Free Guy gave the box office the big boost it needed, exactly when it needed it.
Reversing a recent trend in which would-be blockbusters like Jungle Cruise and The Suicide Squad opened below industry projections (in large part due to the COVID Delta variant surge), the Ryan Reynolds action-comedy Free Guy exceeded expectations by at least $10 million.
Despite initial data suggesting a debut in the $15-to-$20 million range, Free Guy raked in $28.4 million in its opening weekend. The boon likely brings a sense of relief to studios and theater owners alike (at least momentarily), proving that if the product is good then audiences will still show up.
The turnout is particularly impressive given that Free Guy is an entirely original film, not based on an easier-to-sell pre-existing property, franchise, book, or pop culture sensation with a built-in fanbase.
The most likely explantation for the surprising result: strong word-of-mouth, which could bode well for the movie’s staying power in the coming weeks. (It also helps that Free Guy is a theatrical exclusive and not available at home on any VOD or streaming platform.)
A movie without staying power? The Suicide Squad. The reigning #1 movie saw a brutal 72% drop in receipts, going from $26.5 million last weekend to barely cracking this weekend’s Top 5 with a meager $7.7 million. Also available on HBO Max, Squad‘s $42 million domestic total is lagging far behind its $185 million budget.
Opening at #2 was Don’t Breathe 2, the action-thriller sequel made on a $15 million budget, which took in a healthy $10.6 million. Jungle Cruise sailed to #3 with $9 million, bringing its domestic cume to $82 million. Respect, the new Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, came in at #4. The Oscar-hopeful managed a respectable $8.8 million.