossed $15.56 million to hit $300 million on its 18th day of release.
June 6: The $100 million line was crossed by three films this day. In 2009, it took 17 days for Terminator Salvation to do it with $3.37 million, and both Disney’s Maleficent (2014) and Finding Nemo (2003) did it on their eighth day with $10.18 million and $12.3 million, respectively. While Nemo was reaching $100 million in 2003, that same day Bruce Almighty reached $150 million on its 15th day with $6.7 million. But the biggest milestone of this date was reached in 1999 when Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace grossed $10.62 million on day 19 to hit $250 million.
(Photo by Macall Polay/©Warner Bros.)
In the Heights, based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Broadway musical, currently sits high on the Tomatometer, Certified Fresh at 99%, and could be poised to be one of the breakout hits of the summer. (It will also be available day-of on HBO Max.) Jon M. Chu’s film was supposed to be a wide release solo act next week, but will now be joined by the sequel, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. The original 2018 film grossed $115 million.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]