It was not a notable weekend at the box office. Though the same-day streaming question certainly comes into play for one particular title, it was not a factor for the new films which led the way with some historic lows. How much new concerns over rising COVID cases across the country factored into the overall poor box office is something to take into consideration. But it might also have just been a lack of interest in the two new major titles on offer.
(Photo by © Universal Pictures)
Most analysts gave the edge to a certain G.I. Joe character this weekend. Then it looked like it could be a toss-up for the top slot. Ultimately, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, Old, won handily. (Well, “handily” by just $1.7 million, but considering estimates had Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins leading with a much wider gap it was a clear and surprising reversal.)
While it may surprise those chiming in on the frequent discourse over the director’s output, Old‘s weekend haul of $16.5 million is actually the lowest opening for any of his films since his breakthrough of The Sixth Sense back in 1999. The last two entries in his Unbreakable trilogy, Split and Glass, opened to $40 million and $40.3 million, respectively, in 2017 and 2019. Before this weekend, his lowest opening was Lady in the Water’s $18 million, which went on to take a career-low overall $42.28 million. That was the start of four straight losers at the box office for Shyamalan, including The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth. The filmmaker had found a bit of career resurgence starting with The Visit in 2015 kicking off a recent string of low-budget, high-concept films that turned a healthy profit.
On the glass half-full side, Old is another low-budget effort ($18 million) that may seem a bit disappointing at the moment but is hardly going to rattle Universal’s books. The half-empty side is actually more on the theatrical industry seeing as how Old is the lowest-grossing film to debut at number 1 in July in 25 years since A Time To Kill on the weekend of July 26, 1996, which actually coincided with the Atlanta Olympics that year. (This stat does not include last year when movie theaters were mostly closed.) That John Grisham adaptation actually went on to gross over $108 million, something Old will not come close to doing, but this is the third weekend since Memorial Day that the leading film grossed under $17 million.
(Photo by Ed Araquel/Paramount Pictures)
Paramount moved Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins into Summer from its originally re-scheduled October date. Not that the numbers would have looked any better three months from now, but a $13.3 million start in July for an $88 million-budgeted film must have someone wondering if they could have sold it to Amazon when they were having a fire sale (Coming 2 America, Without Remorse, The Tomorrow War). This is surely about more than just rising Delta variants, though, when you consider that The Rise of Cobra opened to $54.7 million in 2009 and Retaliation started with $40.5 million in 2013. That’s eight years since the last film and this is basically the second attempt to reboot the whole franchise and there have only been three movies. Perhaps the studio can take some comfort that critics have been slightly kinder to it (42% on the Tomatmeter) than the 35% and 28% Tomatometer scores of the previous films.
Also qualifying is Roadside’s pick-up of Joe Bell (formerly Good Joe Bell), from Solstice Studios, which was anything but good this weekend with both a 37% on the Tomatometer and a place out of the top 10 with just $707,000 in 1,094 theaters for only a $646 per-screen-average – that is the lowest per-screen-average for any film released in over 1,000 theaters this year behind Land ($731) and Voyagers ($700).
(Photo by © Warner Bros. )
The weekend was actually nearly even worse for Space Jam: A New Legacy, which became just the 10th film ever to open to over $30 million and have a second weekend under $10 million. A 69% drop from last week’s $31.7 million to this week’s $9.5 million actually makes it the first “PG”-rated family film to join this league. Look at the company it has now joined:
Twenty-five years ago, Michael Jordan’s Space Jam had a 41% drop over Thanksgiving weekend to $16.2 million. LeBron James’ Space Jam: A New Legacy is now looking more like The Purge: Anarchy, which opened to $29.8 million and dropped 64.8% to $10.4 million and had $51.8 million in the bank after 10 days. A New Legacy stands at $51.4 million and if it continues along this pace will end up somewhere around $70 million. The bright side is it will be the second highest-grossing film domestically for Warner Bros./HBO Max along with the highest-grossing non-PG-13-rated family film this year. The down side is the $150 million-budgeted film will not come close to breaking even, nor matching the $90 million/$230 million domestic/worldwide haul of the Jordan film.
For the time being it appears that $175 million may be the new throne standard for films in the pandemic hybrid era. A Quiet Place Part II is not going to get there but still remains the most impressive earner of this period. Black Widow, which has its eyes on the throne, fell another 55% this weekend down to $11.6 million. Its total stands at $154.8 million, which squeaks it into the top 25 all-time July releases after 17 days. The Marvel film’s third weekend is a bit more then what The Amazing Spider-Man made in weekend three, though that film ranks 14th on the aforementioned list with $217.7 million. However, if you compare the film to Star Trek Beyond, which had a $10 million third weekend with $127 million in the bank, Black Widow’s final number could be closer to $185 million. It has grossed over $314 million worldwide, but its odds of reaching $200 million domestically have significantly decreased. Current throne holder, F9, stands at $163 million after five weeks and is also forging a similar pace with Star Trek Beyond, which had a $3.9 million in its fifth weekend. F9 made $4.46 million and looks to be stalling out, as expected over the past several weeks, at right around $175 million.
Down the list, Universal is watching The Boss Baby: Family Business and The Forever Purge settle into the $55 million and $45 million regions. Sony is not having any greater success with their sequel, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which can only hope to hit $20 million at this point. The Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner, managed to stay another weekend in the top 10 and is up to $3.7 million.
Next week has something for families and adult moviegoers up and down. Leading the way, no doubt, will be the latest Disney ride-turned-motion-picture, Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The film should easily take the number 1 slot, but will also be competing against itself with $30 Premier Access on Disney+. Exclusively in theaters will be Oscar-winner Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater with Matt Damon on a quest to Marseilles find out the truth over his Amanda Knox-like daughter played by Abigail Breslin. Then you can also look for David Lowery’s take on Arthurian legend with The Green Knight, starring Dev Patel, and Sony Classics releasing one of the best-reviewed films of Sundance 2020, Nine Days, featuring Winston Duke.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]