Box Office: ‘Black Widow’ Falters, ‘Space Jam’ Falls 69%
Walt Disney’s Black Widow earned another $11.6 million in weekend three, dropping 55% for a new $154 million 17-day cume. That’s the fastest sprint to $150 million amid the pandemic, for what that’s worth. Last weekend’s 67% second-weekend drop was not followed by the legs afforded to Ant-Man and the Wasp and Spider-Man: Homecoming after their large 62% second-weekend drops on this Fri-Sun frame in 2018 and 2017. There are many factors as to “why.” Think Disney+ availability, a worsening pandemic in certain parts of the country and copious theatrical competition. A solo prequel flick starring a dead Avenger many years after it should have been made wasn’t precisely the post-Endgame MCU movie for which everyone was waiting
Even in ideal times, I’d have argued for final grosses closer to Doctor Strange ($677 million in 2016) or Ant-Man and the Wasp ($620 million in 2018) than Thor: Ragnarok ($854 million) or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($869 million). Black Widow was always supposed to be unfinished business, followed by seemingly stand-alone flicks (Eternals and Shang-Chi). Phase Four would “really” begin via the first batch of Disney+ television shows (especially WandaVision and Loki), followed by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in summer 2021. Yes, Black Widow is absolutely a box office disappointment. It may not pass $180 million domestic. With $315 million worldwide, it’ll be lucky to crack $400 million global without a not-guaranteed China release.
While the Disney+ revenue ($60 million globally on the opening weekend plus whatever it’s earned since then, with Disney getting 85% of the money) certainly helped, we should remember that the Premier Access earnings are not new money. It’s money that otherwise would have been spent in theater or down the line on EST, VOD or DVD. It’s still likely to be the summer’s biggest domestic earner (unless Shang-Chi impresses on Labor Day). I don’t think the contextual underperformance of Black Widow means “Marvel is doomed!” any more than Pixar was “doomed!” after The Good Dinosaur or Cars 3. Marvel may have its first post-Incredible Hulk flop, but at least it has a few excuses.
Come what may, Malcolm D. Lee’s Space Jam: A New Legacy was a one-weekend wonder. I will admit being impressed at the $31 million opening posted by the LeBron James/Bugs Bunny sequel last weekend, if only because the buzz seemed non-existent and the reviews were expectedly poor. Again, that’s where the whole “successful disappointment” thing comes in. In regular times, a $31 million launch for a $150 million kid-targeted sci-fi comedy would be a disappointment bordering on disaster. But on a Covid curve, it was at least another case of a big Warner Bros. flick over-performing pre-release projections on the opening weekend despite the pandemic and the HBO Max factor. But a 69% drop is pretty bad under any circumstance.
With $9.5 million in weekend two, Space Jam: A New Legacy has earned $50 million domestic (after a $12.6 million overseas weekend, a decent -37% drop) and $94 million worldwide. With nine overseas markets scheduled for the next two months, including Japan (August 27) and Italy (September 23), this one could eke out a $150 million global cume, which would at least somewhat save face amid the current ever-changing (worsening?) circumstances. But it would appear that the folks who wanted to see Space Jam: A New Legacy in theaters did so last weekend, with the rest either not bothering or watching it on HBO Max. The movie was always a commercial coin toss. So is, good buzz notwithstanding, The Suicide Squad.
F9, the one unmitigated summer season tentpole hit, grossed $4.6 million (-40%) in weekend five for a $163.3 million domestic cume. Black Widow will eventually catch it domestically, but the MCU prequel may not come anywhere near Fast & Furious 9’s $621 million-and-counting global cume. Barring surprises in either direction, it looks like F9 will end with around $655 million worldwide. That’s way below the $1.236 billion cume of Fate of the Furious, but it may end up closer to Hobbs & Shaw ($760 million) than previously presumed. Come what may, it should end up just over/under the $173 million cume of Hobbs & Shaw while potentially becoming the leggiest straight-up Fast Saga sequel since Tokyo Drift ($63 million/$24 million in 2006).
Sadly, Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions dropped 61% in weekend two with a $3.4 million weekend and $16.04 million ten-day cume. Universal’s Boss Baby: Family Business grossed $2.69 million (-43%) in weekend four for a $50.122 million cume, or about what the first film opened to back in 2017. The Forever Purge grossed $2.3 million (-44%) in weekend four even as it arrived on PVOD for a $40.306 million 24-day cume. Considering the franchise-low $12.5 million launch, this surprisingly leggy horror sequel will get a lot closer to The Purge ($64 million in 2013 from a $34 million launch). A Quiet Place part II lost 628 theaters in weekend nine, earning around $1.09 million (-51%) in 1,367 theaters for a $157.37 million domestic cume.