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Box Office: ‘F9’ to Stay on Top as ‘Boss Baby’ Sequel, ‘Forever Purge’ and ‘Zola’ Open in Theaters

F9: THE FAST SAGA
Courtesy of Universal/Everett Collection

Any “Fast” fan knows there’s nothing stronger than family. But the second weekend at the box office for “F9: The Fast Saga” will test the potency of the film’s big-screen appeal, as well as lingering skepticism from moviegoers as the cinema industry emerges from the pandemic.

The ninth entry in Universal’s “Fast & Furious” saga opened last weekend to $70 million in North America, marking the best start for a Hollywood movie in more than a year. Ticket sales for the second weekend of “Fast” films tend to decline about 60% from its debut, which would put revenues around $28 million between Friday and Sunday. That haul should easily be enough to retain first place on box office charts.

More good news for beleaguered cinema operators: For the first time in a while, moviegoers will have a pick of more than one high-profile film to watch in theaters. Ahead of the July 4 holiday, there are several major movies releasing nationwide, including Universal’s animated adventure “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and the studio’s chilling sequel “The Forever Purge,” as well as A24’s satirical Twitter-inspired comedy “Zola.” That selection, one that offers something for family crowds, horror mavens and indie film lovers, should help the multiplexes that have been struggling to make do with the scant number of new movies to grace cinemas in the last 18 months.

“The Boss Baby: Family Business,” the sequel to 2017’s DreamWorks Animation comedy “The Boss Baby” is playing in approximately 3,600 theaters and is estimated to bring in $15 million over the weekend. “The Forever Purge,” the fifth installment in the Blumhouse dystopian thriller franchise, will screen in 3,000 venues and should collect around $10 million through Sunday. Notably, Universal should hold the top three spots on domestic box office charts.

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Revenues for “The Boss Baby: Family Business” are expected to be somewhat diminished from the original, and that’s not just because attendance hasn’t returned to pre-COVID levels and the Canadian box office remains severely restricted. Also beginning this weekend, “The Boss Baby: Family Business” will be streaming on the newly launched NBCUniversal online platform Peacock. It’s impossible to know the degree to which the film’s hybrid release will impact opening weekend ticket sales. However, it cost $82 million to produce (the first film was budgeted at $125 million) so it doesn’t need to reach the same box office heights as the original to turn a profit. The 2017 film “The Boss Baby” generated a huge $50 million in its opening weekend and went on to gross $175 million in the U.S. and $527 million globally. In the follow-up film, Alec Baldwin is returning to voice the suit-clad toddler with an inspiring can-do attitude, while James Marsden, Amy Sedaris and Jeff Goldblum round out the voice cast.

For “The Forever Purge,” an opening weekend around $10 million would be a much softer start compared to prior installments in the franchise, which typically average debuts around $20 million to $30 million. Yet its lean $18 million production budget means “The Forever Purge” doesn’t need to break box office records to become commercially successful. “The Forever Purge” is intended to be the final chapter in the unsettling series about a 12-hour period in which all crimes, including murder, are legal. The fifth entry, starring Ana De La Reguera and Tenoch Huerta, takes the no-holds-barred event to the extreme, granting civilians not just one day of government-sanctioned anarchy, but an unending spree of mass mayhem.

Rounding out the weekend is A24’s “Zola,” a social-media-infused comedy from the studio that backed favorites like “Lady Bird,” “Uncut Gems” and “Minari.” Playing in 1,400 North American theaters more than a year after it premiered at the 2020 edition of Sundance Film Festival, “Zola” is projected to bring in $2 million to $4 million in its opening weekend. Janicza Bravo directed the $5 million-budgeted film and co-wrote the script with the Tony-nominated playwright Jeremy O. Harris (“Slave Play”). Dubbed by Rolling Stone as “The Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted,” the film — said to be the first that’s been inspired by a viral Twitter thread — stars Taylour Paige and Riley Keough as fast friends who embark on a road trip to Florida strip clubs that almost immediately turns precarious.

In limited release, Searchlight is premiering “Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” a music documentary from Questlove of the Roots. The film, taking a look back at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, is landing in 700 theaters, as well as on Hulu.