'A Quiet Place Part II' smashes pandemic box office records with $57 million debut

‘A Quiet Place Part II’ smashes pandemic box office records with $57 million debut

The movie business is breathing a little easier after Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” roared to $57 million over the Memorial Day weekend in a sign that cinemas are back after more than a year of pandemic era closures, capacity restrictions and skittish customers.

But the public health situation is changing dramatically, at least in this country, and that’s fueling optimism among exhibitors and studios. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults have had a least one shot of the vaccine and there is even some research that suggests 70 percent of Americans could be vaccinated by the summer. Last week, AMC, Regal, and Cinemark announced that they will no longer require fully vaccinated guests to wear face masks.

What makes the results for “A Quiet Place Part II” particularly notable is that they are roughly in line with what the movie was projected to make prior to the pandemic. That, of course, never played out according to plan.

The sequel was originally set to open in March of 2020, but Covid-19 scrambled those plans. The initial film in the horror franchise, “A Quiet Place,” opened to $50 million in 2018. Of course, the profit margins will be a bit different. The first film cost a mere $17 million to make; its follow-up has a $61 million budget. John Krasinski returned to direct the sequel, with Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds reprising their roles. Djimon Hounsou and Cillian Murphy round out the cast. “A Quiet Place Part II” was shown in 3,726 theaters.

Disney’s “Cruella,” an attempt to explain what makes a certain puppycidal maniac lust for Dalmatian fur, opted for a hybrid release strategy. It’s available to rent on Disney Plus for $30 and is also screening in 3,892 theaters. The film, which stars Emma Stone as the title character and is set in the 1970s fashion world, is expected to open to $26.5 million over the holiday.

MGM and Miramax’s “Wrath of Man,” an action thriller that reunites director Guy Ritchie with his “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” star Jason Statham, captured fourth place on the domestic charts with $2.8 million. That brings its domestic haul to $22.8 million.

Internationally, “A Quiet Place Part II” grossed $22 million, with $14.9 million of that coming from China, where the thriller opened in third place.

Even though the movie business will take comfort from the holiday weekend’s results, the industry still faces serious questions. Some theater chains, such as the Alamo Drafthouse and Studio Movie Grill, are trying to reemerge from bankruptcy, others, such as AMC, have weathered the crisis, but still have a great deal of debt.

Moreover, studios have used the pandemic to experiment with alternative distribution strategies. That’s led most companies, such as Disney, Warner Bros., and Paramount to signal they expect to shorten theatrical windows, industry-speak for the amount of time films are exclusively in cinemas. Instead of 90 days, they want to halve that window to 45 days. Will debuting films on home entertainment platforms earlier ultimately hurt the box office? That remains to be seen.

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