It’s been quiet for far too long. Going into the Memorial Day Weekend, the U.S. reported the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and the largest number of travelers across the nation’s airports since the start of the pandemic. People are on the move again. This holiday marks the first “maskless” holiday in over a year. The CDC lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated people and restrictions that previously barred many from returning to their favorite pastimes. Moviegoing is part of that. Now, theaters only need fresh and exciting movies to bait content-starved moviegoers back – and that is exactly what Paramount and Disney delivered this weekend.
Paramount’s A Quiet Place II rose the decibel level of theaters across the nation with an estimated 4-day $57M debut*($48M 3-day) from 3,726 theaters. Not only is that number fairly close to the $60M 3-day opening estimated before the pandemic, it also beats the $50M opening of the film’s predecessor, A Quiet Place.IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond announced, “A Quiet Place II is the first domestic release this year to cross the threshold from ‘great opening weekend given the pandemic’ to ‘great opening weekend, period’”. The sequel, which sees married couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt team up again, will play exclusively in theaters for 45 days before heading over to Paramount Plus.
In contrast, Disney’s Cruella opened day-and-date in theaters and for Disney Plus subscribers willing to pay a $30 premium. The Cruella de Vil origin story, starring Emma Stone, came out the gates with a $27M 4-day opening ($21M 3-day) at 3,892 theaters. The film’s box-office could have gone higher had it been a theatrical exclusive. Still, Disney did launch brand campaigns intended to get moviegoers out of their homes. The film’s marketing partnered with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, De Beers, and Tom Davies to encourage people to get dressed up for the movie.
This weekend, millions of moviegoers returned to theaters, and judging by the audience scores for both films, it was well worth the trip (Cruella posted an “A” CinemaScore; A Quiet Place II got “A-“).
Together, A Quiet Place II and Cruella led the weekend’s domestic box-office towards a $100M 4-day ($80M 3-day) total. That crushes the previous pandemic-high of $57M set during the April 23-25 weekend, when Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer entered theaters. An interesting footnote: females made up the bulk of the holiday weekend’s box office, with women making up 53% of A Quiet Place II’s audience and 64% of Cruella’s.
After an impressive Memorial Day box office, many in the industry are ready to inch up their projections for June’s upcoming attractions, including: Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (6/04), In The Heights (6/11), Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (6/11), and F9 (6/25).
Should this momentum continue, this summer’s line-up could bring the first $75M – maybe even the first $100M – title since the pandemic started. Until then, Warner Bros. plans to open the next chapter of the Conjuring movie franchise this Friday, June 4th.