The box office is definitely back. On Memorial Day weekend, Paramount’s “A Quiet Place — Part II” is defying the cautious expectations analysts and studio execs have set for weeks with an estimated $48 million 3-day/$58.5 million 4-day opening from 3,726 screens.
Prior to the pandemic, independent projections for the horror sequel had been set at $50 million-plus for a 3-day opening in March 2020, but concern over how quickly audiences would return to theaters kept projections in the $40 million range for this extended weekend. Now the film has nearly matched the $50 million opening of its 2018 predecessor, topping “Godzilla vs. Kong” for the best post-pandemic launch.
Of course, “Quiet Place II” wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t embraced by critics and audiences as much as the first film, and that is just what has happened with a 90% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- from audiences on CinemaScore. The first film had a 96% RT score and a B+ on CinemaScore.
Also opening this weekend is Disney’s “Cruella,” which estimates currently have earning a $26.5 million 4-day opening from 3,892 screens. The film’s performance is likely being affected by its simultaneous PVOD release for $30 to Disney+ subscribers. The villain origin story starring Emma Stone has earned an A on CinemaScore — same as Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” films — to go with a 73% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has also added $16.1 million from 29 markets for a global launch of $43 million, including Memorial Day estimates.
Women have also been the major drivers of audience turnout this weekend, as “Quiet Place II” reported 53% female for its audience demographics, while “Cruella” reported 64%. And while families did come out in greater numbers for “Cruella” than for a PG-13 horror film, “Cruella” joined “Maleficent” among the films that have skewed more towards general audiences than most Disney films with parents and kids only comprising 30% of total turnout.
Combined, the two new releases have pushed overall weekend totals to around $80 million for the 3-day period and $100 million for the 4-day period, by far the largest totals for the domestic market since the pandemic began. While that’s not enough to keep this Memorial Day weekend from being the lowest grossing for the holiday in over 25 years — 2019 saw a 4-day overall total of $232 million — the presence of two well-received wide releases will provide the box office with the kind of holdover support that it has been missing for over a year and should keep numbers rising as more films like “In the Heights’ and “F9” arrive next month.
The rest of the Top 5 shows just how important holdovers are to the overall box office. After “Cruella” is Lionsgate’s “Spiral” with just $2.9 million in its third weekend. The horror film pushed the “Saw” series past $1 billion in lifetime grosses last weekend and now holds a domestic total of $20.4 million. MGM/UA’s “Wrath of Man” has added $2.75 million in its fourth weekend for a total of $22.7 million, and Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” is in fifth with $2.5 million and a total of $51.4 million.
Overseas, the Universal blockbuster “F9” has crossed $200 million in global grosses this weekend, adding $30.8 million from eight markets for a total of $229 million. But in China, lukewarm reception has caught up to the blockbuster, leading to a stunning drop of 85% from the film’s $135 million opening for a 10-day total of $185 million. The film has a Maoyan rating of 7.5/10, far below the scores of 9/10 or higher that Chinese audiences have given previous “Fast & Furious” films on the site. Korea was somewhat better with a 42% drop to $3.7 million, giving it a total of $15.2 million after two weekends to put it on the same pace as “Furious 7” in that country.