Continuing to make movie distribution decisions on a case-by-case basis -- in terms of theaters and/or streaming platforms --- Walt Disney’s “Free Guy” scored $28.4 million in U.S. box-office revenue for its theater-exclusive opening weekend, over-performing on estimates from the studio, which was expecting around $17 million to $20 million.
The company was so happy with the results from the movie starring Ryan Reynolds that “Free Guy” got a thumbs up from the studio for a sequel, according to a Reynolds tweet.
The movie had the third-best theater-exclusive opening for a film since the pandemic began in in March 20. Theaters are getting a somewhat now standard 45-day exclusive window for “Free Guy” before moving onto the Disney+ premium streaming service.
Since the pandemic began, the best results in the closely watched theater-exclusive category of opening-weekend movies has been Universal Pictures “F9: The Fast Saga,” which earned $70 million for its first three-day period in late June.
Two other major studio movies also opened this weekend: Sony’s “Don’t Breathe 2” and Warner Bros. “Respect,” which pulled in $10.6 million and $8.8 million, respectively.
“Free Guy” was shown in 4,108 theaters; “Don’t Breathe 2” in 3,005 and “Respect” in 3,207, according to Comscore.
Comscore says 86% of U.S. movie theaters are currently open. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, said: “Free Guy” posted a “solid” $6,819 in per theater revenue for the weekend.
In estimated national TV spending, “Free Guy” saw $11.2 million coming from 3,132 airings, for the entire ad campaign run so far -- which began in earnest on July 11 -- producing 1.1 billion impressions, according to iSpot.tv. A typical movie TV campaign runs four to six weeks before debuting.
MGM’s “Respect” has a projected $8.1 million coming from 4,106 airings. The campaign started fully on July 15, producing 1.04 billion impressions.
Sony Pictures’ “Don’t Breathe 2” -- a sequel, with built-in brand awareness -- spent an estimated $4.9 million for 3,062 airings, yielding 670.4 million impressions.