This Memorial Day weekend could be the right combination of new movie releases, number of movie theaters open and increased consumer confidence to break the $100 million mark at the box office.
Since the start of the pandemic, theaters have struggled to lure moviegoers back, even with tantalizing titles like “Godzilla vs. Kong’, ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Wonder Woman 1984’.
The weekend of April 23 has the most profitable weekend box office since the pandemic shut theaters last spring. Ticket sales reached $57 million, with only about 60% of theaters open, according to Comscore data. The weekend’s top earners were “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” and “Mortal Kombat”.
Heading into this Memorial Day weekend, more than 70% of theaters are open and Hollywood has two blockbuster releases: “Cruella” and “A Quiet Place Part II.”
The last time the box office topped $100 million this weekend was March 6, 2020. In non-pandemic times, the Memorial Day weekend averaged about $200 million in ticket sales.
Memorial Day weekend in 2020 shrank to just $842,000 in ticket sales, driven almost entirely by drive-in movie theaters.
“What a difference a year makes when we look at what will be a pivotal Memorial weekend for movie theaters and, thankfully, the start of a true summer film season, something the industry hasn’t seen in two years,” said senior senior Paul Dergarabedian. media analyst at Comscore.
While “Cruella” will have a double release in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access, “A Quiet Place Part II” will be available in theaters only. The sequel has been widely acclaimed by critics and has been earmarked as a must-see, especially at the cinema. In reviews, critics praised how seeing the film in a theater heightened the experience, as sounds — on the screen or in nearby seats — made the thriller more exciting.
With more theaters open and demand pent up, Dergarabedian foresees a chance that Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” could take over “Godzilla vs. Kong” for its highest opening weekend debut since the onset of the health crisis. “Godzilla vs. Kong” opened on the first weekend in April with $32 million in revenue. At that time, only 55% of theaters in North America were open.
The fate of Disney’s “Cruella” is a little less certain as it will be available the same day in theaters and via Disney+ for $30. Some consumers may venture to the cinema to see the film, but others may choose to stay the bank and stream. In addition, the film is getting mixed reviews.
“The performance of the two new films will serve as an example of consumer confidence and enthusiasm for the cinema experience,” said Dergarabedian. “[They will] also help to reinforce the perception of the cinema experience as more viable and essential than ever before and not as some had mistakenly predicted a pre-determined victim of the pandemic.”
If Thursday’s previews are any indication, both films could be headed for strong openings. “A Quiet Place Part II” garnered $4.8 million in ticket sales, while “Cruella” took in $1.4 million. With the Memorial Day weekend weather turning cloudy and gloomy for most of the country, movie theaters may see an increase in visitors from people looking to get out of the house.