Free Guy is the top ranking movie this past weekend with a $28.4M debut – well ahead of the industry’s expectations. The Disney/20th Century Studio film stars Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer (if you haven’t seen Killing Eve, you are missing out), Joe Keery (Stranger Things) and a number of cameos from well-known stars that support the film’s videogame meta-humor. It is Disney’s first non-franchise original concept in a long time and Disney’s first title of the year to get 45-days of exclusivity in theaters (the second will be Shang Chi on 9/03). Free Guy was seemingly tailor-made for Reynolds – mashing together what made fans love Deadpool, Hitman’s Bodyguard, and Detective Pikachu. Positive word-of-mouth propelled business for Free Guy 24% on Saturday. The film’s success has reportedly pushed Disney to sign up for a sequel.
The runner-up, Sony’s Don’t Breathe 2, is the sixth horror sequel since May but if there’s one genre that hasn’t stumbled through the pandemic – it’s horror. We’ve seen many low budget, R-Rated horror films this year become modest successes (The Conjuring 3, The Forever Purge) or at least modest failures (Spiral, Escape Room 2). Don’t Breathe 2 arrives five years after the sleeper-hit success of Don’t Breathe and reels in $10.6M at the box-office. Like Free Guy, DB2 saw Friday-to-Saturday growth (+7%) indicative of potentially strong long-term playability and that the movie is clicking with younger demos.
The final note from this weekend’s three-part harmony is MGM’s Respect. The Aretha Franklin biopic sees Jennifer Hudson step into the shoes of the legendary singer, songwriter, and pianist. Decorated with many accolades herself, Hudson’s performance has been singled out by many for high praise despite mixed reviews for the movie itself. Similar to 2014’s Get On Up, the film picked up a solid $8.8M over the weekend.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s headliner, The Suicide Squad, had a rough sophomore weekend of $7.8M – but we weren’t expecting any different. Despite positive word-of-mouth from fans and critics, Warner Bros.’ day-and-date releases have consistently been front-loaded. Streaming availability, piracy, and the Delta variant aside, this weekend’s Free Guy definitely steals The Suicide Squad’s core male audience – and with the other new releases in tow, much of Squad’s footprint shrinks.
In contrast, Jungle Cruise posted a strong third weekend of $9.0M (a hold of 57%). Its position as a family-friendly film has gone mostly uncontested (until this upcoming weekend). Although we don’t have visibility of the numbers to this level of detail, Disney traditionally pairs recent films together for double-bookings at drive-ins – so with Free Guy out, Jungle may have gotten a boost.
All-in, the August 13th weekend totals to $74.2M. That brings our YTD total to $1.89B, of which $812M has been earned since July 1st. We have seen exponential recovery at box-office since the onset of vaccines. Q3’s 46-day calendar total is still eight times greater than the same time-frame in Q1 ($97M) and almost triple that of Q2 ($290M). With Venom: Let There Be Carnage moving into October, there is more reason to believe that Q4 (at the very least October) will set higher benchmarks.