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411 Box Office Report: Space Jam: A New Legacy Soars With $31.7 Million Start

July 18, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Space Jam: A New Legacy Lebron James

The Space Jam franchise returned with a vengeance this weekend, heavily overperforming to claim the #1 spot at the box office. Space Jam: A New Legacy raked in $31.7 million for #1 over the weekend, clocking well over the $20 million that analysts were expecting it to do. That number actually puts it ahead of the $27.5 million that the first film grossed in 1996 and is the fourth-best opening weekend of 2021 to date, putting the animated/live-action hybrid film well on the path to success.

Coming into the weekend, box office predictors were pegging the film at a lower start due to a variety of entirely fair factors. It had been 25 years since the last film, after all, and the new film didn’t seem to be inspiring a lot of positive hype. That was born out by a low critical assessment, with aggregate scores at Rotten Tomatoes coming in at just 31% positive. Add in the fact that it was releasing day-and-date on HBO Max and this seemed like a film that families may well be sitting home to watch.

Not so much, as it turned out. The film has resonated with audiences, with a positive A- CinemaScore that matches the rating of the first film. The opening was Warner Bros’ best of the pandemic, beating the $28.2 million of Godzilla vs. Kong, and the best opening for a family movie as well. The film added $23 million in international markets for a $54.7 million worldwide take. The big question now is whether it can prove to be profitable off theaters against an expensive $150 million production budget. The follow-up question is: does Warner Bros. care that much? After all, this is a film that relies very heavily on its licensing profits, perhaps even more than the superhero films. If it can deliver moderately well at the box office and bring in at least $100 million domestically — which seems quite likely — then the continued overseas numbers, the HBO Max resubscriptions and sign-ups that it caused, and all the merchandising should bring it well into profit. Ultimately, this is a film that Warner Bros. is happy with even if it doesn’t make back all its money strictly in theaters.

Black Widow took a hit in its second weekend to fall to #2, bringing in $26.3 million. That’s a 67% drop, which was certainly bigger than expected. There are a variety of potential reasons; theater chains would love to point out that the Disney+ release is responsible for piracy, but that doesn’t explain the strong opening weekend. It seems more likely that the second weekend brought more people who were willing to see the film at home, as those who really wanted to go to the theater would be more likely to rush out opening weekend. Add in Space Jam’s strong performance likely taking some business away and you have a pretty strong explanation.

Whatever the reason, the MCU film isn’t hurting all that much. It has grossed $132 million domestically and $264 million worldwide thus far, and that’s without the important Chinese market where it has yet to open. Add in the Disney+ money (which was not reported this weekend, unlike last weekend’s $60 million start) Widow will be counted as a clear success by the studio. $200 million is still very much in reach for its final domestic take.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions opened at #3 with $8.8 million, performing right around where expectations were going into the weekend. The sequel to the surprise 2019 horror hit opened well below the first film’s $18.8 million start, but that was always expected to be the case even if it wasn’t opening in a pandemic against some serious heavyweights. Horror sequels generally slip from their originals, especially when their originals are unexpectedly successful.

Tournament of Champions had the difficult task of navigating a touch schedule, especially considering how much horror has been thriving at home. It was up against the first weekend that A Quiet Place Part II was available on Paramount+, and Sony didn’t overindex the marketing here. Critic reviews were mild at 42%, but only a little below the first film’s 51%. The word of mouth was fairly positive for the horror genre at a B, which is right on par with the first film.

Overall, this one should be in fine shape. It cost just $15 million and as I mentioned, marketing wasn’t incredibly high. The movie has added $4.5 million overseas for a $13.3 million worldwide start. The first movie very strongly delivered in international markets and if it can expand into territories nicely it should be another hit for the studio. Domestically, it seems likely to follow the original film’s legs which would put it at around $25 million.

F9: The Fast Saga was down a very solid 33% to $7.6 million in its fourth weekend. The ninth film in the Fast & Furious franchise now stands at $154.8 million domestically and $591.3 million worldwide, making it the highest worldwide-grossing English language film of 2021 by a large margin so far. F9 is continuing to deliver as expected and should end its domestic theatrical run at around $180 million, perhaps more. Even with its $200 million budget, it is exactly the hit Universal needed it to be.

The Boss Baby: Family Business faded some more, down 47% in its third weekend to $4.7 million. The animated family sequel is now at $44.6 million domestically and still has yet to launch in any real capacity overseas, with a worldwide take of $47.6 million. The international footprint is where it’ll make its money, if it does. As for now, it has a ways to go to make profit against its $82 million production budget. Domestically it should still end its run around $55 million.

The Forever Purge was down 47% in its third weekend to $4.2 million. The fifth film in the Purge franchise now stands at $35.9 million domestically and $48.4 million worldwide, delivering as needed against an $18 million budget. In the US it should be able to top $45 million and could conceivably hit $50 million, making it a profit for Universal.

A Quiet Place Part II wasn’t hurt too badly by its release on Paramount+ as it was down just 27% to $2.3 million in its eighth weekend. The horror sequel now stands at $155 million in the States and $260.1 million worldwide. Those are glorious numbers for a $61 million-budgeted film and it should be able to end off at around $170 million domestically.

Coming in at #8 was the documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. The Morgan Neville-directed film about the late celebrity chef scored $1.9 million in 927 theaters, marking the best documentary opening in the pandemic era. Those are great numbers, born from a fantastic critical consensus (95% on RT) and strong affection for Bourdain. Documentaries are always hard to predict final grosses for, but this is a major win for arthouse cinema, which needed to show it can deliver box office results at its pre-pandemic levels much in the same way blockbusters have. No word on its budget, but it is already the highest-grossing documentary of the year.

Cruella finally saw a bit of a dip, down 53% in its eighth weekend with $1.1 million. The Disney live-action adaptation is now up to $83.4 million domestically and $224.2 million worldwide, profitable against its $100 million budget perhaps even before factoring in the Disney+ Premier Access revenue. The film should end its run at at least $87 million and could still potentially hit $90 million.

Speaking of arthouse cinema, the #10 film was a surprise in the Nicolas Cage-starrer Pig. The NEON-produced film about a truffle hunter whose pig gets stolen brought in $945,000 from 550 theaters. Obviously those numbers aren’t anything that would score in the top 10 in the pre-pandemic era, but this is a whole new box office. It helps that the film is getting some truly stellar reviews; it stands at 97% on RT with a critic average of 8.2 out of 10, while fans also adore it with an 85% fresh.

There’s no word on if NEON plans to expand this film’s box office, but it should deliver fine either way. The film was always expected to gain most of its profit on its eventual PVOD money, making any theatrical revenue a cherry on top. It seems likely to cross $3 million depending on NEON’s plans, and that number would make the studio very happy.

Space Jam will probably give way to the #1 spot next weekend, as Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins premieres. That film is currently targeting a $20 million to $30 million opening weekend, while M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller Old is looking at a high teens to low $20 million start.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Space Jam: A New Legacy – $31.7 million ($31.7 million total)
1. Black Widow – $26.3 million ($132 million total)
3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions – $8.8 million ($8.8 million total)
4. F9: The Fast Saga – $7.6 million ($154.8 million total)
5. The Boss Baby: Family Business – $4.7 million ($44.6 million total)
6. The Forever Purge – $4.2 million ($35.9 million total)
7. A Quiet Place Part II – $2.3 million ($155 million total)
8. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain – $1.9 million ($1.9 million total)
9. Cruella – $1.1 million ($83.4 million total)
10. Pig – $935,0000 ($935,0000 total)