‘Hitman’s Wife’ Bumps ‘Quiet Place’ Off Top of Box Office

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” a comedic action film released exclusively in theaters, knocked the No. 1 U.S. movie, “A Quiet Place Part II,” off its perch at the top of the weekend box office.

The Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. movie, which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, took in $11.7 million over Father’s Day weekend, according to researcher Comscore Inc., higher than the industry estimate of $9.7 million. “A Quiet Place Part II,” the sci-fi thriller from Paramount Pictures, unexpectedly stayed No. 1 last weekend after a new Warner Bros. musical, “In the Heights,” fell short of estimates.

For the past couple months, movies released solely in theaters -- including “A Quiet Place Part II” -- have been leading the weekend box-office standings. “In the Heights” was simultaneously released in cinemas and on HBO Max, though studio executives and analysts have suggested it didn’t catch on because it was more of a niche film than first thought.

The results offer clues to studios that are contemplating how to release films during this transitional moment. Theaters continue to reopen amid a broader post-pandemic economic recovery, but moviegoers are only slowly coming back. About 78% of theaters in North America are currently open, according to Comscore.

“In planning meetings at every studio, the performance of movies that use a ‘theatrical first’ release model is likely being closely monitored,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at Comscore. “It appears from the early evidence that this is the most beneficial release strategy for most films and that the prestige and exclusivity of theatrical are not just talking points.”

“Hitman’s Wife” is the sequel to the August 2017 movie “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” The original film made $21.4 million on its opening weekend and ultimately became a surprise hit, generating almost $177 million in global ticket sales on a $30 million production budget, according to Boxoffice Pro.

The new installment pits a trio played by Reynolds, Jackson and Salma Hayek against a powerful madman. For an independent studio like Lions Gate, the ability to turn smaller films into franchises is critical. It gives the company a more reliable source of revenue, since audiences are drawn to familiar storylines and characters, while they take risks on new projects.

“A Quiet Place,” which took the No. 2 spot with $9.4 million in ticket sales over the weekend, is shaping up to be a powerful franchise. The film is the top-grossing North American movie of 2021, with sales of $114.3 million heading into the weekend, and one of the biggest hits of the past two years. It was the first major movie this year that came out strictly in cinemas, with audiences having to wait 45 days to access it over the web.

“In the Heights” fell all the way to sixth place domestically over the weekend, behind the three-week-old “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” another picture from Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures’ “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” which debuted last weekend.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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