Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: Free Guy Scores Best Pandemic Opening for Original Movie with $28.4 Million

With a sequel already announced, the Ryan Reynolds flick is leveling up the box office. Plus: the numbers for Don't Breathe 2, The Suicide Squad, and Respect on the weekend of August 13-15, 2021.

by | August 15, 2021 | Comments

The industry was holding its breath to see how this weekend’s new theatrical exclusive entries would perform. This weekend was the first time during the pandemic that three new movies were released in over 2,000 theaters without a single streaming entity making them available at home. With COVID-19 cases again on the rise, the weekend was likely going to be a barometer for studios to decide how to manage their fall and holiday releases. We’re not out of the woods yet, but one film did just enough to allow those eyeing delays on their schedules to exhale for a moment.

King of the Crop: Free Guy Passes Pandemic Test and Gives Theaters Much-Needed Hope

Everything is on notice after The Suicide Squad underperformed last week. If a high-concept, (mostly) family-friendly film like Free Guy that can only be seen in theaters could not pull in a decent number this weekend, just how willing would the folks behind No Time To Die, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Top Gun: Maverick be to gamble on reduced attendance if the COVID-19 numbers kept trending upwards?

Hope was struck on Friday morning when the numbers showed that Free Guy, which Disney took on after acquiring Fox but did not make available via Premier Access on Disney+, sold $2.2 million worth of tickets Thursday night. With those numbers in hand it was time to start predicting the weekend haul. Charting 16 PG-13 films that had previously grossed $2 million-$2.4 million in Thursday night previews, the average opening gross was $30.5 million; only three of those films went on to have weekends under $20 million, and, of the five that opened over $30 million, four of them were sequels. So between $20 million and $30 million felt right for Free Guy. Earlier in the week, many felt anything under $25 million would give industry folk pause, but when analysts began downgrading expectations to under $20 million, the film was given a solid cushion to land on. When the numbers came in on Sunday, revealing Free Guy pulled in $28.4 million for the weekend, it felt like a real triumph.

Free Guy

(Photo by 20th Century Studios)

That is the seventh-best opening of the pandemic and not just better than The Suicide Squad last week, but actually the best opening for an original film. (The word “original” being used a little loosely here as one can recognize Tron, Wreck-It-Ralph, The Truman Show, and They Live amongst its influences. But, still, unlike Black Widow, F9, A Quiet Place Part II, Jungle Cruise, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Space Jam: A New Legacy, it is neither a sequel, prequel, reboot, nor based on existing IP – like a ride.)

It is too soon to call the legs on this one. No film yet that has made less than $60 million in its first 10 days during the pandemic has reached $100 million. Then again, Free Guy is likely to remain no. 1 for a second straight week, remain in the top five for its first full month, and stick around in the top 10 at least until the beginning of October. It will all depend how severe the drops are, which will likely be based on how comfortable everyone continues to be going to theaters.

Rotten Returns: The Suicide Squad May Not Finish the Mission 

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Whether it’s concern over the rise of the Delta variant, the lure of staying home and catching it on HBO Max, or some lack of interest in the latest DCEU movie – despite it being Certified Fresh at 91%, among the best-reviewed movies in that universe – The Suicide Squad continues to underperform. The movie experienced a 70% drop from last weekend and fell to fifth place with $7.7 million. With just $42.9 million in its first 10 days, it is trailing what The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It had in the bank at the same time (not to mention that movie scored a $10.3 million second weekend). Looking at August releases historically, The Suicide Squad is charting a similar-looking path to the 2012 remake of Total Recall, which dropped 68.7% in its second weekend to $8 million and had $44.1 million. It finished with $58.8 million. As suggested last week, in normal times without a pandemic and without a day-and-date streaming option, The Suicide Squad would have likely had an opening weekend higher than that even with the most conservative of estimates. With those variables in place it appears it may not even top $60 million total.

The Top 10 and Beyond: Jungle Cruise On Track to be Disney’s Second Pandemic $100 Million Movie

Jungle Cruise

(Photo by courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Last week we gave Disney’s Jungle Cruise a puncher’s chance of making it to $100 million and it is definitely punching. It made $9 million this weekend, giving it $82 million after 17 days; that is a great number in that no film released in July or August to have at least $80 million in that stretch failed to eventually clear $100 million. It would be Disney’s second film with a simultaneous Disney+ Premier Access release, after Black Widow, to reach the milestone. Cruella, which had a similar release and just signed Emma Stone for a sequel, is also the sixth highest-grossing film of the pandemic with over $85 million.

Moving over to the new titles of the week. Don’t Breathe 2‘s $10.6 million may have looked good when the best the genre was getting was The Unholy and Separation. But the pandemic has given us a mild stretch with the third Conjuring, The Forever Purge, and Old, in which fans seemed ready to make the genre something of a box office over-performer. Still, Don’t Breathe 2 looks to be more in the Spiral and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions realm, a sequel few people felt they needed, and which could underperform. That $10.6 million start (aided in part by a “hey, let’s go see it on Friday the 13th” contingent) is far less than the original’s triumphant $26.4 million start in August 2016 on its way to over $89 million. The sequel will be hopeful to end up in the $25 million-$30 million range.

The release of the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, with Jennifer Hudson, delivered something of a blow to the kind of mid-range films for adults – which could be the big box office story going forward coming out of 2021. The ceiling is not being raised for these films and the $8.8 million Respect made is more evidence that age groups outside of those typically targeted by studios are taking their time when it comes to a night out at the movies. M. Night Shyamalan’s Old breaking $43 million feels like a legit standout at this point versus all the IP making up the current theatrical cashflow. In the Heights, Wrath of Man, and Nobody all earned between $27 million and $30 million (all better than Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins), and Respect may join them, but how long will studios hold on to these kind of alternatives as theatrical exclusives (Heights notwithstanding) before day-and-date streaming helps them out sooner?

On the Vine: Action, Mystery, Thrills, and the Paw Patrol

Arguably the biggest title opening on a very crowded weekend will be Paw Patrol: The Movie. But with it streaming concurrently on Paramount+, how much of a splash will this really make? (Remember that Paramount moved Clifford the Big Red Dog off the schedule from September due to “Delta concerns” but left this one to take its chances in August.) One thing Paw Patrol has on its side? A 100% Fresh Tomatometer Score, so far. Also streaming while in theaters next week is the Hugh Jackman sci-fi tale, Reminiscence. It will be on HBO Max. That leaves a pair of R-rated thrillers to take a shot at the mid-range crowd. Lionsgate’s The Protégé, from action director Martin Campbell, stars Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson. And then there is David Bruckner’s The Night House, from Searchlight Pictures; the horror film premiered at Sundance in 2020 and currently has a Fresh Tomatometer score of 84%.

Full List of Box Office Results: August 13-15, 2021

  • $28.4 million ($28.4 million total)

  • $10.6 million ($10.6 million total)

  • $9 million ($82.1 million total)

  • $8.8 million ($8.8 million total)

  • $7.8 million ($42.9 million total)

  • $2.4 million ($43 million total)

  • $2 million ($178.2 million total)

  • $1.3 million ($12.5 million total)

  • $1.2 million ($14.7 million total)

  • $1.1 million ($68 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

comics Legendary WarnerMedia FXX Hear Us Out Comic-Con@Home 2021 History Film ratings TV renewals legend Spike USA Network sopranos cops VOD remakes comic book movies The Walt Disney Company films TCM 73rd Emmy Awards Netflix RT History spinoff Funimation heist movie hollywood golden globes Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Cosplay San Diego Comic-Con elevated horror Sundance TV Disney streaming service pirates of the caribbean romance parents spanish language anthology dceu Tarantino GLAAD Travel Channel technology Netflix Christmas movies Trophy Talk Infographic BET YouTube historical drama target Exclusive Video Discovery Channel Comedy Central diversity Hallmark obituary directors indiana jones movie TV new star wars movies FX on Hulu Peacock TV Land Mary poppins wonder woman emmy awards saw TCA franchise trophy italian Musicals crossover CBS zombies Polls and Games cancelled BBC One TV One X-Men Syfy Action worst Ghostbusters Captain marvel spider-man strong female leads award winner Spectrum Originals adaptation action-comedy leaderboard chucky dreamworks richard e. Grant worst movies tv talk cartoon Marvel Television Tokyo Olympics Year in Review Black Mirror criterion ViacomCBS free movies crime drama Valentine's Day indie Star Wars TCA Winter 2020 debate APB satire CW Seed NYCC gangster hist rt labs critics edition HBO Max name the review vs. space Emmy Nominations Pet Sematary Musical AMC Plus Logo thriller Winter TV king arthur zero dark thirty mockumentary revenge canceled TV shows Walt Disney Pictures social media LGBTQ SDCC streaming Binge Guide superman MSNBC cults facebook The Witch scorecard National Geographic comic SXSW comic book movie Western a nightmare on elm street sports 2018 critic resources WGN See It Skip It Marathons DGA what to watch laika adenture Paramount Plus foreign HBO AMC stoner cancelled TV shows reboot Sundance nature blockbuster GoT versus TLC American Society of Cinematographers Crunchyroll Tumblr A24 Apple TV+ comic books Disney+ Disney Plus know your critic Box Office prank Ellie Kemper psycho BET Awards classics suspense cinemax TBS Writers Guild of America japanese Chilling Adventures of Sabrina marvel comics romantic comedy NBA docuseries Pop scary Holidays Britbox Premiere Dates olympics hidden camera miniseries Disney Channel deadpool IFC Fox News live action Bravo PaleyFest trailers sag awards Baby Yoda Adult Swim 45 90s 20th Century Fox comiccon TCA Awards child's play stand-up comedy aliens royal family Starz news transformers CMT Lifetime Christmas movies critics First Look Trailer ABC Signature Red Carpet Photos BBC America politics Pacific Islander 72 Emmy Awards discovery Music science fiction Mindy Kaling rom-coms medical drama 24 frames Pixar Mary Tyler Moore Vudu Stephen King Country Podcast biopic Teen doctor who political drama green book spain game of thrones true crime 71st Emmy Awards justice league Dark Horse Comics boxing Biopics Thanksgiving ABC Family Classic Film Television Academy binge hispanic heritage month TIFF Tubi art house Esquire DC Universe Marvel Studios streaming movies Lucasfilm harry potter international Amazon Studios Arrowverse Rom-Com Epix Toys Quiz Winners ITV ABC series VICE Christmas best die hard The Academy japan book adaptation archives Acorn TV Election latino popular 007 RT21 new york Trivia Sneak Peek Holiday rt archives kaiju Spring TV black comedy Sci-Fi Schedule Superheroe period drama Film Festival DC Comics sitcom Nominations basketball Kids & Family Rocky video on demand telelvision Universal Showtime robots mcc Mudbound Lifetime asian-american toronto E! Pride Month Grammys 21st Century Fox Star Trek CNN cancelled TV series blockbusters dragons 2021 sequels Pirates Apple TV Plus Awards Disney Plus monster movies Elton John Apple vampires The Walking Dead Warner Bros. composers Ovation mission: impossible television police drama President Set visit slashers jamie lee curtis psychological thriller ghosts boxoffice animated Neflix El Rey cars unscripted Animation disaster Family cats dc documentary Rocketman spanish Best and Worst docudrama IMDb TV documentaries 2016 Chernobyl 2019 The CW slasher Reality Competition VH1 fresh Cannes all-time Brie Larson OWN Masterpiece james bond finale reviews screenings football Crackle Academy Awards game show crime nbcuniversal Disney 93rd Oscars spider-verse Image Comics Emmys french rt labs DC streaming service golden globe awards Shondaland genre sequel Interview children's TV mutant new zealand Comedy based on movie Wes Anderson Amazon IFC Films TNT supernatural Fall TV nfl Extras Turner Classic Movies anime universal monsters halloween dramedy joker theme song canceled hispanic TCA 2017 book live event war Opinion 2015 Rock quibi PBS australia MCU NBC Super Bowl mob dexter renewed TV shows Paramount Columbia Pictures high school cancelled television Women's History Month serial killer feel good fast and furious GIFs aapi The Purge E3 Summer Nat Geo movies blaxploitation FOX Broadway Video Games Food Network YouTube Red Pop TV teaser Television Critics Association independent Character Guide biography Nickelodeon Avengers Martial Arts Anna Paquin christmas movies kids godzilla Amazon Prime TV movies festivals ID Comics on TV comedies werewolf superhero talk show DirecTV singing competition Certified Fresh Lionsgate stop motion screen actors guild TruTV venice Hallmark Christmas movies Oscars marvel cinematic universe Sony Pictures Reality women Awards Tour black travel BBC USA Black History Month MTV rotten PlayStation YA 1990s Horror toy story Hulu BAFTA Countdown young adult Creative Arts Emmys Fox Searchlight rotten movies we love New York Comic Con breaking bad Fantasy lord of the rings dark Instagram Live witnail dogs scene in color Turner Mary Poppins Returns Alien Universal Pictures razzies 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards festival posters Endgame Marvel CBS All Access Mystery casting Amazon Prime Video jurassic park 99% Tomatazos Sundance Now Shudder natural history ESPN south america zombie kong video concert Fargo Drama The Arrangement FX adventure LGBT Song of Ice and Fire Heroines Cartoon Network crime thriller OneApp spy thriller twilight HBO Go Superheroes Watching Series SundanceTV king kong First Reviews scary movies 2017 cooking 4/20 batman Paramount Network Calendar 2020 A&E halloween tv Comic Book Freeform YouTube Premium