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411 Box Office Report: Free Guy Holds Very Well to Keep #1 Spot

August 22, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Free Guy

You can’t stop a Free Guy at the box office, as Ryan Reynolds’ action comedy held on quite well to retain the #1 position. The video game-inspired film grossed $18.8 million in its second weekend, down just 34% from last week’s impressive $28.8 million opener. That’s the best hold for a #1 film in recent memory with ease and puts the movie at $58.8 million domestically and $112 million worldwide.

The hold is a testament not only to Reynolds’ power at the box office, but also the film’s strong critical and audience word of mouth. People are still going out to see the movie, especially since there was no new direct competition at the box office this weekend. Sure, Free Guy was expensive at a $100 million budget, but at this point it looks likely to be able to hit profit before it leaves theaters. Free Guy opens in China next weekend which should provide a decent boost, and domestically it now looks likely to gross at least $90 million domestically. Disney is quite happy with this one.

Count Paramount among the studios that are quite happy this weekend, as Paw Patrol: The Movie hit #2 with a $13 million start. The animated family film performed at or slightly above most expectations and has added $21.5 million overseas since its start last weekend for a $34.5 million total. The opening speaks to the Nickelodeon property’s positive brand value, bolstered by great reviews (84% on RT) and great word of mouth (an A- CinemaScore). Paw Patrol was also able to take advantage of the fact that it’s the only movie targeted to kids that has opened since Boss Baby: Family Business eight weeks ago.

The opening is especially good considering that it was available to stream on Paramount+ the same day, meaning that enough audiences were willing to go out to the theater to see it. The film is already a good portion of the way to making back its $26 million production budget plus marketing, and should be nicey profitable by the time it leaves theaters. If it follows the Boss Baby sequel’s trajectory it should be able to close out with around $45 million domestically by the end of its run.

Jungle Cruise held steady at the #3 spot this weekend with $6.2 million, down just 32% from last weekend’s number. The film is still performing well even with its Disney+ Premier Access availability and currently stands at $92.5 million domestically and $173.7 million worldwide, with additional revenue via the digital release strategy. The film is still on track for around $110 million or so by the end of its domestic run and even with a $200 million budget, it will be profitable once all the theatrical and digital revenue streams are factored in.

Don’t Breathe 2 took the expected horror drop, slipping 52% in its second weekend to bring in $5.1 million. The horror sequel is currently sitting at $19.7 million domestically and $27.2 million domestically to date, putting it on the path to profit against its $14 million budget. It won’t get anywhere near the first one’s final numbers ($89.2 million domestic & $158.9 million WW), but it should be able to end its North American theatrical run at around $30 million or so.

Aretha Franklin biopic Respect took a heavier dip than expected, as it dropped 57% in weekend two to $3.8 million. Chalk this up to the barely-positive reviews hurting business. The film is looking even less likely to be profitable from its theatrical stint, standing at $15.8 million domestically and $16.3 million worldwide against a $55 million budget. It should end its run at around $25 million or so.

The Suicide Squad slipped another 54% in its third weekend, down to $3.4 million. The DCEU movie is now at $49.3 million in the US but performing pretty well overseas, with $140.8 million worldwide. Again, this one won’t make money purely off of theaters but its HBO Max subscription numbers should allow Warner Bros. to count it as a success.

The lesser box office newcomers for the weekend kicked off at #7, lead by The Protege. The Michael Keaton and Maggie Q action film grossed $2.9 million, which was below the high single digits that people were expecting for it. This film’s falling short is on the combination of low awareness due to a barely-there marketing campaign, only “okay” reviews (62% on RT), and a lackluster B CinemaScore. Basically, with options like Free Guy and Don’t Breathe 2 taking the male-targeted demographics, there wasn’t much to bring to this movie’s table. The Protege is probably destined for a quick exit from theaters and while we don’t know the budget, the probable $8 million final take won’t be enough to make it a hit.

Horror flick The Night House opened right about at expectations with $2.9 million. The David Bruckner-directed critical darling film was never going to be a breakout hit despite its 84% fresh rating, because it’s a slower burn horror film that delivers more mood than outright scares and has an ending that will polarize people. All of that was reflected in the C- CinemaScore; audiences don’t generally love moody downer films. That said, this film did what people (including distributor Searchlight Pictures and parent company Disney) wanted it to do, and it reps the best start for Bruckner to date. The Night House will probably get to around $9 million or so and considering the inexpensive nature of the movie, that will be enough for it.

On the absolute flip side is sci-fi film Reminiscence, which fell desperately flat in its opening weekend with $2 million. Sure, that’s not much lower than Night House or The Protege, but this one should have done MUCH better business. You have a more marketable star in Hugh Jackman, a much wider opening at 3,265 theaters, and Warner Bros. there to promote it. Sadly, Warner Bros. appears to have known that this wouldn’t go over well as they didn’t give it a lot of marketing and when the reviews came in at 37% on RT, we figured out why.

Audience reaction was very bad to, with a C+. Horror can surive on a C, that’s par for the course for them. Big-budget sci-fi? Not so much. People will point to the film’s HBO Max day-and-date release date for this, but this just wasn’t a film that screamed “must-see” and audiences seem likely to have skipped it even if they couldn’t just see it at home instead. Reminiscence cost a reported $68 million to preduce, and the studio isn’t getting most of that money recouped. It added an additional $3 million overseas for a lousy $5 million total, and will be lucky if it hits $7 million before it exits theater. This is an unequivocal bomb.

Black Widow closed out the top 10 with $1.2 million, down 39% in its seventh weekend. That the MCU film now stands at $180.2 million domestically and $369.6 million worldwide. Interestingly, we actually know extended numbers for the film’s Disney+ Premier Access release due to Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney over it. Disney has acknowledged that the film drew $125 million digitally in a filing related to the lawsuit, which if factored in brings the film’s worldwide total to $494.6 million. Regardless, the film is definitely a profitable one for Disney even against a $200 million budget and should finish off at around $185 million by the end of its run domestically.

Free Guy will probably make way for horror next weekend, as Candyman opens in theaters. The revival of the beloved horror franchise is targeting a low to mid-teens launch.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Free Guy – $18.8 million ($58.8 million total)
2. Paw Patrol: The Movie – $13 million ($13 million total)
3. Jungle Cruise – $6.2 million ($92.5 million total)
4. Don’t Breathe 2 – $5.1 million ($19.7 million total)
5. Respect – $3.8 million ($15.8 million total)
6. The Suicide Squad – $3.4 million ($49.3 million total)
7. The Protégé – $2.9 million ($2.9 million total)
8. The Night House – $2.9 million ($2.9 million total)
9. Reminiscence – $2 million ($2 million total)
7. Black Widow – $1.2 million ($180.2 million total)