“Cruella” was less impressive, but Memorial Day weekend exceeded expectations in a big step toward recovery for exhibition.
Those who placed bets on John Krasinski as the savior of movie theaters, collect your winnings. While you’re at it, tip your hat to Paramount. “A Quiet Place Part II,” similar to its predecessor directed by and starring Krasinski, finally was released more than 14 months after its original date. One of the earliest titles to be jettisoned after the onset of COVID-19, it was ultimately placed this weekend after Universal vacated “F9” for June 25.
Paramount — along with Disney, which saw “Cruella” open to an initial $21.3 million — gambled that theaters would be ready to approximate the business they hoped for last year. That’s happened, even with a 45-day theatrical window (for “A Quiet Place Part II”; “Cruella,” of course, is now available to Disney+ subscribers with a $29.95 surcharge).
The result is a three-day estimate for “A Quiet Place Part II” of $48.4 million. With Memorial Day added, the four-day guess is $58.5 million. With the exception of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” that’s better than the full domestic grosses of any film in the last 15 months, including “Tenet” and “The Croods: A New Age.”
There’s logic to that: Most top theaters in the U.S. are now open. “Quiet” opened in about 700 more theaters than “Godzilla.” The last two months have seen a surge in confidence about safety in group activities. Even if operating at a loss, exhibition has done a terrific job in establishing that they are being responsible while getting back in business.
Paramount and Disney built on the work others have done, going back to Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan over Labor Day. Warners followed with a strong lineup of films (playing day-and-date HBO Max); Universal has also stuck with theatrical releases with a three-week window before Premium VOD.
With “A Quiet Place Part II” expected to make $58.5 million for four days, it compares to the $48.1 million “Godzilla” made in its first five days with a Wednesday opening. Even more impressive is in March 2020, advance tracking for “A Quiet Place Part II” projected the opening gross at $60 million for its original three-day opening.
To extend that comparison: $48 million for the first three days is 80 percent of the original estimate. If that paralleled the theaters’ overall performance, that would be at the high level of optimistic.
“Cruella,” similar to Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” opened with same-day PVOD availability for Disney+ subscribers. The earlier animated release opened to $8.5 million with 2,045 theaters. “Cruella” has 3,892, clearly advancing its cause.
“Raya” is nearing $50 million in total gross and is still #5 in its 13th weekend. That leads to the likelihood “Cruella” will also have a strong multiple (its A Cinemascore is a great sign). Even if “Cruella” were theater exclusive, “Quiet” likely would have led the weekend easily. A sequel to a popular title that appeals to a wider swath of moviegoers who chase opening weekends would give it the edge.
“Cruella” represented more than a quarter of the total weekend gross of over $80 million (“Quiet” took around 60 percent). Some context: The three-day total for Memorial Day weekends 2017-2019 each took in each about $180 million. The four-day take for “Quiet” would place it at #21 overall, without adjusting for inflation.
With the holdovers, normalcy reigned. Two strong new titles meant less business for the rest, with most holdovers seeing significant drops. There were exceptions: “Raya,” helped in part by drive-in play with “Cruella,” saw a 20 percent rise. Bleecker Street’s “Dream Horse” otherwise held best, with an 18 percent drop.
The other debut of note is “Bo Gia” (“Dad, I’m Sorry”), a Vietnamese film that played in 19 theaters with a gross of around $250,000. That’s over $13,000 per theater for the three days. This placed it #12 overall, impressive for a national cinema that previously went untapped for domestic audiences.
The Top 10
1. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 71; Est. budget: $61 million
$48,385,000 in 3,726 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $12,986; Cumulative: $48,385,000
2. Cruella (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 60; Est. budget: $100 million; Also available on Premium VOD at Disney+
$21,300,000 in 3,892 theaters; PTA: $5,473; Cumulative: $21,300,000
3. Spiral (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$2,275,000 (-50%) in 2,641 theaters (-350); PTA: $861; Cumulative: $19,782,000
4. Wrath of Man (MGM) Week 4; Last weekend #2; also available on Premium Video on Demand
$(est.) 2,000,000 (-33%) in 2,607 theaters (-40); PTA: $767; Cumulative: $(est.) 22,000,000
5. Raya and the Last Dragon (Disney) Week 13; Last weekend #4; also available on Premium VOD
$1,995,000 (+20%) in 2,015 theaters (-400); PTA: $990; Cumulative: $51,435,000
6. Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros.) Week 9; Last weekend #5
$852,000 (-39%) in 1,815 theaters (-737); PTA: $469; Cumulative: $98,302,000
7. Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train (Funimation) Week 6; Last weekend #4
$(est.) 830,000 (-35%) in 1,145 theaters (-655); PTA: $725; Cumulative: $(est.) 45,175,000
8. Dream Horse (Bleecker Street) Week 2; Last weekend #9
$652,373 (-18%) in 1,283 theaters (+29); PTA: $508; Cumulative: $1,903,000
9. Those Who Wish Me Dead (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #3; also available on HBO Max
$545,000 (-72%) in 1,805 theaters (-1,574); PTA: $302; Cumulative: $6,821,000
10. World War Z (Paramount) REISSUE
$(est.) 357,000 in 72 theaters; PTA: $4,958; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 225,700,000