In weekend box office news that isn’t about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, James Wan’s Malignant opened overseas in advance of its domestic debut. The R-rated original horror flick, essentially Wan’s “one for me” flick after Aquaman nabbed $1.148 billion worldwide, earned $2.4 million in 24 territories representing 38% of the overseas footprint. It nabbed $595,000 in Spain (+62% ahead of Candyman), $515,000 in France (10% ahead of Escape Room 2) and $200,000 in Italy (+83% higher than Candyman). The supernatural murder mystery, starring Annabelle Wallis in a kind of “Drop Dead Fred but with folks actually dropping dead” genre offering, opens domestically this Friday. Fingers-crossed, but otherwise I’m guessing if things go awry that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will make up the difference.
Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer’s Free Guy earned another $8.7 million (-33%) domestic in its third Fri-Sun frame. That sets the stage for a $11.2 million Fri-Mon gross and a $95 million 18-day cume. Moreover, it fell just 22% in China for an $18.6 million weekend and $57 million ten-day cume. As frankly predicted, China is relishing the video game-specific and American pop culture-inspired fantasy/comedy/romance, again showing that a China with plenty of local tentpoles prefer genuinely “foreign” films when it comes to selecting an export title. See also: Zootopia, Ready Player One and Green Book. It’ll pass Avatar ($57.6 million) and Soul ($57.9 million) tomorrow to stand behind only Tenet ($66 million), Godzilla Vs. Kong ($188 million) and F9 ($216 million) among Hollywood exports in 2020 and 2021.
The film has amassed $239.2 million worldwide thus far. Covid or no Covid, $300 million-plus for an over/under $115 million, original, star-driven high-concept flick is an absolute win. I’d have been happy with such a result even in conventional circumstances. We can debate the complicated issues at play with Disney moving forward with a Jungle Cruise sequel. The legs are great and it’ll have $107 million domestic tomorrow after a 24% drop in weekend six, but the Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt flick will barely top $200 million in global theatrical earnings (plus whatever it made on Disney+ Premier Access). Free Guy getting an eventual/likely sequel needs no detailed explanation other than “well-liked movie with fun characters made money in theaters.” It sounds so quaint and old-fashioned when I saw it out loud.
Universal’s Candyman took a somewhat expected drop, earning a $10.5 million (-54%) Fri-Sun and $13.26 million Fri-Mon second-weekend gross. The $25 million Nia DaCosta-directed horror sequel will have $42 million in 11 days and has earned $50 million worldwide. So far, so good. Paramount’s Paw Patrol (concurrently available on Paramount+) will earn $5.62 million over the holiday for a $31 million domestic and $62 million worldwide cume. That’s good enough on a $26 million budget. Sony’s Don’t Breathe 2 has earned $28 million domestic and $40 million worldwide on a $10 million budget, even as its predecessor earned $155 million five years ago. The Suicide Squad will earn $1 million over the Fri-Mon holiday for a $54.5 million 31-day domestic and $162 million worldwide cume as it exits HBO Max.
Black Widow will be just under $183 million domestic by tomorrow right as F9 is passing $173 million domestic (and $710 million worldwide). The Night House will have $6.4 million after 18 days following a $650,000 Fri-Mon frame as M. Night Shyamalan’s Old will earn $590,000 over the holiday for a $47.4 million (domestic and $85 million worldwide cume on an $18 million budget. Martin Campbell’s The Protégé will earn $720,000 over the Fri-Mon frame for a $7 million 18-day cume. Space Jam: A New Legacy will cross $70 million this weekend while A24’s The Green Knight will end Labor Day just over $17 million. Poor, under-loved Reminiscence will earn $47,000 (-94%) in its third Fri-Sun frame for a $3.85 million cume. Pity WB again missing out by overestimating the taste of the American moviegoer.
Last but not least, Skydance’s The Tomorrow War opened in China after playing in most of the world as an Amazon Prime title. The Chris McKay-directed/Chris Pratt-starring sci-fi original, about present-day citizens zipped into the future to provide cannon fodder for a losing war against extraterrestrial invaders, was one of the very best blockbuster-y movies we got this summer, so grim irony that the “intended to be released theatrically by Paramount” flick ended up as a streaming premiere. Of course, high-concept, star-driven originals struggled before Covid, and Tomorrow War is no exception. The film earned a “meh” $8.2 million opening weekend, unable to fend off the leggy and buzzy Free Guy. I would imagine that Skydance looks at any China box office as gravy, but it would have been nice to see it break out somewhere.