Forgive the nostalgia, but we have three movies that are opening exclusively in theaters. None are day-and-date releases. There’s nothing from Marvel. No DC movies. Just three films catering to different audiences. Let’s all pretend for just a moment that the Delta variant doesn’t exist.
Well, sadly, Delta does exist, and there will no doubt be some downward pressure on the box office. But a special shout-out to 20th, UA and Sony for keeping these films on the schedule.
This weekend will serve as a litmus test for the overall health of the box office. With the less-than steller openings for BLACK WIDOW and THE SUICIDE SQUAD combined with the tepid tracking for ETERNALS and SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, it’s clear that Marvel and DC are struggling to match pre-pandemic performance.
That puts extra pressure on genre films (DON’T BREATHE), mid-budget films (RESPECT) and high-concept, somewhat-pricey original concepts (FREE GUY). We need all three of these to do well.
Ultimately, we’re trying to learn what performs in theaters post-pandemic, and this weekend will go a long way toward answering that question.
Going into the weekend, GUY is the clear favorite to win the weekend. It ends its run on The Quorum with an awareness of 45. You may recall that OLD held the post-pandemic record for highest awareness for an original film. That film was at 34 when it opened. As you can see below, not only did FREE easily pass 34, but so did RESPECT.
Both films arrive in theaters with very nice awareness.
When we look at interest, the three films line up the same way. FREE has a very strong interest score of 5.8, while RESPECT is right behind with 5.5.
When we look at interest scores for all upcoming releases, FREE ranks 7th. It trails several big-budget tentpoles, many of which don’t open until next year. RESPECT ranks #14.
What about DON’T BREATHE 2
While FREE and RESPECT have stronger numbers, horror films tend to have smaller scores simply because they, for the most part, have a narrower audience.
To better understand how DON’T BREATHE 2 might perform, we’re comparing it to THE FOREVER PURGE, which opened to $12.5M in pre-Delta variant days.
When we look at awareness over time, the numbers for the two films look very similar. PURGE opened with an awareness of 33 versus 30 for BREATHE.
On the interest side, once again, the numbers are nearly the same. BREATHE has a slight edge with an interest score of 4.9 versus 4.8 for PURGE.
Regardless of how this weekend turns out, let’s celebrate the fact that, at the very least, this looks like an opening weekend of yore. Hopefully, all three will find an audience.