Solid PAW PATROL debut destroys Hugh Jackman’s REMINISCENCE but still can’t topple box office sensation FREE GUY.

As the COVID pandemic surges on the wave of the Delta variant, movies faring best at the box office are ones that provide a complete feel-good escape.

Ranking 1, 2 and 3 in multiplexes over the past weekend were, respectively, Free Guy (the reigning champ), PAW Patrol (based on the animated kids series) and Disney’s Jungle Cruise.

Conversely, darker adult fare like newcomers The Protege and Hugh Jackman‘s Inception-like sci-fi thriller Reminiscence languished at #7 and #9, respectively, each failing to reach even a measly $3 million.

Marking the smallest dip of any major release of the pandemic, Free Guy repeated as the #1 movie in the nation during its second weekend in theaters. With a three-day tally of $18.8 million, the action-comedy slipped a mere 34% from its (bigger-than-expected) $28.4 million opening a week ago.

For context, other blockbusters this summer like Black Widow and F9 fell 67% in their second weekends while The Suicide Squad plummeted 70%. Even hits like A Quiet Place Part II and Jungle Cruise which held reasonably well still saw drops of 59% and 54%. By comparison, Free Guy‘s 34% decline is slight and impressive for any era, pandemic or not.

PAW Patrol: The Movie debuted to a solid $13 million even as it was also available to stream on Paramount Plus. It’s a particularly strong showing when you consider that, as as kids movie, PAW Patrol‘s target audience remains unvaccinated, thus likely putting a damper on parental willingness to take the risk (especially with an at-home option). That it opened in the 8-digit range speaks to PAW‘s appeal.

Meanwhile, the abysmal showing of Reminiscence with A-list talent like Jackman is a bit shocking, even for a hybrid release (it’s also available on HBO Max). It barely cobbled together $2 million. The weekend’s other major new title The Protege (starring Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson, directed by Casino Royale helmer Martin Campbell) didn’t fare much better. The action thriller ended up with a disappointing $2.9 million.

With only the Candyman reboot from producer Jordan Peele to contend with as a new rival next weekend, Free Guy is positioned to pull off an unimaginable pandemic feat of staying atop the box office for three weekends in a row. At this point, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings looks to be Free Guy‘s only formidable competition when it finally opens over Labor Day weekend — and exclusively in theaters at that. Shang-Chi will be Disney’s first corporate IP to not have a simultaneous hybrid release option on streamer Disney Plus.

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