Disney and 20th Century’s Free Guy is officially a box office hit. The Ryan Reynolds starrer topped the United States box office for the second weekend in a row, earning an impressive $18.8 million over the Friday to Sunday time frame. That’s pretty unexpected if you factor in the ongoing pandemic and Hurricane Henri in the Northeast.
A charismatic Ryan Reynolds and good word-of-mouth helped Free Guy dominate the box office domestically, with the film experiencing a mere 34% drop from its opening tally. Known as the second-week hold by industry analysts, this figure indicates whether a movie has theatrical staying power. For most films, a 50% to 60% drop is normal.
“We don’t see 34% drops like this very often, particularly in the pandemic era,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. Interestingly, Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy had the best hold from its first to second week than any film which opened with more than $10 million in ticket sales in the last year.
Free Guy did well internationally too, earning $17.1 million from 46 markets as it soared past the $100 million mark globally. Ryan Reynolds’ action comedy film closed the weekend with a worldwide total of $111.9 million, staying at number one in many territories, including the United Kingdom. In total, the film has secured $112 million globally since its release (via CNBC).
Speaking about the cinema-only release, Boxoffice.com chief analyst Shawn Robbins said, “The conversation around this movie is sticking in a way that is wholly unique to the cinematic experience and distribution path.” This is great news for filmmakers because it’s a testament to what a crowd-pleasing film, with a leading man like Ryan Reynolds, can achieve in theaters.
Ryan Reynolds’ latest offering is a rarity in the current marketplace because it’s an original concept that’s only available in cinemas. Most high-profile movies that had a theatrical-only release (like Universal’s F9 and Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II) are part of established franchises, giving them the advantage of a ready-made fan base.
Free Guy is directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman who also developed the story. The story follows Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a bank teller who discovers that he is actually a non-player character in an open-world video game. He eventually becomes the hero of the story by saving his friends from deletion by the game’s creator.
Starring alongside Ryan Reynolds is Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer, Get Out’s Lil Rel Howery, Stranger Things’ Joe Keery, Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi, and Blindspotting’s Utkarsh Ambudkar. The film also serves as a reunion for Reynolds and Waititi, who previously shared the screen in 2011’s Green Lantern.
Free Guy has received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Ryan Reynolds and the clever concept, comparing it favorably as a combination of Ready Player One, The Truman Show, The Matrix, and Grand Theft Auto. Meanwhile, other new releases struggled to make much of a financial impact. The Protege led the pack with $2.93 million, followed by Searchlight’s long-delayed The Night House with $2.869 million, and the Hugh Jackman led Reminiscence with $2 million. The latter was also made available on HBO Max.