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Box Office is Back Thanks to ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ and ‘World War Z’

In our first box office report since the pandemic, the ‘Quiet Place’ sequel shows strong attendance numbers to kick off the summer movie season.
A quiet place part II
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on May 31st, 2021

Sixty-three weeks later, I’m finally back to bring you a new box office report. Moviegoing has returned! Following last week’s disappointing debut from Spiral, the latest and lowest-grossing entry of the Saw franchise (which is already hitting VOD this week), another horror sequel has made it known that Americans are, at last, ready to see movies on the big screen again in droves: John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II opened with a reported $47.5 million over its first three days, with another estimated $10.1 million being added on Memorial Day for a holiday weekend total of about $57.1 million.

The follow-up to Krasinski’s own 2018 original, A Quiet Place, easily had the best domestic opening of the year so far, and it is already the second-highest-grossing movie of 2021 — Godzilla vs. Kong retains the throne for now. But the best evidence that A Quiet Place Part II is the movie to signal a real return of moviegoing is that the sequel grossed nearly the same amount as the first A Quiet Place did in its opening three years ago. Over its first three days in early April 2018, the original did $50.2 million. And while it’s not necessarily comparable given the lack of a holiday, the movie grossed just $54.4 million in its first four days.

With the average ticket price being $9.11 for the year 2018, that means about 5.5 million tickets were sold over the first three days of A Quiet Place‘s run compared to about 5.2 million ticket buyers for A Quiet Place Part II, from Friday through Sunday. This is based on The Numbers claiming the current average ticket price is still $9.16, the same as it’s been for the past couple of years. Over four days, A Quiet Place brought in about 6 million people versus A Quiet Place Part II‘s 6.2 million people over its initial four days — again, that’s with the first Monday being a holiday for the latter film’s release.

A Quiet Place Part II also had a better opening day box office gross ($19.4 million) than the first movie ($18.9 million), and that is even true when we look at ticket sales. The sequel sold an estimated 2.11 million on Friday versus A Quiet Place selling an estimated 2.07 million on its first Friday. And after dropping far below the original’s second-day gross, A Quiet Place Part II also had a better first Sunday with 1.4 million tickets sold versus the original’s 1.3 million. I won’t bother pointing out the difference in fourth-day figures, though, because of the holiday.

Not everything is totally back to normal, however, as the world of box office continues to be a strange one as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes in concern due to widespread vaccination. Case in point: rounding out the top ten highest-grossing movies of the holiday weekend is World War Z (the Vietnamese comedy Bo Gia ranked tenth for the three-day weekend). That’s right, the 2013 zombie-apocalypse action movie starring Brad Pitt, which never topped the charts in its original run and only spent five weekends in the top ten. World War Z reportedly grossed $347,000 over the weekend — $448,000 when we include Memorial Day — beating such recent releases as Mortal Kombat and Nobody.

Attendance-wise, the figures for World War Z are not as easy to analyze since the movie was part of a double-feature with A Quiet Place Part II at eighty drive-in locations across the country. If we broke it down based on the average ticket price, that’d be about 38,000 people over three days (and 49,000 over four days), but we can’t assume that sort of breakdown with a double-feature price point, which typically offers two movies for the price of one and can vary tremendously among those eighty drive-ins. And I admit, I’m not sure how that ticket price is divided among the new and old releases to determine World War Z‘s gross.

What about the other big new release of the weekend? Disney’s Cruella grossed $21.5 million over three days and $26.5 million for the holiday weekend, which is about 2.3 million tickets sold through Sunday and 2.9 million through Monday. That’s pretty good considering the live-action One Hundred and One Dalmatians prequel was also available day-and-date on Disney+, albeit for a surcharge of $29.99. The previous Disney release to have a similar strategy was the animated feature Raya and the Last Dragon, which opened with just $8.5 million, yet that was also from a little more than half as many screens.

Compared to other movies in the Dalmatians franchise, Cruella has nothing on the 1996 live-action remake 101 Dalmatians, which sold about 7.6 million tickets over its opening weekend, or even the lesser 2000 sequel, 102 Dalmatians, which still brought in an attendance of about 3.7 million. There are no opening weekend figures for the original 1961 release of the animated One Hundred and One Dalmatians nor the 1969 nor 1979 re-releases, but in 1985, the movie opened to an estimated attendance of just 673,000. Yet the 1991 re-release actually drew 2.4 million for its opening.

Cruella‘s debut did fall short of Variety’s claim that the movie could gross more than $30 million for the four-day weekend, but Box Office Pro had forecast the movie’s gross being just $22 million through Monday (they did have the higher amount in their long-range forecast last month). They also had A Quiet Place Part II down for only $51 million, so the site’s experts were low-balling all around, which is understandable in these times. The only losers were the Angelina Jolie vehicle Those Who Wish Me Dead, which dropped so significantly as to fall short of Box Office Pro’s prediction by nearly half, and Mortal Kombat, which both fell short and failed to make the top ten chart at all, thanks to World War Z.

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally seen as the start of “summer,” including the summer movie season, so we’re off to a good start for any year and especially for the end-ish of the pandemic year-plus frame. We’ll see if another horror sequel (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) and another family film (the animated franchise installment Spirit Untamed) can keep the momentum going next weekend. Or even if A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella hold steady after this past weekend’s numbers influence more movie fans to return to theaters — if they feel safe and comfortable doing so.

Here are this week’s top ten movie releases by estimated ticket sales (with four-day amounts in parentheses [and totals in brackets]):

1. A Quiet Place Part II: 5.2 million (6.2 million) [6.2 million]
2. Cruella: 2.3 million (2.9 million) [2.9 million]
3. Raya and the Last Dragon: 0.26 million (0.31 million) [5.6 million]
4. Spiral: 0.242 million (0.29 million) [2.2 million]
5. Wrath of Man: 0.238 million (0.30 million) [2.5 million]
6. Godzilla vs. Kong: 0.1 million (0.12 million) [10.7 million]
7. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train: 0.09 million (0.17 million) [5.1 million]
8. Dream Horse: 0.07 million (0.07 million) [0.2 million]
9. Those Who Wish Me Dead: 0.06 million (0.08 million) [0.8 million]
10. Bo Gia: 0.0382 million (tbd) [0.04 million]
10. World War Z: 0.0379 million (0.05 million) [ 0.04 million]

All box office gross figures sourced from Box Office Mojo, The Numbers, and Box Office Pro. 

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.