The MOVIE BOX | ‘FREE GUY’ Debuts To Stellar $50.9 Million…

Ryan Reynolds became the “good guy” this weekend while his newest film, “Free Guy,” opened to a stellar $24.8 million domestic and $50.9 million worldwide. This is the second time Reynolds has debuted at the top of the domestic box office this year, with “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” reaching that same feat back during the weekend of June 18-20. “Free Guy,” meanwhile, peaked with $10.5 million on Friday domestically, and only dropped 1.9% on Saturday before dropping another 26.2% on Sunday. The additional $22.5 million came from worldwide markets. “Free Guy” has a couple of things going for it in its theatrical run: it received an A grade on Cinemascore and is also exclusive to theaters unlike fellow current releases such as “Jungle Cruise” and “The Suicide Squad.”

Taking home second place this weekend was “Don’t Breathe 2,” the sequel to 2016’s “Don’t Breathe.” The first installment was a massive hit, making $157,830,487 on a $9.9 million budget. The sequel opened to a $10.6 million domestic haul and adding another $3.4 million worldwide in 3,005 theaters. Current circumstances in the world will prohibit “Don’t Breathe 2” from making the same kind of money as the first, but a $14 million opening on a presumably-small budget is a good sign in these times.

In third place was “Jungle Cruise,” which was in the third weekend of its theatrical run. It had a 43.1% drop, but still made $9 million this weekend domestically, which pushed it past $150 million worldwide and $80 million domestically.

Jennifer Hudson is Aretha Franklin in the new biopic, “Respect.”

The Aretha Franklin biopic, “Respect,” opened in 3,207 theaters to the tune of $8,806,106. “Respect” had a reported budget of $55 million (Variety), but $8.8 million is seemingly a good debut for a biopic that is two and a half hours long. For the sake of comparison, “Judy,” the Judy Garland biopic starring Renée Zellweger as the titular singer, only opened to $2,916,548, averaging $6,326,000 per-theater before expanding its release rollout and becoming an awards season contender. “Respect” opened to 3,207 theaters, meaning their average came in lower at $2,745 per theater, but like “Judy,” “Respect” features a powerhouse performance from the lead, and perhaps the word of mouth about Jennifer Hudson’s stellar performance will help its legs during its theatrical run.

“The Suicide Squad” took an unfortunate (and steep) 70.4% drop at the domestic box office this weekend. Despite rave reviews, including a score of 91% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Suicide Squad” has had a disappointing run. Of course, the disappointing run can point to the surging cases as a potential culprit, and the fact that it is streaming for free on HBO Max (with an ad-free subscription) doesn’t help its theatrical numbers. After all, “The Suicide Squad” was reported to be the second most-watched film to debut on the streaming service.

Even despite “Black Widow” becoming available for purchase on all VOD platforms, it still made $2 million on its sixth weekend at the box office. Its $178,199,531 domestic gross is the highest-grossing film domestically of the year thus far, and it just passed “Captain America: The First Avenger” as the twenty-second highest-grossing film in the MCU domestically.

The story of the weekend is “Free Guy.” It will probably have a good second weekend, with none of the newest releases seeming like huge threats to Ryan Reynolds and company. “Reminiscence,” the Hugh Jackman-led sci-fi film that is directed by the co-creator of “Westworld,” Lisa Joy, is a part of the day-and-date release plan on HBO Max. Action-thriller “The Protégé,” directed by “Casino Royale” (2006) director Martin Campbell and starring Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson, also opens. “The Night House,” a horror film starring Rebecca Hall, is opening. For parents that need something for their younger kids, “Paw Patrol: The Movie” is opening. On the indie scene, a Sean Penn directed drama, “Flag Day,” starring himself and his daughter Dylan Penn, is getting a limited release after its debut at this year’s Cannes Festival.

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