As the delta variant continues to surge across much of the country — and after the National Association of Theater Owners descended on Las Vegas for CinemaCon— the box office enters another weekend in uncertain times, but with a big debut.
The only new wide release, R-rated horror Candyman, opens on roughly 3,400 screens in North America after it was delayed three times over the course of the COVID-19 shutdown. The movie, which was produced by MGM and Jordan Peele’s Monekypaw and is getting a release via Universal, earned $9.1 million over Friday night ticket sales, in addition to its $1.9 million on Thursday from 2,750 theaters. With expectations set for an opening slightly over $20 million, Candyman, which holds a B CinemaScore and a budget of $25 million, will easily win the weekend.
Directed by Nia DaCosta, who is currently helming Marvel’s Captain Marvel 2, and produced by Peele, Candyman is the spiritual sequel to the 1992 horror of the same name and is set in Chicago’s gentrifying Cabrini-Green neighborhood where there is a ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars as an artist who uses that story as inspiration for a new exhibit to disastrous effect. Teyonah Parris and Colman Domingo also star in the movie that received generally positive reviews from critics.
Box office holdovers for this late summer weekend include 20th Century and Disney’s, Free Guy, which has taken the No. 1 spot for two weekends in a row and is likely to have a strong pandemic performance in the No. 2 spot. In its third Friday, Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds’ action-comedy grossed $3.5 million. (Free Guy is nearing the halfway mark of its 45-day exclusive theatrical release before heading to Disney+.)
For both Candyman and Free Guy, 17- to 34-year-old males are the primary demo and have proven to be more willing to go to the multiplexes during the pandemic than other moviegoers.
Elsewhere, Paramount’s PAW Patrol movie is entering its second weekend with $1.7 million, looking to take the No. 3 spot. Unlike both Candyman, which is a theatrical exclusive, and Free Guy, with a delayed streaming release, PAW Patrol was a day-and-date release, available free in-home to Paramount+ subscribers.