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The North American box office is making major noise as Memorial Day weekend unfolds.
John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II grossed $19.3 million on Friday and $14.9 million on Saturday from 3,752 theaters for a projected four-day weekend debut of $57 million. That includes a three-day gross of $47.4 million. (Those estimates could shift by Tuesday.)
All are the biggest domestic numbers in the pandemic-era and — more significantly — are almost on par with the first Quiet Place, which posted a three-day debut of $50.2 million in 2018. The sequel’s loud performance is a victory for Paramount and the theatrical experience and proves that the box office is righting itself after 15 months of being ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis.
A Quiet Place II has the advantage of getting an exclusive theatrical release before hitting sister streaming service Paramount+ in 45 days. As part of the marketing campaign, Krasinski completed a six-city tour surprising audiences in order to promote the big screen experience.
“This is a huge win for theatrical,” says Paramount distribution president Chris Aronson. “The theatrical business has been changed numerous times throughout history but never to the point where theaters was shut down for months and months.”
Adds Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian: “It’s quite astounding that A Quiet Place Part II could generate the kind of box office that would be considered impressive in the pre-pandemic era and rank this performance in the top echelon of horror movie debuts.”
Overseas, the horror-thriller took in $22 million from its first six markets for a global start of at least $80 million through Monday. It launched in China to $14.9 million, not far behind the $17.5 million opening for the 2018 film (Fast & Furious installment F9 continued to dominate in the Middle Kingdom).
Fellow Memorial Day offering Cruella is doing solid business at the domestic box office for a title that’s also available in the home. (It is launching simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney+ Premier Access for $30.)
Cruella, playing in 3,982 theaters, is projecting a four-day opening of $26.5 million, including $21.3 million for the three days. The family-friendly origin pic stars Emma Stone as the infamous Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians.
“This is a great result for Cruella. It’s not just about opening weekend for family films, and we always knew we’d be No. 2. We’re in great, great shape for a long run,” says Disney theatrical distribution chief Tony Chambers.
Overseas — where the recovery varies dramatically depending on the country — it took in $16.1 million from 29 markets for a global start of $42.6 million. (It doesn’t open in China until June 6.)
Heading into the weekend, most thought the ceiling for A Quiet Place Part II was $40 million, considering the substantial challenges still facing the box office. Nearly 30 percent of theaters are still closed in North America — a large number are in Canada — and many locations that are reopened face capacity restrictions.
Thanks to A Quiet Place II and Cruella, Memorial Day weekend’s overall revenue in North America will be north of $100 million, another boost for the film and exhibition industries.
“This is a giant leap forward from where the industry has been throughout the past year, and a table-setting weekend for what sustained recovery will look like throughout summer and beyond. The optics and symbolism of large audiences safely returning to cinemas outweigh the box office dollars themselves, but these numbers are still quite impressive even by pre-pandemic standards,” says analyst Shawn Robbins.
Disney’s last live-action reimagining, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, opened to $37 million domestically.
As the box recovers, Disney — like Warner Bros. — is hedging its bets on some titles and experimenting with day-and-date releases. Unlike box office grosses, most companies don’t divulge streaming viewership numbers.
“We”ll never know exactly by how much the premium streaming option cut into box office performance, only that it has likely done so to an undefined extent,” Robbins says.
Both films are crowd pleasers and female-skewing: Krasinski’s film, starring Emily Blunt, earned an A- CinemaScore from audiences (the original got a B+), while Cruella received an A.
A Quiet Place Part II skewed slightly male (53 percent). The vast majority of ticket buyers were between ages ticket buyers, 57 percent were between ages 18-44. The pic also played to an ethnically diverse audience (44 percent Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 16% African American and 9% Asian).
While more kids obviously turned out to see Cruella, that film also drew a hearty number of younger adults (41 percent of all ticket buyers were between ages 18-34).
Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong boasted the previous biggest bow of the pandemic era with a five-day debut of $48 million, including $30 million for the three-day weekend.
Elsewhere, F9 crossed the $200 million mark internationally, where it debuted in select markets ahead of its domestic launch. The action pic took in $30.9 million for an early foreign total of $229 million, including $185 million from China. F9 dropped a steep 80 percent overall in its second weekend.
Sony is also first opening Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway in select markets overseas. The family sequel has earned a total of $36.8 million from 11 markets so far, including $10.8 million from the U.K., where cinemas have reopened in recent days.
May 31, 7:20: Updated with revised numbers.
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