This summer, many studios decided to finally release some of their big (and smaller) movies that had been stored in the vault for at least a year due to COVID.
Paramount hit it big with “A Quiet Place: Part II” but struggled with “Snake Eyes”, and “Paw Patrol: The Movie” is falling in between. Universal’s “F9: The Fast Saga” did well enough, though “The Boss Baby: Family Business”, “Old”, “The Forever Purge” and “Spirit Untamed” didn’t put-up incredible numbers. (“Candyman” is doing okay so far.)
Warner Bros. continued its same day theater and HBO Max debut plan, but none of the summer releases came close to hitting the $101 million of this spring’s “Godzilla vs. Kong”, including “Space Jam: A New Legacy”, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”, “The Suicide Squad”, “In the Heights” and flat-out bombs “Those Who Wish Me Dead” and “Reminiscence”.
Lionsgate unveiled three Samuel L. Jackson movies: “Saw” spinoff “Spiral”, comedy sequel “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” and action romance “The Protege”. All didn’t do so hot. MGM debuted “Wrath of Man” and “Respect”, both of which won’t get to $30 million. A24 gave adults counter-programming with moderately successful “The Green Knight” and “Zola”. Same for Focus Features with drama “Stillwater” and doc “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain”.
And Sony/Columbia only opened two pictures: sequels “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” and “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions”. Their combined gross: just $66 million. Screen Gems’ “Don’t Breathe 2” will barely cross $30M total.
The studio that had the most theatrical success this summer, without question, is Disney. The Mouse House kicked-off the summer by opening “Cruella” on May 27th, the same day as “A Quiet Place: Part II”. “Quiet” totaled more than $160 million for Paramount, while “Cruella” only earned $86 million. However, “Cruella” quadrupled its $21 million opening weekend over the course of its run and was also a hit on Disney+.
Disney and Marvel *finally* ushered-in a new MCU installment two years after the previous one, “Spider-Man: Far From Home”. In July, “Black Widow” had an $80 million opening weekend (the summer’s high point) and has made more than $180 million domestically, while also breaking records on Disney+. The simultaneous play has also worked for “Jungle Cruise”. The Dwayne Johnson / Emily Blunt action comedy that was also delayed multiple times earned $35M in theaters during its first weekend in late July / early August and has crossed the $100M mark, while also playing well at home. A sequel is already in the works.
And now with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Rings” hitting all-time Labor Day Weekend records, Disney can celebrate again. This Marvel movie is a theatrical exclusive (for the time being), and that’s not stopping comic book fans from hitting indoor and drive-in theaters. Disney also made its first 20th Century Studios release in 10 months, “Free Guy”, a theater-only experience for 45 days beginning August 13th. “Free Guy” has been a hit (a sequel to that is also in early development), and it should hit $100M within the next week.
Through the Searchlight Pictures division, Disney released Questlove’s documentary “Summer of Soul” in theaters and on Hulu in late June & early July, to strong critical and audience react success. Horror drama “The Night House” isn’t doing fantastic numbers, but it was definitely a “let’s finally get this out there and bury it at the end of August” situation.
Disney’s only true misstep this summer was not doing a simultaneous theatrical and Disney+ debut for the Pixar animated feature “Luca”. While animated and family features haven’t been putting up gigantic numbers lately, mid-June was the perfect time to release a Pixar film for families to go to. And following “Soul”, it was the second Pixar release in a row to be entirely shelved to Disney+… except for the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. “Luca” played there for a week and earned approx. $130,000 total, which is very impressive.