© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Cast member Zendaya attends the premiere of the film Space Jam: A New Legacy in Los Angeles, California, United States on July 12, 2021. REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni / File Photo
By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) -The Tune Squad ruled the box office and court charts this weekend. In an unexpected win, “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” which sees LeBron James team up with the animated Looney Tunes team, plunged into the competition with $ 31.6 million in ticket sales.
The Warner Bros. sequel to 1996’s “Space Jam” beat forecasts, which projected that the film would generate $ 20 million in its first three days of release. Critics rejected “Space Jam: A New Legacy” (it has a bleak 31% average on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences seemed to embrace the film, awarding it an “A-” CinemaScore. “Space Jam 2” screened in 3,965 theaters in North America, while it was available on HBO Max at no additional charge to subscribers.
“The marketing for this movie really looked fun and helped alert audiences everywhere,” said Jeff Goldstein, president of national distribution for Warner Bros.
The better-than-expected start to “Space Jam 2” pushed last weekend’s champion, Disney and Marvel’s “Black Widow,” to second place on the box office charts. The superhero adventure, starring Scarlett Johansson, grossed $ 26.3 million in its second weekend, representing a whopping 67% decline. So far, “Black Widow” has generated $ 131 million in North America and $ 264 million globally.
Despite concerns about the Delta variant and its hybrid release on HBO Max, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” landed the biggest debut for a family movie during COVID. At the beginning of the pandemic, films aimed at younger audiences such as “The Croods: A New Age” and “Tom and Jerry” had generated the most money. But summer deals like “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” and “Spirit Untamed” had flopped with family crowds. “Space Jam 2,” which came 26 years after the original, is the first film in some time to bring viewers with children back to theaters. Men accounted for 53% of sales, while 52% of ticket buyers were under the age of 25.
“This weekend is a positive indication that the family audience is alive, well, and based on ‘Space Jam 2’ rave audience ratings, still excited for the big screen,” says David A. Gross, who directs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment. Investigate.
Sony “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” (NYSE 🙂 opened in third place with $ 8.4 million from 2,815 locations. Though on par with industry expectations, its three-day debut marks a sharp decline from its predecessor, 2019’s “Escape Room,” which debuted at $ 18 million and ended its box office streak at $ 57 million. The sequel cost $ 15 million to produce, a $ 9 million price increase from the first film.
At No. 4, Universal’s “Fast and Furious” sequel “F9” grossed $ 7.6 million in its fourth launch weekend, bringing its overall national tally to $ 154 million. Another Universal title, “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” rounded out the top five, generating $ 4.7 million over the weekend. In total, the 2017 animated sequel to “Boss Baby” has grossed $ 44 million in theaters while simultaneously streaming on the nascent Peacock streaming service.
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