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LeBron James Is This Week’s Marvel as ‘Space Jam’ Beats ‘Black Widow’

Two box office surprises this weekend: The "Space Jam" sequel is stronger than expected and "Black Widow" dropped 67 percent in its second week.

space jam 2

“Space Jam: A New Legacy”

Warner Bros.

Leading this weekend’s box-office results is a single question: Exactly what is the impact of home platforms on theatrical grosses?

Space Jam: A New Legacy” (Warner Bros.) and “Black Widow” (Disney) — the #1 and #2 films this weekend — both can be seen at home, although in very different ways. “Space Jam,” as with all Warners releases this year, is free for HBO Max subscribers from its first week. “Widow” costs $29.99 to view, and then only for Disney+ subscribers.

“Space” is a surprising #1, both for its better-than-expected performance — and because “Black Widow” took such a steep plunge, dipping 67 percent in its second weekend. Since 2015, the last 12 MCU releases had second- weekend drops from 45 percent (“Black Panther”) to 62 percent (“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming”).

As to why, it seems unfair to blame it on PVOD. The availability was the same at opening, so why would it be more of a factor in the second week than in the first?

“Space Jam” reaffirmed the hunger for family films, which are responsible for five of the 10 best grosses for 2021. (Best among them is “Cruella,” which is a borderline PG-13.) Nearly all did better than expected and all opened with home availability except for “Peter Rabbit.” Most held better than films aimed at older audiences.

The surprise #1 “Space Jam” is the fourth biggest opening weekend (just ahead of “Godzilla vs. Kong, which opened on a Wednesday), and ahead of all the other family films. This came despite bad reviews and alternative viewing.  Per Warners, 58 percent of the audience was Black or Latino.

The basketball comedy for a new NBA generation (LeBron James instead of Michael Jordan in the 1996 version) opened during the sport’s championship (though without its star’s involvement) and as Team USA gears up for the Olympics. The budget for the live-action/animation hybrid is a reported $150 million. The 1996 “Space Jam” earlier opened to around $60 million, adjusted.

Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Kevin Baker. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Florence Pugh in “Black Widow”

Kenin Baker

This week, Disney reverted to form and added no new data on the “Black Widow” PVOD revenues. The 10-day domestic take is $132 million, about $23 million under “A Quiet Place Part II” (Paramount) and “F9” (Universal). It should top both, though not by a huge margin. That would mean around $180 million, plus its domestic PVOD result. Even when combining home and theatrical revenue, it will likely land at the lower end of Marvel releases although above “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which is the lowest recent Disney MCU release ($218 million domestic in 2018).

The best news of the weekend is it’s the first since reopening to feature two films that grossed over $25 million. A comparison to the same weekend in 2019, when “The Lion King” opened, is terrible, but a rolling, year-over-year, four-week comparison improved to 58 percent from 55 percent. That could be attributed in part to Ontario finally opening; the province usually provides about 4 percent of the North American gross.

“A Quiet Place Part II” added PVOD ($19.99) and Paramount+ (free for subscribers) this week while losing theaters, but it fell only 27 percent. The studio released no numbers for home viewing, though indications from initial charts suggest strong play.

“Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” (Sony) placed third with $8.8 million. That’s just under half of its predecessor in early 2019. Mediocre at best, it suggests this won’t be an ongoing horror franchise like the lucrative “Resident Evil.”

“Boss Baby: Family Business” and “The Forever Purge,” both Universal and both in their second weeks, dropped in the mid-40 percent range. Note that “Boss,” like “Widow,” also has a home platform as competition.

Two specialized films made the top 10 in under 1,000 theaters. “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” (Focus) placed #8 with $1.9 million in 945 theaters. This is the best opening gross for an older-audience, art-house oriented title since reopening, and substantially better than “Summer of Soul” (Searchlight) managed ($648,000 in 752 theaters). One difference? “Summer” opened with Hulu showings, while “Roadrunner” is theater exclusive (no PVOD date announced, but anticipated after the third weekend).

"Roadrunner"

“Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain”

Focus Features

This shows improvement in the trouble specialized field. A slight majority of the audience was 25-44, which suggests broader appeal than many independent titles and some lagging from those 45 and older — presumably, among the prime audience for the documentary. The top 10 theaters were all established independent houses, led by the Angelika in New York; The Landmark in Los Angeles ranked ninth.

Neon opened “Pig” with Nicolas Cage, also theater exclusive, and took 10th place with $945,000 in 550 theaters. Not a bad weekend for the company, with its upcoming “Titane” taking the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

 

The Top 10

1. Space Jam: A New Legacy (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 36; Est. budget: $150 million; also on HBO Max

$31,650,000 in 3,965 theaters; PTA: $7,982; Cumulative: $31,650,00

2. Black Widow (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1; also on Premium VOD at Disney+

$26,251,000 (-67%) in 4,275 theaters (+115); PTA: $6,142; Cumulative: $132,013,000

3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: 48; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $15 million

$8,800,000 in 2,815 theaters; PTA: $3,126; Cumulative: $8,800,000

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

$7,600,000 (-34%) in 3,368 theaters (-81); PTA: $2,204; Cumulative: $154,800,000

5. Boss Baby: Family Business (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2; also available on Peacock

$4,700,000 (-47%) in 3,449 theaters (+389); PTA: $1,363; Cumulative: $44,600,000

6. The Forever Purge (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$4,100,000 (-43%) in 2,735 theaters (-323); PTA: $1,499; Cumulative: $35,900,000

7. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) Week 8; Last weekend #5; also on Premium VOD and Paramount Plus

$2,300,000 (-27%) in 1,995 theaters (-364); PTA: $1,153; Cumulative: $155,028,000

8. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (Focus) NEW – Metacritic: 80

$1,900,000 in 927 theaters; PTA: $2,050; Cumulative: $1,900,000

9. Cruella (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #6; also on Premium VOD

$1,112,000 (-53%) in 1,175 theaters (-700); PTA: $946; Cumulative: $83,430,000

10. Pig (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 84

$945,000 in 550 theaters; PTA: $1,718; Cumulative: $945,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Zola (A24) – Week 3

$270,000 in 533 theaters (-868); Cumulative: $4,276,000

Summer of Soul (Searchlight) – Week 3; also on Hulu

$(est.) 150,000 in 275 theaters; Cumulative: $(est.) 1,841,000

12 Mighty Orphans (Sony Pictures Classics) – Week 6

$94,800 in 140 theaters (-45); Cumulative: $3,333,000

Queen Bees (Gravitas Ventures) – Week 6; also on PVOD

$49,000 in 63 theaters; Cumulative: $1,776,000

I Carry You With Me – Week 4

$26,752 in 111 theaters (+54); Cumulative: $134,721

 

 

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