Is Moviegoing Back? ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ Meets Pre-Pandemic Expectations As Theaters Drop Restrictions

Topline

A Quiet Place Part II earned an estimated $57 million over Memorial Day weekend—the highest domestic box office haul of the pandemic and in line with projections for its original March 2020 debut—the latest sign that in-person moviegoing is coming back after the industry suffered for a year while theaters remained closed.

Key Facts

A Quiet Place Part II took in approximately $57 million from Friday through Monday, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter report, including an estimated $47.4 million from Friday to Sunday.

That’s not far off from the $55 million that Variety projected in Feb. 2020 the film would make from its original planned release date of March 20, 2020, and is also near the $50 million the original A Quiet Place film grossed in theaters over its opening weekend in April 2018.

In second place was Disney’s live-action Cruella film, which took in an estimated $26.5 million—though that film also debuted on the Disney+ streaming platform with a $30 surcharge in addition to theaters.

Before this weekend, the highest box office openings of the pandemic were for Godzilla vs. Kong on March 31 ($31.6 million) and Mortal Kombat on April 23 ($23.3 million), according to Box Office Mojo.

The box office hauls come as most states have now lifted most restrictions on movie theaters and other indoor activities amid rising vaccination rates and falling cases, after major moviegoing hubs in New York and California only just reopened their theaters in March.

Major cinema chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark also announced Friday they’ll no longer require masks for vaccinated people.

Big Number

$2.1 billion. That’s how much movie theaters in the U.S. grossed in total in 2020, according to Box Office Mojo, marking an 81.4% drop compared with the $11.3 billion grossed in 2019. The average gross for a single film’s release was $4.6 million, compared with $12.4 million in 2019. Movie theaters have so far grossed $636 million in 2021, with an average release of $3.6 million.

Crucial Quote

“There is buzz in the creative community about movie theaters opening,” film producer Jason Blum said at a recent industry event to promote movie theaters coming back, as part of a “The Big Screen Is Back” campaign led by filmmakers and executives. “That’s where most artists want to see their work.”

Contra

While executives at the “The Big Screen Is Back” event touted figures showing 70% of U.S. moviegoers are now comfortable going back to the cinema, other recent polling suggests many may still be hesitant to return. A recent Morning Consult poll conducted May 13-15—after new public health guidance came out saying vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear masks indoors—found only 38% of vaccinated respondents said they would be comfortable going to the movies right now. That rate is slightly higher among unvaccinated Americans, 46% of whom said they’d be fine with going to the movies in a Morning Consult poll conducted May 6-8.

Key Background

The movie theater industry has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. Major movie theater chains like AMC have struggled financially while some smaller ones like Alamo Drafthouse and ArcLight Cinemas have declared bankruptcy or closed entirely. While many films like A Quiet Place Part II, Marvel’s Black Widow and In the Heights pushed back their release dates until in-person moviegoing could resume, distributors and production companies have also been forced to figure out new ways to get new releases out without movie theaters, with new films like Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 debuting through streaming platforms like Disney+ and HBO Max. Even as in-person theatergoing picks up, some of those pandemic-era strategies are likely to continue: WarnerMedia plans to release the rest of its 2021 releases simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, for instance, despite pushback from directors and producers behind some of the films.

What To Watch For

This summer will be filled with a number of other new releases that could take in sizeable box office hauls, including In the Heights (release date June 11), Fast and Furious 9 (June 25), Black Widow (July 9), Space Jam 2: A New Legacy (July 16), The Suicide Squad (August 6) and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Further Reading

Box Office: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ Smashes Pandemic Era Records With $57 Million Debut (Variety)

Warner’s 2021 HBO Max Release Plan Slammed By Christopher Nolan As Legendary Entertainment Reportedly Readies Lawsuit (Forbes)

Kevin Feige, J.J. Abrams, Arnold Schwarzenegger Call for Return to Movie Theaters: “We Are Back” (Hollywood Reporter)

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