‘Free Guy’ Fights Off ‘Paw Patrol’ at Weekend Box Office
(Bloomberg) -- “Free Guy,” a Walt Disney Co. comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer, was the top film in the U.S. for the second straight weekend, suggesting movies that debut solely in theaters may have more staying power than ones that also debut online.
- The picture, which delivered a surprisingly strong performance in its debut, made $18.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Comscore Inc. said Monday. It fought off several new challengers, including Paramount’s heavily-promoted “Paw Patrol: The Movie,” which made $13.1 million in debut weekend sales.
- “Paw Patrol” sales were likely hindered by its simultaneous release on Paramount+ and because the No. 2 domestic theater chain Regal Theatres declined to show it. Parents are reluctant to take their children to theaters during the pandemic, potentially further holding back ticket sales.
- Cinema owners are still under pressure from Covid-19. In addition to capacity restrictions and new rules that some theaters must check customer vaccine status, there are fewer releases to draw in new audiences. On the third weekend in August 2019, there were about 60 movies out, compared with far fewer now, according to data from Box Office Mojo.
- “Free Guy,” a well-reviewed film about a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in a video game, has surged past analyst expectations. The movie generated $28.4 million in sales in its opening weekend, almost 50% higher than expected. The film is only available in theaters, one of the first Disney films in over a year to have a pure theatrical debut.
- “Paw Patrol,” based on the kids’ toys and TV series made by Spin Master, is a more typical pandemic premiere. It was made available to customers of Paramount+ at no extra cost. The studio hasn’t released figures for how well the movie performed online.
- Regal Theatres opted against showing the kids’ film. The chain didn’t say why, but throughout the pandemic some cinemas have failed to reach a deal on splitting ticket sales with studios that premiere movies both digitally and in theaters at the same time. Online releases cut into theater revenue, and cinema owners usually demand some compensation in exchange. A spokesman for Regal didn’t respond to a request for comment.
- Walt Disney said it has taken in $125 million in online revenue from “Black Widow” and said the picture, which prompted a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, has outperformed other Marvel films. The numbers were revealed in court filings Friday.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.