Universal Dominates July 4 Box Office, but the Fireworks Fail to Support ‘F9’

Just as “F9” couldn’t come soon enough, the same applies for next weekend’s “Black Widow.” Universal leads by default with its unheard-of release of three wide titles over two weeks, but total box office declined from last weekend. As expected, “F9” led in its second frame, followed by “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and “The Forever Purge.” Three movies in the top 10 grossed over $10 million, a first since March last year.

Even with new titles, we’re seeing grosses plateau. The three-day weekend for all titles should total $72 million, down from $98 million last weekend. The same weekend in 2019 grossed $184 million. Another point of comparison: The last time July 4 fell on a Sunday was 2010. That weekend’s total, adjusted for higher ticket prices, was $220 million.

Over the past four weeks, grosses overall are 43 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Last weekend, the comparison was 49 percent. Next week will improve things, but theaters need to get back to 80 percent or better to show recovery.

The top eight films this week are all franchise-connected; seven are direct sequels. “F9” fell 66 percent in its second weekend; prior entry, 2017’s “Fate of the Furious,” dropped 61 percent in the same period. The first “Boss Baby,” also in 2017, opened to $50 million; this one is about a third, but since it’s available to Peacock subscribers it beat expectations. It’s a fledgling streaming service, although hopes are high that heavy Olympics programming will change boost that. The fifth “Purge” installment is its lowest, but the drop is less than 30 percent — normal for an aging series.

Apart from holiday activities and streaming competition, theaters also faced home service premieres of “The Tomorrow Man” with Chris Pratt (Amazon), “No Sudden Move” from Steven Soderbergh (HBO Max), “Fear City Part One 1994” and “America the Movie” (Netflix), plus Peacock’s “Baby” as well as Searchlight’s “Summer of Soul” (Hulu). That alternative will exist (at $29.99 on Disney+) for “Black Widow” next week as well.

A bright spot: This was the first weekend since March 2020 in which all Top Ten films grossed over $1 million. The top hold was “A Quiet Place Part II” (Paramount), now in its sixth week and now at $144 million. It earned $4.2 million this weekend, more than double of first entry in the same period. That reflects the terrific reaction to the sequel as well as an increase in audience return since the film opened.


Courtesy of Anna Kooris / A24 Films

The weekend saw the wide release of two Sundance-premiered films that opened somewhat wide. “Zola” (A24), which debuted as a U.S. Dramatic Competition title in 2020, played in 1,468 theaters and opened Wednesday to a five-day total of over $2 million.

Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” (Searchlight), among the year’s best-reviewed films and winner of both the jury and audience top prizes among U.S. documentaries at Sundance 2021, placed #11 as it expanded after two theater platform dates (plus some one-night previews) with $650,000 (this includes all grosses). Searchlight reports it got an A+ Cinemascore, the first since “Just Mercy” over two years ago. It was #1 at nearly all of its specialized locations and the best weekend gross those theaters have seen in over a year.

Both films’ performances reflect the challenge faced by the specialized business in attracting adult audiences, especially with home alternatives. Right now, their choice is to go big or go home; as to whether that’s the new normal, that remains to be seen.

The Top Ten

1. F9 (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$24,000,000 (-66%) in 4,203 theaters (+24); PTA: $5,710; Cumulative: $117,104,000

2. The Boss Baby: Family Business (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 39; Est. budget: $82 million; also available on the Peacock TV

$17,300,000 in 3,644 theaters; PTA: $4,764; Cumulative: $17,300,000

3. The Forever Purge (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 54; Est. budget: $18 million

$12,700,000 in 3,051 theaters; PTA: $4,179; Cumulative: $12,700,000

4. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #2

$4,225,000 (-32%) in 2,826 theaters (-298); PTA: $1,495; Cumulative: $144,437,000

5. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$3,000,000 (-38%) in 2,582 theaters (-779); PTA: $1,162; Cumulative: $31,878,000

6. Cruella (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #5; also available on Premium on Demand

$2,556,000 (-33%) in 2,380 theaters (-440); PTA: $1,074; Cumulative: $76,595,000

7. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$2,250,000 (-53%) in 2,954 theaters (-377); PTA: $762; Cumulative: $34,416,000

8. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #6; also available (through Sunday) on HBO Max

$1,290,000 (-57%) in 1,716 theaters (-952); PTA: $752; Cumulative: $62,226,000

9. In the Heights (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #7; also available on HBO Max

$1,275,000 (-43%) in 1,405 theaters (-998); PTA: $907; Cumulative: $26,887,000

10. Zola (A24) NEW –  Cinemascore: 75; Est. budget: $5 million

$1,230,000 in 1,468 theaters; PTA: $838; Cumulative: $2,028,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Summer of Soul (Searchlight) Week 2; also available on Hulu

$650,000 in 752 theaters (+750); PTA: $838; Cumulative: $650,000

I Carry You With Me (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$23,117 in 24 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $46,667

Werewolves Within (IFC) Week 3; also available on VOD

$115,250 in 209 theaters (-61); Cumulative: $473,067

The Sparks Brothers (Focus) Week 3

$24,000 in 130 theaters (-404); Cumulative: $614,920

12 Mighty Orphans (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$255,561 in 338 theaters (-682); Cumulative: $2,841,000

Queen Bees (Gravitas Ventures) Week 4; also on Premium VOD

$82,670 in 170 theaters; Cumulative: $1,523,000

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