Shawn Levy's Free Guy has had a long, strange road to the big screen. The project was one of the 20th Century Fox projects that saw its development and production play out amidst the blockbuster merger with Disney, and while the studio has consistently demonstrated confidence in the movie, that attitude has primarily been visible because of the constant release date delays during the COVID-19 pandemic. The video game-inspired film starring Ryan Reynolds was originally dated to come out on July 3, 2020, a.k.a. over a year ago, but now it is finally playing in theaters, and it appears to be doing quite well. Check out the numbers behind its opening weekend below, along with the rest of the Top 10, and join me after for analysis!
Unlike Craig Gillespie's Cruella and Cate Shortland's Black Widow, Disney made the decision not to make Free Guy one of their hybrid theatrical/streaming releases, and it seems that the strategy is successfully getting butts in seats. There were predictions last week (from Deadline, for example) that suggested the movie would be very fortunate to make as much as $20 million in its first three days, but the movie wound up demolishing those expectations with its $28.4 million haul. You may notice that total isn't much bigger than the amount that James Gunn's The Suicide Squad took in last weekend, but context explains why one is viewed a success and the other a disappointment. For starters there is the budget, as the DC Comics blockbuster cost at least $60 million more to make according to reported numbers; but far more significant is the fact that it's a comparison between established IP and an original feature.
Soon, however, Free Guy will itself be considered part of Disney's family of intellectual properties, as the studio has already expressed their satisfaction with the movie's performance. Late Saturday night, following on the heels of an impressive opening night, Ryan Reynolds announced to his followers on Twitter that interest in a sequel was already being expressed – though when exactly we may get a Free Guy 2 is unclear. The film itself still has a road ahead of it to become profitable (it may have cost less to make than The Suicide Squad, but it still carries a nine-digit price tag), but it appears to be on the right path.
With the market still depressed by the continued existence of COVID-19 (especially now due to the increasing Delta variant numbers), Free Guy will need to demonstrate some legs in order to be totally successful – and there will be a lot of industry eyes on it next week looking at its performance. This summer has seen a rough pattern emerge surrounding the biggest blockbuster releases, the issue being major profit drop-offs from weekend-to-weekend. Both Black Widow and Malcolm D. Lee's Space Jam: A New Legacy saw ticket sales fall off to the extreme after respectively winning box office crowns domestically, and while a number of analysts have blamed this on their hybrid distribution models, one can't ignore that Justin Lin's F9 suffered a similar fate in late June/early July without being available on streaming.
Will Free Guy be able to join F9, John Krasinski's A Quiet Place Part II, and Darren Lynn Bousman's Spiral: From The Book Of Saw as one of the few titles to keep the top spot two weekends in a row in summer 2021? We'll have to wait and see.
Staying on the subject of Hollywood blockbusters that have seen extreme falloff from one Friday-to-Sunday to the next, it's with extreme disappointment that we also have to report that The Suicide Squad is the latest movie to fall victim to the trend. Those who regularly follow box office news know that in normal times productions keep their fingers crossed that they will only see a 40 percent dip in box office in a sophomore weekend, but the latest film from the DC Extended Universe has become one of a handful of titles this summer to suffer far worse fates. The $7.5 million the James Gunn movie has made since this past Friday translates a 71 percent drop, which is not anything anybody related to or rooting for the film was hoping to see. It's possible that it is doing tremendously well streaming on HBO Max – getting high traffic and boosting subscriber numbers following a week of building buzz – but we have no idea if that's the case because the streaming service doesn't make a habit of releasing statistics.
Obviously part of the reason why The Suicide Squad dipped in the rankings is because this weekend saw a trio of notable new releases – and while Free Guy successfully beat out all of its competition, Rodo Sayagues' Don't Breathe 2 and Liesl Tommy's Respect had decent openings. In the case of the former, the numbers don't look all that great when you consider that Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe made about $16 million more in its opening frame back in 2016, but independently it is more than on track to be profitable on paper thanks to the production's low budget (it's relatively inexpensive to shoot a movie that really only has two locations and films in Serbia). Respect was a bit more pricy to make, costing $55 million according to Variety, but it's also not exactly a title that you expect to open massive during the summer season. Could it have done better had United Artists decided to delay the release date until deep into awards season? Possibly, but that wasn't the road taken (it's worth noting that the schedule isn't exactly wide open).
Sitting right among the new releases and holding on tight to the Top 5 is also Jaume Collet-Serra's Jungle Cruise, which has done a solid job thus far avoiding the summer 2021 curse (despite the fact that it is presently available both in theaters and on Disney+ via Premier Access). The film didn't precisely have the most amazing second weekend, still falling 55 percent, but that's amazing compared to the other aforementioned blockbusters this season. Holding on to third place and only dropping one spot in the rankings, the movie has not only made $81.2 million to date domestically, but also $21.7 million abroad for a worldwide total of $138.6 million.
Looking ahead, we have another mixed bag of releases set to hit the big screen on Friday that should provide something for everybody. If you're looking for scares David Bruckner's The Night House should be your go-to; for action you can enjoy Martin Cambell's The Protege; for families there is Cal Brunker's Paw Patrol: The Movie; and those looking for a sci-fi mystery can take in Lisa Joy's Reminiscence. Our box office column will be back next Sunday to examine how things shift in the Top 10, so be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend then.
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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