After more than a decade of establishing precedent, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has more than earned its reputation for box office dominance. Not only does every blockbuster released as part of the franchise debut as the number one movie in North America, but they all have staying power that ensures that they end up among the highest grossing titles in any given year. Naturally there are a lot of expectations built out of this – and that's why it looks like Cate Shortland's Black Widow may be in a touch of trouble. The film did successfully have a massive debut when it first came out last weekend, shattering records and surpassing predictions, but the numbers in its second Friday-to-Sunday are not nearly as impressive, as Malcolm D. Lee's Space Jam: A New Legacy has easily stolen its box office crown. Check out the full Top 10 chart below, and continue below for full analysis.
It should be mentioned that it is not unheard of that a Marvel Cinematic Universe title would lose its number one seat in its second weekend. James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy was dethroned by Jonathan Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 2014 (though it eventually reclaimed the spot), and Genndy Tartakovsky's Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation's beat out Peyton Reed's Ant-Man And The Wasp in 2019. What is concerning about Black Widow's performance is just how steeply the numbers have fallen. While Guardians of the Galaxy fell about 55 percent and Ant-Man And The Wasp dropped about 61 percent in their respective defeats, the most recent MCU blockbuster went from making $80.3 million to $26.3 million – a drop of about 67 percent. That's serious.
Under normal circumstances, movies typically drop between 40 and 60 percent in their sophomore weekends, and while we're still not quite back to "normal" just yet, the circumstance is troublesome for both theaters and studios.
What should first be noted is that this is the second time in the last few weeks that one of the summer's most anticipated blockbusters has taken a dive off a cliff in its second Friday-to-Sunday. The first title to perform this not-so-great feat was Justin Lin's F9, as I noted in my box office column for the week. It too experienced a 67 percent drop, and at the time I questioned the impact of there being a lot of new box office competition (specifically coming from Everardo Gout's The Forever Purge and Tom McGrath's Boss Baby: Family Business), and the distraction of the holiday weekend.
In the case of Black Widow, obviously Space Jam: A New Legacy got a whole lot of attention from movie-goers (more on that front in a moment), but the other factor that can't be dismissed is that the Marvel movie isn't exclusively available in theaters. Last weekend Disney proudly announced that the previously mentioned $80.3 million made from the big screen domestically was paired with an additional haul of $60 million made from Premier Access availability on Disney+. At the time I enthusiastically remarked that it was a sign that there could be some harmony in the on-going war between cineplexes and streaming. Now, however, one has to wonder if the big screen debut was so large because everyone who wanted to see it in that premium presentation bought tickets last weekend – leaving everyone else interested in seeing the movie opting for the convenient internet option in later weeks, hence the steep box office drop.
Black Widow is definitely still making money from theaters, having made $264 million globally thus far (meaning it's just $1.5 million away from surpassing Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk in the franchise rankings), but these developments should hopefully have the executives at Disney rethinking the viability of the day-and-date strategy going forward, particularly as it pertains to the release of Marvel movies.
Like Black Widow, Space Jam: A New Legacy is also a day-and-date theatrical/streaming release, as it is also currently available on HBO Max (without an extra fee on top of subscription costs), but the news for the folks at Warner Bros. is a lot sunnier than for those at Disney. The $31.7 million it has made from the last three days isn't anywhere near enough for the movie to be called a record breaker during the pandemic, but it is on par with the performance of Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong earlier this year, which made around the same amount in the first weekend of April, and it is also the best performing family film of the current "era." The number also notably surpasses what the original Space Jam made back in 1996 (it brought in $27.5 million back then), though that doesn't account for inflation and the rise in ticket prices.
It's still going to be a minute before the new release is considered a total box office win, as Variety says that the movie was made for a grimace-inspiring $150 million – and it's thus far only made $54.7 million internationally. It may prove to have some legs, as parents will forever be looking for something to do with their kids in the summer time, but there are some notable titles set to be released on the big screen, and HBO Max streamers are definitely still going to siphon away ticket sales.
As for the other new releases for the week, Adam Robitel's Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions had a decent debut. It fell far short of matching its predecessor, as the original sincerely surprised in the early weeks of 2019 by making $18.2 million, but the ultimate key to its success will be that it only reportedly cost about $15 million to make (according to Deadline). Having made $8.8 million already domestically and $4.5 million from overseas markets, it is well on its way.
Morgan Neville's Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain also had a nice opening on the big screen, as it is pretty rare to see a documentary pop up on the Top 10 – let alone in the #8 position. The $1.9 million it has made is not going to put in on a road to $200 million-plus, a la Michael Jackson's This Is It or Fahrenheit 9/11, but it deserves commendation for getting on the board while playing in fewer than 1000 locations. It even managed to beat out the newest from Nicolas Cage, as while Michael Sarnoski's Pig didn't make nine-figures this weekend, it did still manage to secure tenth place.
Looking ahead to this upcoming Friday, theaters will be offering a nice and diverse collection of new releases including M. Night Shyamalan's horror movie Old, Robert Schwentke's action blockbuster Snake Eyes, and Reinaldo Marcus Green's Mark Wahlberg-starring drama Joe Bell. Where will they rank on the Top 10, and how will they perform against Black Widow, Space Jam, and the rest of the competition currently playing? Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to see how it all shakes out.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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