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411 Box Office Report: Candyman Blows Past Expectations To Win Weekend

August 29, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Candyman was back at the box office this weekend in a big way, taking the #1 spot with a very strong performance. Nia DaCosta’s sequel to the 1992 horror film swept into the #1 spot with $22.4 million. That’s a hell of a performance for a film that was expected to gross in the mid-teens leading into the weekend, speaking to the strength of the love for the original as well as the film’s marketing and buzz. The opening is about on par with the $24.1 million start of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It in July and reps another win for the box office following Free Guy’s strong performance earlier this month.

Candyman always had a lot of potential to deliver, but sequels which come years after a beloved original often have a difficult mountain to climb. In this case, the Universal Pictures release was obviously up to the task. Part of the film’s strength comes from the involvement of Jordan Peele, who produced the movie and co-wrote the script with DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld. Peele has been building quite a name in horror and while this is obviously DaCosta’s win, Peele’s name did add a lot of buzz. A strong marketing campaign kept demand for the film up despite the pandemic delays, and any lingering doubts people may have had about the film besmirching the original was waved away with the strong critical reviews at an 85% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes.

But critical love won’t save a film in the notoriously review-proof horror genre if the audience desire isn’t there. In this case it was, and it also led to strong word of mouth. Candyman has a B CinemaScore, which is strong for the horror genre where a C tends to be the average, and PosTrak shows a 56% recommend. That led to a strong hold throughout the weekend.

All of this means that the film is already well on its way to profit. Candyman cost about $25 million to make, and while it will face a big competitor for the fan-heavt demographics next week in Shang-Chi the film should still be a pretty solid hit for the studio. The film has added $5.2 million overseas for a $28.6 million worldwide start. The domestic take should at least reach $60 million and very possibly higher, leaving this as a successful horror sequel.

Even better, Candyman’s success didn’t leave last week’s #1, Free Guy, gutted. The Ryan Reynolds-starring action-comedy scored $13.6 million this weekend, down a mere 27% in its third frame. That puts the film at $79.3 million domestically and $179.6 million worldwide, both fantastic numbers for this film that is obviously capitalizing on stong word of mouth from filmgoers. The film was expensive at a $100 million budget, but the continued legs of this film will have it over $100 million domestically with ease by the time it leaves theaters. That’s going to make this a hit for 20th Century Studios and parent company Disney.

Paw Patrol: The Movie took a bit of a hit in its second weekend, dropping 50% to $6.6 million. The animated family film’s slip was somewhat expected considering it overperformed last weekend. The Paramount film is also available on Paramount+, so family who didn’t feel the need to go out opening weekend may well have just been watching from home. The film now stands at $21.1 million domestically and $61.9 million worldwide, strong numbers against a $26 million production budget. This one should close out its stateside box office at around $35 million to $40 million.

Jungle Cruise continues to have fantastic legs, as it was down just 21% in its fifth weekend to $5 million. The Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt adventure film has now grossed $100.1 million domestically and $187 million worldwide, plus all that Disney+ Premier Access money. The film is now on track for upwards of $115 million or more domestically before it exits theaters and with all revenue streams added in, this is going to be another hit.

Don’t Breathe 2 pulled in $2.8 million in its third weekend, down 44%. The movie is performing exactly as you’d expect a moderately liked sequel to a well-liked horror film, and is up to $24.6 million domestically and $35.3 million worldwide. This film is trailing well behind the first movie’s numbers but is already around its profit point against a $14 million production budget plus marketing. Its domestic total should end at around $35 million.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect was down 42% in its third weekend to pull in $2.2 million, not great considering its heavy second-weekend drop. The Jennifer Hudson-starring drama has not been able to entice the older audience it needed out to the box office and it stands at $19.7 and $20.3 million worldwide. This is going to be a failure against its $55 million budget, with its domestic final likely for about $28 million.

The Suicide Squad stabilized a bit, down 40% in its fourth weekend to $2 million. The DCEU movie is now at $52.8 million in the US and $154.6 million worldwide. The film won’t be profitable purly off theaters but the HBO Max subscription numbers will allow Warner Bros. to call it a success, even with a $185 million budget.

The Protege had a quiet start last weekend, and it stayed quiet in weekend two. The action film brought in $1.7 million this frame, down 43% from its opening weekend take. The Martin Campbell-directed film now has $5.7 million domestically and $5.9 million worldwide. We don’t know the budget, but this will not be a hit and it should finish off with about $8 million to $9 million.

David Bruckner’s The Night House took an expected 57% drop in its second weekend to gross $1.2 million. The drop is typical of the slow-burn brand of indie horror, and puts the movie at $5.2 million domestically and $5.8 million worldwide. This film is not going to be a box office smash, but it should end its run around $8 million or so and that will be enough.

Black Widow closed out the top 10 with $855,000, down 23% in its eighth weekend. The MCU action film now stands at $181.5 million domestically and $369.9 million worldwide. We know that the film also added $125 million as of last weekend through Disney+ Premier Access numbers thanks to a court filing related to the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit, so this is a hit for Disney even with the $200 million budget. $185 million will be its domestic final.

Speaking of the MCU, next weekend will see Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings take over the box office. The rare blockbuster to open over Labor Day, a traditional dead zone in theaters, the film is currently expected to bring in $45 million over the four-day period but that number could rise as buzz and hype continues to build. As tends to be the norm, no one is willing to open their movies against an MCU film so Shang-Chi will have the sole new release attention.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Candyman – $22.4 million ($22.4 million total)
2. Free Guy – $13.6 million ($79.3 million total)
3. Paw Patrol: The Movie – $6.6 million ($24.1 million total)
4. Jungle Cruise – $5 million ($100.1 million total)
5. Don’t Breathe 2 – $2.8 million ($24.6 million total)
6. Respect – $2.2 million ($19.7 million total)
7. The Suicide Squad – $2 million ($52.8 million total)
8. The Protégé – $1.7 million ($5.7 million total)
9. The Night House – $1.2 million ($5.2 million total)
10. Black Widow – $855,000 ($181.5 million total)