‘F9’ made more than ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ in its opening weekend at the North American box office

Vin Diesel in "F9" Fast 9
Vin Diesel in “F9.”

  • “F9” had a pandemic-best opening at the domestic box office over the weekend with $70 million.
  • It earned more than the $60 million the last “Fast and Furious” movie, “Hobbs and Shaw,” earned.
  • “F9” has grossed more than $400 million worldwide.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The latest “Fast and Furious” movie, “F9,” earned $70 million at the North American box office over the weekend, a new pandemic-best opening that topped the previous record holder, “A Quiet Place Part II.”

80% of the North American theatrical market is open, according to Comscore.

The ninth installment’s debut is also more than the last “Fast” movie’s, the spinoff “Hobbs and Shaw” in 2019. That movie earned $60 million domestically in its opening weekend and went on to gross $760 million worldwide. The eighth installment in the main “Fast” saga though, “The Fate of the Furious,” earned $98 million domestically in its debut in 2017 and ultimately made more than $1 billion worldwide.

“Tentpole sequels and horror films were already pillars of yearly theatrical revenue before the pandemic, so it logically tracks that they’re among the early standouts during this transition back into normal life for many people,” said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst.

“F9” has already grossed $405 million globally. Though the movie has slowed in the franchise’s key market China, where it opened last month, it has still grossed $217 million there (more than the $201 million “Hobbs and Shaw” earned in the region, but less than the $393 million “The Fate of the Furious” made).

It opened with $136 million in China, but fell a whopping 85% in its second weekend there with $20.6 million. The drop is dramatic, but not unprecedented. “The Fate of the Furious” fell 70% in its second weekend in China.

With more international markets still to come, “F9” will likely pass “Godzilla vs. Kong” as this year’s highest-grossing Hollywood release so far. The Warner Bros. monster mashup, which debuted in March, grossed $442 million worldwide.

“F9’s performance bodes well for other tentpoles coming up with higher ceilings of potential, but we have to be cautious in expectations during this ever-evolving marketplace,” Robbins said.

While “F9’s” opening is a positive sign for movie theaters, the industry still has a ways to go to full recovery. The strength of the theatrical market in the near future could be just as much about legs as solid debuts, according to the Exhibitor Relations media analyst Jeff Bock – meaning “F9’s” second weekend could be significant.

“The most concerning aspect is the lack of long-play films in the marketplace,” Bock said. “The key for the theatrical industry going forward is sustainability. That means either consistent openings or marathon holds.”

And the pandemic has fundamentally shifted how studios approach distribution practices.

Universal, the studio behind the “Fast and Furious” movies, has struck deals with some of the biggest theater chains to shorten the theatrical window from the pre-pandemic 75 days to just 17 in most cases, at which point it can release a movie to digital-rental platforms.

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‘In the Heights’ underwhelmed at the box office, but new data suggests it’s not HBO Max’s fault

in the heights usnavi
“In the Heights.”

  • “In the Heights” underwhelmed at the domestic box office over the weekend with $11 million.
  • But data suggests it also underperformed on HBO Max compared to other Warner Bros. movies this year.
  • That means a low theatrical turnout isn’t necessarily streaming’s fault, in this case.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“In the Heights,” the new movie based on the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, underwhelmed at the US box office over the weekend with $11.4 million.

Its haul was below projections that placed it closer to $20 million, and it failed to top “A Quiet Place Part II,” which has been in theaters for two weeks.

The Warner Bros. film, which was directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” filmmaker Jon M. Chu, was released simultaneously on the WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max over the weekend, as are all of Warner Bros.’ films this year.

But data suggests that it’s not Max’s fault that the movie disappointed at the box office. It also underperformed on the streaming service compared to other new Warner Bros. movies.

693,000 US households watched at least five minutes of “In the Heights” on HBO Max over the weekend via connected TVs, according to estimates from the analytics company Samba TV. Samba TV tracks viewership on connected TVs, which include smart TVs, streaming devices like Roku, and gaming consoles (WarnerMedia declined to provide viewership numbers for “In the Heights.”)

Other Warner Bros. releases this year, which have performed better at the box office than “In the Heights” in their opening weekends, also drove more viewership on Max, according to Samba TV data. It suggests that streaming viewership doesn’t necessarily cannibalize theatrical attendance.

Here are four Warner Bros. movies this year that debuted in theaters and on Max simultaneously, and how their opening weekends compared on Max (via Samba TV estimates) and at the box office in the US:

  • “Mortal Kombat” – 3.8 million households on Max / $23.3 million at box office
  • “Godzilla vs. Kong” – 3.6 million households on Max (five-day weekend) / $48.5 million at box office (five days)
  • “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” – 1.6 million households on Max $24 million at box office
  • “Tom and Jerry” – 1.2 million households on Max / $14.1 million at box office

Warner Bros. head of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein also implied “In the Heights” had underperformed relative to other releases in comments to the Associated Press on Sunday.

“Our experience, which is backed up on ‘In the Heights,’ is that if the movie hits a high level in theaters, it hits a high level on the service,” Goldstein said. “If it hits a low level in theaters, it hits a low level on HBO Max. They’re really very comparable.”

While “In the Heights” didn’t attract as big an audience in its debut as other Warner Bros. releases this year, it’s been a hit with critics and has a 97% Rotten Tomatoes critic score. Viewers who did see the movie also seemed to love it; it has a 95% Rotten Tomatoes audience score and an A from CinemaScore, which surveys theatrical audiences on a movie’s opening night. That means the movie could pick up steam from word-of-mouth buzz.

Warner Bros. has largely dominated the box office so far this year despite its movies also streaming, and “In the Heights” seems to be an exception.

The box office could look more balanced as more studios release delayed tentpole films this summer, though, including Disney’s “Black Widow” and Universal’s “Fast and Furious 9.”

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‘F9,’ the next ‘Fast and Furious’ installment, will be the first major post-pandemic test for the movie theater industry

summer blockbuster
Universal Studios.

Hello! This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email publication read by 2.5 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up here to get it!

Summer is here, which means it’s once again time to enter a dark, over-air conditioned space and stare at a screen for three hours.

At least that’s what the movie theater industry is hoping. After a debacle of a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, the lucrative summer movie season unofficially kicks off this year with “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Cruella,” which will hit US theaters Memorial Day weekend.

Early indicators for movie theaters are looking…better, relative to the utter collapse some predicted last year. The ninth installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, “F9,” debuted in international markets this weekend and brought in $162.4 million, $135.6 million of which came from China. That’s the best opening of a Hollywood film since the pandemic began.

When “F9” hits the US box office on June 25 its performance, plus the success of the previously mentioned blockbusters, will help us learn more about the state of the theater industry.

What we already know

North American movie theater revenue plunged to $2.2 billion in 2020 from $11.4 billion in 2019 as the pandemic caused theaters to shut down for months. Closures were especially painful during the summer season, which brings in about 40% of the year’s total haul. Last summer, theaters grossed $176 million, a 96% decrease from 2019.

Now, even as the credits begin to roll on the pandemic, most film executives recognize that the future of moviegoing probably involves some moviegoing, some moviestaying. Every major studio outside of Sony now has an affiliated streaming service.

But how much of each is in the equation? No one knows the answer yet. This year, many movies will be released in theaters before coming to your small screen, but others will be rolled out in theaters and on streaming simultaneously, or they’ll ditch the theater part altogether.

Looking ahead…some of the year’s most anticipated releases include “In the Heights” (June 11), the new “Space Jam” (July 16), “The Suicide Squad” (August 6), and a “Candyman” reboot (August 27).

This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, a daily email publication. Sign up here to get it!

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‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ earned $48 million at the US box office over the weekend, the best opening during the pandemic

godzilla vs kong
“Godzilla vs. Kong”

  • “Godzilla vs. Kong” earned $48.5 million in its five-day opening weekend at the US box office.
  • It’s the best opening yet for a movie at the domestic box office during the year-long pandemic.
  • It signals hope for movie theaters, though the industry still has a long road to recovery.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” beat the odds over the weekend at the box office.

The new monster movie from Warner Bros. earned $48.5 million at the US box office in its first five days (it opened in theaters on Wednesday), and $32.2 million over the three-day Easter weekend from 3,064 theaters.

It’s the best domestic opening yet for a movie during the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated the theatrical industry over the past year. The movie grossed $121 million during its international opening last month, which was also a pandemic-best. Its global total is now $285 million.

The movie’s predecessor, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” earned $47.8 million domestically over its first three-day weekend in 2019. It went on to earn $110.5 million domestically and $386 million worldwide.

It’s more impressive considering that “Godzilla vs. Kong” debuted on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max for no additional fee to subscribers on the same day it hit theaters in the US, as are all of Warner Bros.’ movies this year.

Theaters across the country are also operating at limited capacity, including in New York City, one of the biggest theatrical markets in the US that finally opened last month after a year of being shut down.

While the numbers would normally be underwhelming for a blockbuster that cost $200 million to produce, “Godzilla vs. Kong’s” strong start signals hope for movie theaters – though they still have a long road to full recovery.

The last pandemic-best domestic opening was Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” in December with $16.7 million. The movie also debuted on HBO Max simultaneously with theaters. While it would ultimately slow at the box office with a $45 million domestic total (and $165 million worldwide), data showed that it boosted HBO Max signups.

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Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ disappointed, but the overall weekend box office made experts optimistic about the industry’s recovery

raya and the last dragon
“Raya and the Last Dragon”

  • Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” earned $8.6 million at the US box office over the weekend.
  • It did not play at Cinemark venues because the chain did not reach a licensing deal with Disney.
  • The total box office was up, giving analysts reason to be optimistic about the theatrical industry.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” earned $8.6 million at the US box office over the weekend in its debut (and $26 million worldwide), a disappointing total even amid the pandemic for a Disney animated movie – more so considering Warner Bros.’ “Tom and Jerry” earned $14 million the weekend prior.

“There is always a spotlight and high expectations placed on any Disney release, but ‘Raya’ entered a marketplace that already had two PG-rated animated films, ‘Tom & Jerry’ and ‘Croods 2,'” said Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst.

There’s a couple more factors that could have contributed to the movie’s underwhelming performance. Notably, it didn’t play at Cinemark venues and some other chains because they didn’t reach a licensing deal with Disney (it did play at AMC). The movie played on around 400 fewer screens than “Tom and Jerry” did in its opening weekend.

“In the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a discrete, film-by-film basis, focusing on the long-term benefit of exhibitors, studios, and moviegoers,” Cinemark told Deadline. “While we are having conversations with The Walt Disney Company, we have not yet reached agreeable licensing terms for ‘Raya and the Last Dragon.'”

“[Theaters] need Disney a lot more than Disney needs them right now,” said Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst. “Hopefully a deal will be worked out for the sake of theatrical exhibition.”

The movie also debuted on Disney Plus simultaneously with theaters at an additional “Premier Access” $30 fee for subscribers. In contrast, “Tom and Jerry” is available on HBO Max for no additional cost.

“$30 for a family of 4 is still a very good deal for blockbuster entertainment,” Bock said.

We don’t know exactly how “Raya and the Last Dragon” performed on Disney Plus. The first movie Disney utilized the Premier Access strategy with, last year’s live-action “Mulan” remake, performed well enough that Disney promised to experiment with it on other titles. “Raya and the Last Dragon” was No. 4 in Disney Plus’ “trending” category on Monday, behind Marvel’s “WandaVision,” “The Simpsons,” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” (though it’s unclear how Disney calculates this list).

Bock said that we’ll know how successful the movie was on Disney Plus if Disney implements a similar strategy with upcoming tentpole releases still slated for theaters, like “Black Widow” and “Cruella.”

But even though the “Raya and the Last Dragon” underperformed, the US box office earned a total of $25 million over the weekend, giving analysts reason to be hopeful for the future of the theatrical industry.

It was down 76% compared to the same weekend last year, Bock said. But when compared to the average of a 90% decrease since theaters reopened in August, it’s a noticeable improvement.

New York City movie theaters reopened on Friday at limited capacity, which likely gave the box office a slight boost.

“The bottom line is that while the film’s debut may not have been as strong as some might have hoped, it was a building block in one of the top-grossing overall weekends since the movie-theater shutdown in mid-March [last year],” Dergarabedian said.

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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ stalled at the China box office with a 92% decline from last week

wonder woman 1984 diana prince 4
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman 1984.”

  • “Wonder Woman 1984” earned $1.5 million at the China box office over the weekend, a 92% decline from its debut in the region. 
  • The Hong Kong action movie “Shock Wave 2” earned $64.5 million in China and the Chinese fantasy movie “Dream of Eternity” grossed $39 million over the weekend.
  • “Wonder Woman 1984” scored a lackluster 7.8 on the Chinese ticketing app Maoyan and a 6.5 from the Chinese social network Douban, suggesting audiences weren’t enthused about the movie. 
  • It fared better in the US over the weekend with $16.7 million, the best opening of the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Wonder Woman 1984” took a nosedive at the China box office in its second weekend in theaters in the region.

The superhero sequel earned just $1.5 million over the weekend, according to Artisan Gateway, a Chinese film consulting firm. It’s a 92% decline from its debut weekend in China when it earned a disappointing $18 million.

It has grossed $85 million globally so far.

The movie’s debut weekend was a slow one across the board for China, whose theatrical industry has otherwise started to rebound after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic (the Chinese box office has even surpassed North America as the world’s biggest this year). The Chinese movie “The Rescue” also fell below projections with $36 million last weekend.

But this weekend was different, as the Hong Kong action movie “Shock Wave 2” earned $64.5 million in China and the Chinese fantasy movie “Dream of Eternity” grossed $39 million. Yet “Wonder Woman 1984” continued to flounder in the region.

READ MORE: DC wants to make 2 superhero movies a year that would be exclusive to HBO Max

“Wonder Woman 1984” fared better in its debut in US theaters over the weekend. It made $16.7 million, the best opening since the pandemic began, but a sign that US movie theaters are far from a full recovery. 2017’s “Wonder Woman” earned $103 million in its opening weekend in the US. It ultimately grossed $822 million worldwide, $90.5 million of which came from China.

“Wonder Woman 1984” debuted simultaneously on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max in the US over the weekend (it’s not available internationally yet). WarnerMedia said on Sunday that nearly half of its retail subscribers (those who subscribe directly to Max rather than through a cable provider) watched the movie on its first day on Friday, but didn’t provide specific viewership numbers. Max had 12.6 million activations as of December 8.

Industry experts previously said that piracy could be an issue once the movie had become available to stream.

“A pristine, high-definition copy of the movie will be available in everyone’s queues within days,” Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst, told Business Insider last week. 

But a lack of enthusiasm for “Wonder Woman 1984” may have contributed to its dramatic decline at the China box office. It scored a 7.8 on the Chinese ticketing app Maoyan and a 6.5 from the Chinese social network Douban, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie has generally been favored less than its predecessor, “Wonder Woman,” among audiences and critics.

It has a 65% Rotten Tomatoes critic score and a 73% audience score based on over 1,700 user ratings (“Wonder Woman” has a 93% critic score and 84% audience score). The sequel received a B+ on Cinemascore, which surveys audiences on a movie’s opening night (the first movie received an A).

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