“Free Guy,” the action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as a video game character, made $2.2 million at the box office in its Thursday night previews beginning at 7 p.m. It opens on 4,165 screens this weekend.
“Free Guy” hopes to set the high score at the box office this weekend, but it will have to go up against two other films that, like “Free Guy,” are also being released exclusively to theaters rather than day-and-date on streaming. Those are the horror sequel “Don’t Breathe 2” and the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect.” All three films will also have to contend with the second week of the DC superhero film “The Suicide Squad,” not to mention increasing concerns from moviegoers about the Delta variant strain of the coronavirus.
“Free Guy” comes from 20th Century Studios and is projected to earn between $15-17 million. For comparison, Reynolds’ action comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from 2017 made $1.65 million in its Thursday previews and grossed $21.3 million in its opening weekend.
“Don’t Breathe 2” made $965,000 in its Thursday previews starting at 7 p.m. from 2,575 locations and is projected to earn $8-10 million this weekend. For comparison, Sony’s other recent horror sequel release “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” made $8.8 million in its opening after getting a $1.2 million start in Thursday previews.
“Free Guy” stars Ryan Reynolds as Guy, an NPC, or non-playable character, in a massive, “Fortnite” style video game. But when he locks eyes on one player (Jodie Comer) he begins to realize there’s more to life than being a background character in a story and starts to take his life into his own hands, eventually fighting for the fate of his video gaming world. Shawn Levy directs the movie that also stars Taika Waititi, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery and Lil Rel Howery.
“Don’t Breathe 2,” a horror sequel from Sony’s Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films, stars Stephen Lang and sees him reprising his role as a blind man consumed with rage over the loss of his daughter who unleashes his fury on a group of criminals who come to kidnap an 11-year-old girl. Rodo Sayagues directed the film that he co-wrote with original “Don’t Breathe” director Fede Alvarez.
Finally, “Respect,” an Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson and coming from MGM and United Artists, is projected to make $7-9 million this weekend. The film also stars Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess and Mary J. Blige. Broadway veteran Liesl Tommy directed from a screenplay by Tracey Scott Wilson.