Friday Box Office: ‘Black Widow’ Finally Tops ‘Thor’ And ‘Ant-Man’

In holdover box office news for Friday, 20th Century Studios and Disney’s Free Guy earned $3.644 million (-29%) on its third Friday, bringing its domestic cume up to $69.399 million after 15 days of domestic play. The leggy and well-liked Ryan Reynolds/Jodie Comer video game comedy should earn another $13.3 million (-29%) in its third weekend for a solid $79 million 17-day cume. That is a terrific hold for a film that has overperformed expectations, both with or without a Covid curve, every step of the way. And with a likely $20 million opening weekend in China solidifying it as the first halfway decent Hollywood import outside of the surefire IP titles (F9 and Godzilla Vs. Kong) since Pixar’s Soul, the original, star+concept studio programmer remains a shining example of the value of theatrical windows.

But not so fast! Disney’s Jungle Cruise earned another $1.312 million (-26%) on Friday to bring its cume to $96.4 million. The Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt action fantasy will gross around $4.55 million (-28%) in weekend five to bring its cume just over/under $100 million domestic. This despite being concurrently available on Disney+ “Premier Access” and (as of this coming Tuesday) any and all relevant PVOD platforms. It’s another example of the solid legs for most Disney films (save for Black Widow) released this year, like Raya and the Last Dragon ($56 million from a $8.5 million debut) and Cruella ($86 million from a $26.5 million Fri-Mon Memorial Day weekend launch). It’s why I’m not that worried if Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens closer to Ant-Man ($58 million) than Doctor Strange ($88 million) next weekend.

Meanwhile, Paramount’s PAW Patrol Movie earned another $1.71 million (-62%) on Friday for a likely $6.52 million (-50%) second weekend. That gives the $26 million animated offshoot a $24 million ten-day total, even while it plays concurrently “for free” on Paramount+. Sony’s Don’t Breathe 2 earned $785,000 (-49%) for a likely $2.51 million (-50%) weekend and $24.244 million 17-day cume. We’re dealing with a sequel to a film that opened with $26 million five years ago, but it’s still a $10 million release so it’ll break even (at worst) in the end. Alas, MGM’s Respect (which debuted on VOD yesterday) earned $602,000 (-44%) on Friday for a likely $2.1 million (-45%) weekend and $19.56 million 17-day cume. The problem is that this Aretha Franklin biopic, starring Jennifer Hudson, cost $55 million to produce.

Likewise, one big reason I’m less than ecstatic about Jungle Cruise and downright apocalyptic about The Suicide Squad is because of their extremely high budgets. While Rampage, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level and San Andreas all cost between $90 million and $120 million, Jungle Cruise cost a whopping $200 million. And while Birds of Prey couldn’t cut it on even a $82 million budget (great movie, but $202 million worldwide does not a sequel make), James Gunn was given $185 million to make another Suicide Squad movie without Will Smith and sans any cameos by the Joker or Batman. As such, cue a $1.8 million (-47%) fourth weekend and $52.55 million 24-day total. And, yeah, I’m annoyed at how the industry reacted to what was always a commercial long shot.

Martin Campbell’s The Protégé, starring Maggie Q., Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton, earned another $470,000 (-58%) on its second Friday for a likely $1.56 million (-46%) second-weekend gross and $5.6 million ten-day total. Lionsgate will cover its distribution costs, but it won’t get Martin Campbell back on the A-list (unless he directs his third James Bond reboot for Daniel Craig’s replacement). Searchlight’s The Night House will earn $1.15 million (-60%) for a $5.112 million ten-day cume. M. Night Shyamalan’s Old will gross $790,000 (-31%) for a $46.462 million 38-day domestic cume. Alas, no such “what we say we want from Hollywood” miracles exist for Lisa Joy’s Reminiscence, as the Hugh Jackman sci-fi thriller will earn $770,000 (-61%) for a $3.464 million ten-day cume. I might argue Warner Bros. is going broke overestimating the taste of the American moviegoer.

Marvel’s Black Widow topped $180 million yesterday, with a likely weekend gross of $740,000 (-34%) and a domestic cume as of tomorrow of $181.4 million. So, yeah, inflation aside, it will top Thor ($181 million in 2011) and Ant-Man ($180 million in 2015) along with the already-passed domestic cumes of Captain America: The First Avenger ($176 million in 2011) and The Incredible Hulk ($132 million in 2008). I still argue that the film would have earned closer to Ant-Man and the Wasp ($216 million in 2018) than Thor: Ragnarok ($315 million in 2018) even in non-Covid/non-Disney+ circumstances, so the real hurt came from compromised overseas markets (and whatever they might have gotten out of China in normal circumstances. Oh well, Shang-Chi is looking to kick butt next weekend and I’d expect much longer legs for that one anyway.

The Tycoon Herald