After four weekends of jump-scares and thrills dominating the box-office, new releases In the Heights and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway offer lighter, feel-good options to returning moviegoers. However, neither of the new films managed to beat the junior weekend of Paramount’s A Quiet Place II – a total of $11.7M.
The cinematic adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway play – a production that won four Tony awards in 2008 (including Best Musical) – emerged as this weekend’s runner-up with an $11.4M opening weekend. Featuring both the profile of Miranda’s work and the vision of Director Jon M. Chu (previously responsible for Crazy Rich Asians), In The Heights delivers a musical of Hispanic flavor that both critics and audiences embraced. However, the 2 ½ hour run time may have been too much for general audiences to commit to. Broadway musicals that long usually provide an intermission period, and In the Heights was available on HBO Max the same day.
Despite the softer-than-expected debut, In the Heights is unique among the current theatrical offerings – a fact that helped theaters draw in new business. Before the weekend, 96% of moviegoers told Fandango that In the Heights would be the first movie they planned to see since the pandemic began. It is possible that strong word-of-mouth may translate to strong week-to-week holdovers – as we saw with Crazy Rich Asians before.
Counter-programming the musical with a movie that appeals to parents with younger kids, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway scored a $10.4M opening weekend. The film had seen many release-date revisions since the pandemic. Over the span of a few weeks, Peter Rabbit 2 hopped from June to May, and then from May to July, before finally landing back home in June. Sony obviously had concerns about the pandemic’s hold on the domestic box-office, but the film’s success overseas compelled the studio to move the date up by a week (from June 18 to June 11). That gives the sequel a three week hold on the younger market before The Boss Baby: Family Business hits theaters July 2.
Movies aimed at children have seen exceptional theatrical runs (like The Croods: A New Age; Tom and Jerry; and Raya and the Last Dragon), so we can expect strong legs for Peter Rabbit 2 – at least until Boss Baby arrives.
Before the weekend’s total box-office climbed to $56.7M, A Quiet Place II crossed another milestone for the industry’s recovery. On Friday, A Quiet Place IIbecame the first movie since the pandemic to earn more than $100M domestically (it stands at $109M today). The sequel did so in just 14 days – yet another sign that moviegoers are returning to theaters at an increasingly fast pace.
The next pandemic-era milestone in sight is the $75M opening weekend. Whether its F9 on July 2, or Black Widow on July 9, analysts are optimistic that one (or both) films can hit the mark. In fact, analysts with more bullish expectations mark Black Widow as the first pandemic-era film that can reach the $100M debut. It will be interesting to see the story that pre-sales – which opened last Friday – tell before the movie hits theaters.
Until then, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard promises a “killer threesome” for moviegoers this Wednesday, June 16. The high-octane, comedic thriller combines the talents of Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ryan Reynolds.