This weekend featured a fascinating head-to-head duel between two new wide releases. In one corner there was the blockbuster action of Robert Schwentke's Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, and opposite it was M. Night Shyamalan's latest horror film, Old. Both the G.I. Joe franchise and Shyamalan have a solid history of number one hits, so when both titles started playing this past Friday it was unclear which movie would walk away with the box office crown when the dust settled. Now the results are in, and it appears that the thriller about rapidly aging beachgoers has won out. Check out the full top 10 below, and join me below for full analysis!
|2.||Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins*||$13,350,000||Total: $13,350,000||
|3.||Black Widow||$11,600,000||Total: $154,806,683||
|4.||Space Jam: A New Legacy||$9,560,000||Total: $51,367,605||
|6.||Escape Room 2||$3,400,000||Total: $16,048,270||
|7.||The Boss Baby: Family Business||$2,690,000||Total: $50,122,635||
|8.||The Forever Purge||$2,300,000||Total: $40,306,710||
|9.||A Quiet Place: Part II||$1,250,000||Total: $157,523,623||
|10.||Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain||$830,000||Total: $3,701,480||
The success of Old, which made $16.5 million domestically this weekend, means that M. Night Shyamalan is now on the biggest win streak of his career. Between the individual successes of 2017's Split, 2019's Glass and now this new release, Shyamalan has now strung together three movies in a row that have premiered at the top of the box office – and this is the first time he has done that since he first wowed audiences with The Sixth Sense in 1999. His only previous experience with back-to-back number one hits was between 2002's Signs and 2004's The Village (2006's Lady In The Water opened in third place).
What's on the unfortunate side of things is that while Old was able to perform well enough to earn the top spot at the box office, that $16.5 million take is actually the worst performance by a new Shyamalan-directed movie since Wide Awake, the 1998 film that the writer/director made prior to his aforementioned breakout hit. Lady In The Water may have began its box office run behind Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Gil Kenan's Monster House, but it did at the very least manage to make over $18 million in its first three days.
The saving grace? Old is the only M. Night Shyamalan movie other than 2015's The Visit to be made for a reported budget of under $20 million. According to Variety, the new release only cost about $18 million to make (not counting marketing and publicity costs), so its first week numbers at the very least give the illusion of the production nearly breaking even after just one week. The film also should be able to make a nice chunk of change overseas, as Shyamalan movies have consistently performed well in foreign markets. As of right now it has made a total of $23 million worldwide.
What is set to be a touch more problematic for Old is the long run domestically. The horror flick did a fine job with solid competition from Snake Eyes (more on that in a moment), but looking ahead there are a number of big releases on the immediate horizon, incluidng Jaume Collet-Serra's Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and James Gunn's DC Comics blockbuster The Suicide Squad. Reviews for the M. Night Shyamalan movie have been decidedly mixed – it presently holds a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes – and the "C+" it has received from CinemaScore surveys don't suggest that it will be getting a lot of "You have to see it" buzz in coming weeks. It's entirely possible that it could be a film that succeeds by lingering around in the bottom half of the top 10 for the next month, but it's unlikely going to be considered one of the big hits of the COVID era.
Unfortunately, what's mixed news for Old is bad news for Snake Eyes. In addition to costing a hell of a lot more money to make than its direct competitor ($110 million, according to Deadline), the executives at Paramount were surely hoping that this would be the release that would reignite G.I. Joe on the big screen. This is the first movie from that brand since Jon Chu's G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2013 – which managed to make $375.7 million worldwide – and the result of "also ran" has to be sincerely disappointing when the studio was surely hoping for "big surprise hit of the summer."
Obviously a big difference between Snake Eyes and the last two G.I. Joe movies is the "star power" factor. Stephen Sommers' G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra was promoted featuring a lineup including Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Marlon Wayans, and Sienna Miller, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation was notably a film Dwayne Johnson made during his Franchise Viagra phase. While Henry Golding has certainly gained notoriety following Jon Chu's Crazy Rich Asians, and both Andrew Koji and Samara Weaving have proven themselves as promising up-and-coming talent, Snake Eyes doesn't feature that "big name."
The two new releases obviously pushed Malcolm D. Lee's Space Jam: A New Legacy, Cate Shortland's Black Widow, and Justin Lin's F9 further away from the top spots on the box office chart, but those paying attention will notice that there is a bit of leapfrog action happening in the results. Hollywood was shocked last week when the latest release from Marvel Studios took a 67 percent tumble after a record-breaking opening, falling to second place thanks to the debut of the Space Jam sequel, but in its third week the MCU release has at the very least managed to keep hold of a spot in the Top 3. Not counting the money that the movie has made from being available via premier access on Disney+, Black Widow has now earned $314.9 million worldwide, now ranking twenty-third in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If it wants to climb, it will have to make another $60 million or so theatrically, as Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger pulled in $370.6 million in 2011.
What's significant for Space Jam: A New Legacy specifically, however, is that it is yet another major 2021 summer blockbuster to suffer a major drop in its second week of release. F9 and Black Widow both fell 67 percent in their respective second Friday-to-Sundays, and the LeBron James/Looney Tunes movie has fallen 69 percent. Once again this seems like a case where streaming might be a factor to be blamed, as the movie is one of the Warner Bros. titles that has gotten a day-and-date release on HBO Max. Between the new Marvel movie and Space Jam 2, there is a picture being painted that audiences who really want the big screen experience will go opening weekend, but that everyone else in subsequent weeks are happy to just watch at home. It doesn't seem like it's a very positive thing for the industry, and not helping anything is the murkiness that exists when it comes to studios reporting streaming numbers.
Coming up this week we will see the release of a trio of new movies, including Jungle Cruise (another Disney+ Premier Access title), Tom McCarthy's Stillwater starring Matt Damon, and David Lowery's Arthurian epic The Green Knight. Be sure to come back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to see how everything shakes out at the box office.