Exclusive data from entertainment market research and analytics firm Guts + Data shared with Variety Intelligence Platform demonstrates which upcoming films are likely to help aid the box office’s recovery, as well as the trends driving up gross.
Guts + Data expects Universal’s ninth “Fast & Furious” film to blow past “Godzilla vs. Kong” from Warner Bros., reaching above $50 million in domestic opening weekend gross. The firm conducts weekly surveys across a pool of entertainment consumers whose attitudes toward returning to theaters are assessed alongside their likelihood of seeing films after being shown the trailers.
Given the combination of franchise familiarity and reliance on car-racing action and mayhem, “F9” tracks with other films that have appealed predominantly to male audiences, especially urban-dwelling fathers with kids to take to the movies.
“Titles that appeal to 13-34-year-old males and dads are better suited for the current market than other titles,” says Greg Durkin, founder and CEO of Guts + Data.
“Consumers are easing back into their pre-COVID behaviors, but the transition is gradual,” Durkin explains, referring to survey results that show the overall rate of entertainment consumers “extremely concerned” about COVID-19 is now below the rate of those intending to go to theaters after months of those rates decreasing and increasing at a slow pace, respectively.
Still, things have improved enough that films below tentpole status can help drive up the box office, with Guts + Data projecting a strong showing of $29 million for “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” Lionsgate’s sequel to “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” an R-rated action-comedy with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, who both return in the follow-up.
Durkin cites April’s “high-impact” trailer for “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” as a good indicator it will perform well, and its genre mish-mash certainly makes it a suitable father-son outing that conveniently hits theaters the Wednesday before Father’s Day.
As for other wide releases set for June, Durkin cites “heightened theatrical competition” and “moderate demand” as factors that will prevent films such as Universal’s animated “Spirit Untamed” (June 4), a third “Conjuring” film from Warner Bros. (also June 4) and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation “In the Heights” (June 11) from opening past the “Peter Rabbit” sequel’s projected $18 million.
Most interesting is how the Memorial Day weekend is expected to go. While it’s projected to best the $8.5 million (per Box Office Mojo) earned by Disney’s most recent release, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” the studio’s live-action “Cruella” prequel is unlikely to see as robust a comeback as Paramount’s “A Quiet Place” sequel, the latter for which Guts + Data projects $27 million.
A darker, more adult-oriented take on the “101 Dalmatians” villain with Emma Stone in the titular role, “Cruella” exhibits less of an appeal to wide audiences, with Guts + Data projecting under $15 million for its opening due to the film’s niche spin and the fact that it will also be available to stream via Premier Access on Disney+, which now touts more than 100 million subscribers.
While new Warner Bros. releases have also been available to stream upon theatrical release, those films have skewed more toward the action-oriented thrills appealing to theater-friendly demos.
Likewise, the monster-horror energy of “A Quiet Place” is more akin to the films that have performed best throughout the latter stage of the pandemic, where even more niche films, like video-game adaptation “Mortal Kombat” (another Warner Bros. release) and anime film “Demon Slayer” from Sony-owned FUNimation, helped make April 23 the best domestic box office weekend yet during the pandemic, topping the gross achieved April 2 because of “Godzilla.”
But with films like Marvel’s “Black Widow” (July 9) and Dwayne Johnson’s “Jungle Cruise” (July 30) lined up for summer, it shouldn’t be long before Disney titles again have their day in the sun.