BY PAMELA MCCLINTOCK | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
Malcolm D. Lee’s film — starring LeBron James — came in ahead of expectations in North America thanks to a strong family turnout and a diverse audience.
LeBron James was King of the box office this weekend.
Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring the basketball great, beat holdover Black Widow to top the chart with a better-than-expected domestic debut of $31.7 million from 3,956 theaters.
Marvel and Disney’s Black Widow fell to No. 2 in its second outing with $26.3 million. The superhero pic suffered a steep 67 percent decline, one of the biggest drops ever for a Marvel title, and the worst among the Marvel films released by Disney. The decline underscores that the box office recovery is far from over; also, the tentpole is available in the home via Disney+ Premier Access (piracy is another problem).
Heading into the weekend, Warner Bros. expected Space Jam 2 to open in the $20 million range in North America. That would have been a problematic start for a movie that cost a reported $150 million to make. The film instead was buoyed by an A- CinemaScore and an ethnically diverse audience.
Overseas — where numerous markets are still impacted by the pandemic — the film opened to a tepid $23 million from 64 territories for a global start of $54.7 million.
In North America, Space Jam 2 scored the biggest opening for a family title in the pandemic-era despite poor reviews, growing concerns over the Delta variant and new mask mandatesin L.A. County that took effect just before midnight on Saturday. (L.A. is the country’s largest moviegoing market.)
Among ticket buyers, 61 percent were under 25, including 49 percent under 17. The film skewed male overall (54 percent). Caucasians made up 35 percent, followed by Blacks (31 percent), Latinos (27 percent), Asians (4 percent and Native Americans/Other (3 percent). Space Jam over indexed in the East and South, while the West led the charge in pure dollars, according to PostTrak.
The movie’s performance is another win for filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip).
In Space Jam 2, James encounters a plethora of classic Warner Bros. characters. Michael Jordan starred in the first Space Jam, which debuted to roughly $27 million without adjusting for inflation.
The live-action/animated movie is also available on HBO Max. (Black Widow is likewise playing in the home via Disney+ Premier Access for $30.)
Black Widow, placing second, finished Sunday with a 10-day of domestic total $132 million. Overseas, the Scarlett Johansson-starring superhero pic earned another $29.9 million for a global box office total of $264 million and more than $324 million including revenue Disney+ Premier Access.
Last weekend, Disney revealed that Black Widow generated $60 million from Disney+ (Disney+ customers must pay an additional $30 to watch a Premier title). However, the company on Sunday declined to reveal updated Disney+ numbers for the big-budget tentpole.
In terms of pandemic era event pics, F9 also tumbled 67 percent in its sophomore outing.
Sony’s psychological thriller Escape Room: Champion of Tournaments debuted in third place with an estimated $8.8 million from 2,815 theaters.
The sequel was dismissed by many critics but fared somewhat better with moviegoers, who gave it a B CinemaScore. More than 60 percent of ticket buyers were between ages 18 and 34, not surprising for a genre film. Similar to Space Jam 2, Escape Room 2 likewise played to a diverse audience. The mix was 34 Caucasian, 28 percent Black, 26 percent Latino, 12 percent Asian/Native American/Other.
At the specialty box office, the new documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain scored an impressive $1.9 million in its debut from 927 locations to place No. 8. That’s the top documentary opening of the year, as well as the best for any specialty film (the art house market has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic). Focus Features and CNN Films partnered on the film.
The doc about the famous chef, who died in 2018, sparked a debate over ethical issues last week when Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) revealed he had used artificial intelligence to recreate Bourdain’s voice for 45 seconds.
Roadrunner played best on the coasts, with four of the top 10 runs coming from New York City as art house theaters start to make a comeback.
Elsewhere at the specialty box office, Nicolas Cage-starrer Pig debuted to roughly $1 million from 550 runs for Neon to round out the top 10.
Universal’s F9, meanwhile, approached $600 million at the worldwide box office with a domestic total of $154.8 million and $436.4 million. It is only the second film of the pandemic era after A Quiet Place Part II to cross the $150 million mark in North America.
F9 came in No. 4 domestically with $7.6 million, followed by fellow Universal release The Boss Baby: Family Business, which earned $4.7 million for a North American tally of $44.6 million. Universal also claimed the next spot in the chart with The Forever Purge, which grossed $4.2 million for a domestic total of $35.9 million and $48.4 million globally.
Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II — which came in seventh domestically with $2.3 million — finished Sunday with an impressive domestic tally of $155 million and more than $286 million worldwide.
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