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At $16.5 Million, ‘Old’ News Isn’t Good Enough for Box Office Recovery

Statistics tells us that movie audiences are still holding back; they also show no clear link between home availability and box office.

OLD, from left: Gael Garcia Bernal, Alex Wolff, 2021. © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection


©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

M. Night Shyamalan’s self-financed “Old” is the director’s seventh film to open at #1 (out of 12, starting with “The Sixth Sense”). It made $16.5 million, about 40 percent of the openings earned by his last two films “Glass” and “Split.”

That 40 percent also reflects this weekend’s overall performance (about $66 million) compared to 2019 ($163 million). That reduces the rolling four-weekend comparison to 52 percent, down from 58 percent last week.

“Old,” made for a thrifty $18 million (before marketing costs), will likely be a financial winner for the director. Unlike other Universal genre titles, this one will not have an early PVOD release. Since the public probably isn’t aware of that decision, it’s possible that the presumption of early home viewing contributed to what is Shyamalan’s lowest-grossing opener. Increased Covid anxieties may also be a factor.

The other wide debut, “Snake Eyes,” opened to $13.25 million. It’s an origin film starring Henry Golding from Paramount’s “G.I. Joe” franchise; earlier films opened to $55 million (2009) and $40 million (20013), unadjusted. The “Snake Eyes” budget is a reported $88 million, with some sources claiming more.

This weekend needed to be better. Neither new title was necessarily a surefire hit; precedents suggested much better, but these are not normal times. Even so, this week had the means to show improvement with a strong lineup of holdovers as well as two credible openers. Instead, grosses are down 27 percent from last weekend.

“Old” is a rarity as a title untethered to a franchise (beyond the Shyamalan name). To encourage more original films in theaters, it needs a stronger performance. Diminished theatrical windows and ongoing pandemic fears contribute to the box-office deficit, but reality increasingly suggests that moviegoing has taken a long-term hit. The films themselves could also be a factor, of course, but what could turn things around still isn’t evident.

Also of note: There’s no clear correlation between home availability and box-office performance. Two years ago was the second weekend of “The Lion King,” which fell 60 percent from its enormous opening (and of course, no home availability). “Space Jam,” which is on HBO Max, dropped 69 percent in its second weekend, worse than the week-two drop for “Black Widow.” (The Marvel film dropped 55 percent this weekend.) “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” with good word of mouth and no home viewing, fell 58 percent. The theater-only “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” dropped 61 percent. Meantime, “A Quiet Place Part II,” just added at home, is down only 44 percent while losing a third of its dates.

"Good Joe Bell"

“Joe Bell”

Courtesy of TIFF

“Joe Bell,” with Mark Wahlberg as a father crusading against bullying when his gay son is victimized, placed #11 with $707,000 in 1,094 theaters. Roadside released it after initial distributor Solstice ceded control following its post-Toronto acquisition. It suffered from weak reviews and a still-underperforming adult audience.

Platform releases are slowly returning. “Ailey,” a documentary about the iconic dancer, had a respectable (in current context) two-theater debut of $16,000. “All the Streets Are Silent,” a documentary about skateboarding and its connection to hip-hop, did $9,500 in a single Manhattan theater. Ahead of wider release, “Without Getting Killed or Caught,” about songwriter Guy Clark, took in $6,350 with only two shows a day at one Austin, Texas location.


The Top 10

1. Old (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $18 million

$16,500,000 in 3,355 theaters; PTA: $4,918; Cumulative: $16,500,000

2. Snake Eyes (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 43; Est. budget: $88 million

$13,350,000 in 3,521 theaters; PTA: $3,792; Cumulative: $13,350,000

3. Black Widow (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #2; also on PVOD via Disney+

$11,600,000 (-55%) in 4,250 theaters (-25); PTA: $2,729; Cumulative: $154,807,000

4. Space Jam: A New Legacy (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1; also on HBO Max

$9,560,000 (-69%) in 4,002 theaters (+37); PTA: $2,389; Cumulative: $51,368,000

5. F9 (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$4,700,000 (-40%) in 2,850 theaters (-518); PTA: $614; Cumulative: $163,300,000

6. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$3,400,000 (-61%) in 2,815 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,208; Cumulative: $16,048,000

7. The Boss Baby: Family Business (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #5; also on Peacock

$2,700,000 (-43%) in 2,773 theaters (-676); PTA: $970; Cumulative: $50,100,000

8. The Forever Purge (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$2,300,000 (-44%) in 2,113 theaters (-622); PTA: $1,088; Cumulative: $40,300,000

9. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) Week 9; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD and Paramount Plus

$1,250,000 (-44%) in 1,367 theaters (-628); PTA: $914; Cumulative: $157,524,000

10. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #8

$830,000 (-58%) in 954 theaters (+29); PTA: $; Cumulative: $3,702,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases


Joe Bell (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Toronto 2020

$707,185 in 1,094 theaters; PTA: $646

CatVideoFest 2021 (Oscilloscope)

$35,500 in 35 screens; PTA: $1,014

Ailey (Neon) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Sundance, Tribeca 2021

$16,014 in 2 theaters; PTA: $8,007

All the Streets Are Silent (Greenwich) – Festivals include: Tribeca 2021

$9,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,500

Without Getting Killed or Caught (Slow Uvalde) – Festivals include: South by Southwest 2021

$6,350 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,350


Pig (Neon) Week 2

$ 565,000 in 588 theaters (+36); Cumulative: $2,031,000

Zola (A24) Week 4; also available on PVOD

$112,000 in 229 theaters (-304); Cumulative: $4,590,000

Summer of Soul (Searchlight) Week 5; also available on Hulu

$114,000 in 150 theaters (-125); Cumulative: $2,095,000

12 Mighty Orphans (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$62,327 in 74 theaters (-66); Cumulative: $3,437,000

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