Universal Dominates July 4th Box Office With the Top Three Spots
Customers purchase tickets at a self-service machine at a movie theater. (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Universal Dominates July 4th Box Office With the Top Three Spots

Universal Pictures captured the top three spots at the U.S. box office during the extended July 4th holiday weekend, drawing fans to theaters with the returning action flick “F9” and two new releases.

The Fast & the Furious installment led the box office again over the U.S. Independence Day holiday, generating $30.1 million in ticket sales from Friday to Monday in North American theaters, researcher Comscore Inc. estimated. Comcast Corp.’s Universal division also released a new animated comedy, “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” and the new dystopian thriller, “The Forever Purge.”

Studios and theaters need some big hits to rekindle enthusiasm for moviegoing. Hollywood has seen a few big weekends in 2021 but is overall doing far less business than in pre-pandemic times. Sales over the July 4 period fell from a week ago, despite two new releases and an extra day of moviegoing on Monday.

Universal Dominates July 4th Box Office With the Top Three Spots

The industry is also still fighting news about the coronavirus. Los Angeles officials recently urged people continue to wear masks indoors because of the Covid-19 delta variant.

“The industry has seen films debut with boffo numbers, but finding legs has proven to be very difficult,” Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., said before the weekend. “The road to recovery will be a long one, but hopefully by the holiday season this year, we’ll see theatrical exhibition normalize.”

Without much competition, Universal generated about $66 million in ticket sales from the three films over the four-day period, matching the estimate of Boxoffice Pro. “F9” was expected to take in $33 million.

Universal dominated “with a wide array of content from the genres of action, animation and horror,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said Sunday.

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“Boss Baby 2” was the first movie that Universal premiered in theaters and on a streaming service simultaneously. The sequel to the 2017 animated hit “Boss Baby” was made available to those paying either $5 or $10 a month for the premium levels of the company’s Peacock streaming service.

Universal also has the option to release “F9” for on-demand viewing five weekends after its theatrical debut, and Bloomberg Intelligence estimates the studio’s take from that strategy could be about 10% higher than the revenue from a cinema-only run.

“Boss Baby 2,” the No. 2 film in box office, made $20 million in ticket sales over the extended weekend, followed by $15.7 million for “The Forever Purge,” according to Comscore. Boxoffice Pro was forecasting about $20 million for “Boss Baby 2” and $13 million for “The Forever Purge.”

By next week, the box office will get another major test of moviegoer interest. Walt Disney Co. will release “Black Widow,” the first movie since 2019 from its Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, the most profitable in history. Adding a wrinkle to estimating cinema attendance is the studio’s plan to also make it available for a $30 fee to Disney+ customers.

Even so, the action film, starring Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, may break the $70 million pandemic-era opening record set by “F9.” The movie could make as much as $90 million domestically in the first three days of its release according to Boxoffice Pro.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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