The Quorum

Can FURIOSA And GARFIELD Leverage A Soft Early June?

What do EZRA and HAIKYU!! THE DUMPSTER BATTLE have in common? EZRA is a drama from Bleecker Street, while HAIKYU from Crunchyroll is an anime film that is breaking box office records in Japan. That’s not it. What they share is that both are opening on May 31st, the weekend after Memorial Day. These are the only wide releases on the frame. The majors are otherwise sitting the weekend out. 

This is noteworthy for a few reasons. May 31st is in the heart of the summer box office. Not all schools are closed in early May when the summer box office begins, but they are mostly shut down by the time June rolls around. That makes the June and July box office especially attractive.

If you want to understand how important this weekend is, just look at the historicals. The chart below shows the highest grossing new release on the weekend after Memorial Day for the last 15 years, excluding the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. 

Last year, SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE launched with a $121M opening. WONDER WOMAN opened to $103M on this weekend while half a dozen others debuted above $50M. The average opening is $53M, while the median is just a hair higher at $55M. 

Not all the films on this weekend were indeed blockbusters. ADRIFT was the top new release in 2018 with $12M, GET HIM TO THE GREEK couldn’t reach $20M in 2010, and there were no major studio releases post Memorial Day in 2022 when theatrical was still on the rebound. Otherwise, this list is chock full of hits.

What does it all mean? As you can see in the chart above, a low weekend can happen even on some of the most popular dates. Perhaps this is just one of them. The problem is that theatrical has been, rightfully, lamenting the lack of studio films. A prime summer weekend that will be down significantly from last year when SPIDER-VERSE opened adds fuel to the fire. 

Things don’t get much better the following week. BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE is the only wide release the week after. True, RIDE should add a nice jolt to the box office, but exhibition would still welcome more choices to fill their multiplexes. 

There are, however, some beneficiaries of the uncrowded market. Sony, in particular, is well positioned. Sony has three films opening in a row. THE GARFIELD MOVIE opens on Memorial Day, HAIKYU!! arrives the following week, and RIDE on the tail end. GARFIELD and FURIOSA (Warner Bros.), also opening over the holiday weekend, are best positioned to exploit the early June slowdown. Both should be able to stay in the top five well into June. That may be the key to success for both. Tracking for FURIOSA suggests a decent, though not spectacular, opening, meaning a leggy run may be especially important. And GARFIELD could use the lack of competition to bank as much as possible before INSIDE OUT 2 arrives three weeks later on June 14th.

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