By Lindsey Bahr | Associated press
Four new movies starring major stars from Hugh Jackman to Michael Keaton hit North American theaters this weekend and only the one with animated puppies did well. But that wasn’t enough to beat Ryan Reynolds’ action comedy “Free Guy,” which topped the charts for the second weekend in a row.
“PAW Patrol: The Movie,” a Paramount release aimed at very young children that also airs on Paramount +, grossed $ 13 million in ticket sales according to the studio’s estimates on Sunday. It was by far the best of the new openers, which included three adult films that failed to find a big audience: The action shot “The Protégé,” starring Keaton and Maggie Q, the science thriller – fiction “Reminiscence”, which is also streaming on HBO Max, and Rebecca Hall’s well-reviewed horror “The Night House”.
The top spot went to “Free Guy”, a 20th century Disney release that is played exclusively in theaters. It fell a tiny 34% and added $ 18.8 million over the weekend, bringing its world total to $ 112 million. The studio attributed the strong hold to good word of mouth.
“‘Free Guy’ is a film that harkens back to when strong word of mouth and a truly engaged star Ryan Reynolds combine to make a great first theatrical release,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “It shows that a first theatrical release, even in today’s unusual market, can have legs. It’s very 2019, not in the era of the pandemic. “
The relative success of “PAW Patrol” came as a surprise even to those involved. Although the film is based on an extremely popular Nickelodeon series, its target audience of under 6 is a wild card. The Delta variant issues and its availability for home streaming made it an even more moving target.
Chris Aronson, president of national distribution for Paramount Pictures, said the weekend was a “very nice, very pleasant surprise.”
“It’s a younger audience and we’re living in an interesting time, but I think our marketing teams, both on our side and on the show side, have done a tremendous job of getting the message across,” he said. said Aronson. “The puppies are loved a lot and have a very, very loyal following.”
The studio said the audiences that visited the theaters were diverse (41% white, 34% Hispanic and 20% black) and were mostly made up of families with very young children. Aronson also noted that for younger people, “PAW Patrol” is probably their first experience in a movie theater.
Celebrities who voiced characters on “PAW Patrol” included Tyler Perry, Jimmy Kimmel, Yara Shahidi and Kim Kardashian.
Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” which is available to rent on Disney + for $ 30, clinched third place on its fourth weekend release. So far, the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt action-adventure has grossed $ 174 million worldwide.
In its first weekend, Millennium Media’s “The Protégé,” starring Keaton, Q and Samuel L. Jackson, earned $ 2.9 million at 2,577 sites. Distributed by Lionsgate, the Martin Campbell-directed action shot of Q’s killer character Anna calling for justice has received mixed to positive reviews.
Searchlight’s well-reviewed “The Night House” did not hit its opening weekend audience, which awarded it a C-CinemaScore. The indie horror about a recently widowed woman played by Hall grossed an estimated $ 2.9 million from 2,240 locations.
Meanwhile, “Reminiscence” with Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton fizzled out with just $ 2 million across 3,265 locations. The directorial debut of “Westworld” co-creator Lisa Joy, “Reminiscence” also airs on HBO Max.
This is one of many Warner Bros. ‘ adult films that disappointed the hybrid release strategy, including the thrillers “Those Who Wish Me Dead” with Angelina Jolie and “The Little Things” with Denzel Washington. The studio is releasing its entire 2021 roster on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously.
“I think there is some confusion among consumers,” Dergarabedian said of the many hybrid exit strategies. “When people are faced with a myriad of options, they have to figure out how and where they can get that content. To rise above the noise, you really have to have a film that creates a buzz. ‘Free Guy’ is that trending movie and it’s only available in theaters.
Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.
- “Free Guy”, $ 18.8 million.
- “PAW Patrol: The Movie”, $ 13 million.
- “Jungle Cruise”, $ 6.2 million.
- “Don’t breathe 2”, $ 5.1 million.
- “Respect”, $ 3.8 million.
- “The Suicide Squad”, $ 3.4 million.
- “Le Protégé”, $ 2.9 million.
- “The House of the Night”, $ 2.9 million.
- “Reminiscence”, $ 2 million.
- “Black Widow”, $ 1.2 million.