Four new wide-releases – the most we have had all pandemic – entered movie theaters this past weekend, boosting the box-office to an estimated total of $27.5M.
Leading the charts with a $8.7M opening weekend is Spiral, the ninth entry into the Saw series by Lionsgate. Subtitled “From the Book of Saw”, the film breathes new life into the franchise with new characters (starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson) being thrown into the Jigsaw Killer’s sandbox. The series previously saw a soft reboot with 2017’s Jigsaw, which debuted to $16.6M. As with Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer, Spiral’s fan-driven debut suggests a tamer sophomore weekend. Although, with no new releases set for this weekend, holdovers could be stronger than expected (even with the film’s mixed reception).
Despite being less popular than the headliner, the other three new films still placed among the top 10. Warner Bros.’ Those Who Wish Me Dead eased into third place with $2.8M, alongside its HBO Max debut. Roadside Attractions’ Finding You conjured up $954K for 8th place. Finally, Focus Features’ Profile earned $670K, squeezing into 9th place. None of these titles are tentpole films; these titles are targeted at certain demos and so smaller openings are to be expected. These films are just an appetizer before the big names of A Quiet Place II, Cruella (and the rest of the summer line-up) hit the table.
Amid theater re-openings, studios and theaters are being more experimental with streamers. Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, from Netflix, opened in Cinemark (and a handful of other theater chains) as part of an exclusive one-week deal before the film moves on to streaming from May 21 onward. We may see more “high-profile” Netflix films premiering in theaters first. Army of the Dead collected an impressive $780K at the box-office from ~430 locations, per Deadline. Netflix does not report their box office numbers, but it is being reported that Army of the Dead is the biggest theatrical opening weekend for a Netflix movie.
Last Thursday, Disney confirmed that not all of its upcoming movies will have a hybrid Disney Plus release – or skip theaters altogether (as with Pixar’s Soul and Luca). Free Guy (August 13) starring Ryan Reynolds and Marvel’s Shang-Chi (September 3) will both be getting an exclusive theatrical window of 45 days. Disney has experimented with day-and-date releases on Disney Plus all pandemic – most recently scheduling Jungle Cruise for theaters and Disney Plus Premier Access on July 30 – but seems to be planning on a return to a “normalized” distribution cycle.
That’s great news for exhibitors that have been fighting Disney on their stiff terms for the day-and-date releases. Cinemark refused to play Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon at all back in March. Thankfully, exhibitors and the major studios seem to be making peace. Following Cinemark’s agreements with the five major studios, Regal has also inked new deals with Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal. The nation’s second largest exhibitor confirmed that they will play Disney’s upcoming Cruella, Black Widow, and Jungle Cruise despite the day-and-date release.
Two weeks ahead of Cruella and A Quiet Place II making theaters a less quiet place, the industry is banging the back-to-cinemas drumroll. “There’s nothing like that moment when the lights go down,” recounts Vin Diesel in the latest F9 trailer. “Nobody does a comeback like the movies”, Diesel continued. The momentum has been building for a while. Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar spot is playing to both commemorate the industry’s workers and invite moviegoers back to see movies on the big screen – “the way you’ve always loved them, is the way to see them again”.
Of course, nobody does a sales pitch quite like Marvel. Big screen entertainment is on the way back, “higher, further, faster baby” – and Marvel’s upcoming slate is going to help fuel that drive to the theater thru at least 2023.