As more states have been willing to roll back overly restrictive pandemic standards and vaccinations against the Covid virus are rising, this country is finally returning to an area approaching normalcy. As evidence of this, and the citizens’ desire to break out and return to life as we know it, the movie theaters are exhibiting enthusiasm. This extended weekend — ushering in the summer season — 2 major studio films were released and there was rampant enthusiasm among the ticket buyers.
The paranormal thriller sequel “A Quiet Place Part 2” enjoyed an impressive debut, and that combined with Disney’s live-action origin story “Cruella”, starring Emma Stone, led to a healthier than expected box office. Things got off to a rousing start as Thursday’s sneak previews grossed $4.8 million for “Quiet Place”, a total that edged out those sneaks of the original film three years ago, at $4.3 million. This sequel was originally slated for release last March but was one of the early titles to be shelved as the pandemic was fully realized and theaters closed.
The 3 day total of just over $48 million will nearly match that of the original, which debuted at $50 million in 2018, and the Memorial Day returns are expected to add another $10 million. This performance is both a welcome surprise and a huge sigh of relief, for both the studios and the theaters. While “Quiet Place 2” is showing on slightly more screens than the original — 3,726, while the first was on just over 3,500 — this is a vastly different marketplace. In some states, theaters are still showing films on a varying limit-capacity basis, and you still have hesitancy among the ticket-buying audience, so this is a more impressive figure in some aspects.
This will come in as the first weekend to see a total box office of over $100 million in over a year. Another new mark was set in Imax theaters, which saw a $5 million total for the first time since the pandemic. There is also more encouragement for the theater owners, as the film also shows the strength of the release practice of exclusive theatrical showings. Paramount has this playing only in theaters, with the title moving to its new Paramount+ streaming platform in 45 days. While this is still a shorter window than the traditional 90 days-plus, it is an encouragement that theaters can still hold a premium on new releases.
By comparison, for “Cruella” Disney is doing about half of the revenue. Their origin story of the long-established villainess has a 3-day haul of $21.33 million, with a 4-day expectation of over $26 million. Disney hewed to the newer pandemic model of day-and-date release, as their movie is also available on the Disney+ service. Their title appears on about 200 more screens but the lower performance is likely driven down by the option of staying home to see the fresh film. This is going to lead to some very close inspection of performances as the summer unspools, with studios watching how the theater-versus home viewing ratios play out.
The coming month sees a flurry of boutique titles that should keep the fires going in theaters. Next weekend brings the next installment in the horror franchise, with “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” followed by Lin Miranda Manuel’s anticipated musical “In The Heights” on June 11, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson reteaming for “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” on June 16, and the long-awaited “Furious 9” on June 26. That latest entry in the car-centric franchise — which normally launches the summer and had been slated for late last spring — has already drawn in $200 million in foreign theaters.
That release will be regarded as the ultimate measure of things since that series has been a deeply dependable hit-maker over the years. If “F 9” can approach numbers like the previous entries then Hollywood will know that theaters can once again be the dependable revenue maker they have long been established as being for the industry.