There are plenty of industries that have been hit hard by the pandemic, and movie theaters are definitely one of them. Will this experience forever change how audiences experience new movies? If people can watch a movie on streaming at home, will they still head to the movie theater? In some parts of the country, restrictions are beginning to lift. At the same time, studios are beginning to roll out a few of the many movies have that been delayed during this time, waiting for their moment in theaters. In recent months, the movies that have come out, have seen box office numbers that are hard to interpret. What counts as a success during a pandemic? How many movies will ever recover their budgets? Giving hope to the movie studios and theaters everywhere, this past weekend A Quiet Place Part II saw numbers that have broken pandemic records.
A Quiet Place Part II was set to premiere in March 2020, right at the start of pandemic closures. At the time, no one knew how long it would be until theaters opened again, but few likely projected how long the movie would sit on the shelf. Paramount finally released it during Memorial Day Weekend. The pre-sale tickets for the sequel were strong, leading many to hope, and yet everyone was surprised when the horror film brought in $57 million over the weekend.
Some of the most important notes for this number? First, it was close to what experts had projected the movie would make before the pandemic started. Second, it’s more than the first film opened with. A Quiet Place earned $50 million at the box office during its opening weekend. Third, A Quiet Place Part II was made on a $61 million budget. This means that it has nearly recovered its costs during the opening weekend. At the pre-pandemic box office this may have been judged differently, but nearly recovering costs is a huge achievement today.
It may be easy to underestimate just how big of a deal for the box office this is. While the pandemic effects are surely not over, this offers hope. In the future, when people discuss the history of movie theaters and how the pandemic changed the industry, the box office numbers for A Quiet Place Part II will be a moment that gets noted.
Let’s consider a wider picture for how numbers at the box office have looked recently. Angelina Jolie released a thriller called Those Who Wish Me Dead. That film opened to only $2.8 million. Spiral, a Saw movie earned $8.7 million during its opening weekend. After 13 weeks in theaters, Raya and the Last Dragon has finally earned $51.6 million, which is slightly less than A Quiet Place Part II‘s $57 million that it earned over Memorial Day.
The box office isn’t back to normal by any means. This doesn’t indicate a permanent performance shift. There are many struggles ahead for the industry, and it’s unlikely that movie releases will ever be exactly the same. With streaming releases becoming more popular, movie theaters are negotiating with studios on release timelines. It may become more normal for some new releases to have a 45-day exclusivity to movie theaters before being available on streaming, as opposed to a 90-day window that existed before. It may also become more normal for movies to release on streaming and in theaters at the same time. On those releases, how will we judge future box office numbers? How will we know when a movie was a financial success? There’s no telling where the industry will be a year from now, but this opening weekend definitely felt like a shift toward something like hope for the future of theaters.