We’ve only had one real competitive weekend at the box office since the pandemic began back in April, when Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer duked it out for the top spot. Yet this week, things take on a new tenor as the pandemic begins to subside, and theaters continue to open, and studios allow more than one film to compete for our box-office dollars at a time.
This week, it appears that New Line’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the sixth installment in the Conjuring franchise, is going to narrowly take the top spot over last week’s blockbuster entrant, A Quiet Place Part II. The third Conjuring film featuring Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) earned an estimated $24 million, which is the lowest opening weekend for any of the Conjuring films, but it’s also the only Conjuring film to be released simultaneously on HBO Max for free to subscribers. It’s honestly remarkable how well the simultaneous release strategy is doing for HBO Max, which continues to add millions of subscribers. For instance, the network added 2.7 million subscribers last quarter at $15 per subscriber, and if HBO Max can hang on to those subscribers for a full year, that’s nearly $500 million in annual revenue for the streaming service. (It has also recently added an ad-supported tier).
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It received mixed reviews from critics but notched a solid B Cinemascore (and an 83 percent RT audience score). Not bad for the sixth film in an eight-year-old franchise.
Meanwhile, A Quiet Place Part II continues to put up good box-office numbers, earning another $18.5 million. That’s a steep 59 percent drop compared to only 34 percent for the original after its opening weekend. After 10 days, Part II stands at $88 million, and depending on how Godzilla vs. Kong does this weekend and next, it could become the first film of the pandemic to earn $100 million at the box office (Godzilla entered the weekend with $97 million, but has seen only a trickle in earnings in recent weeks).
Elsewhere, Cruella also continues to put up strong numbers for a film that is also available on Disney (for $30). As most Disney films do, it held well, earning $11 million over the weekend $43.7 million, plus untold millions of dollars that it’s earning on the streaming network that it does not have to share with theaters.
These are all great numbers, especially considering that theaters are not yet at full capacity. Only 73 percent of theaters are open so far in North American, and there’s still so few open in Canada that The Conjuring 3 was made available on PVOD up north.
There was another new release this weekend, as well. Universal’s DreamWorks Animation’s sequel, Spirit Untamed, opened in fourth place with roughly $6.2 million with a very good A Cinemascore, although critics were less impressed, giving it 46 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s not a great number — one of the worst debuts ever for a Dreamworks Animation film — but it’s also a sequel to a 19-year-old film.
Finally, in fifth place this weekend, Jason Statham’s Wrath of Man hangs on to earn another $1.2 million to bring its total to nearly $25 million, which is about what Statham-led films usually generate at the box office.
As the pandemic continues to wind down, new releases continue to ramp up. There are two more wide releases next weekend, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, as well as Warner Brothers In the Heights, based on the Lin Manuel-Miranda play, which will also play next weekend on HBO Max.