Slow Weekend Ahead In The U.S., ‘F9’ Races Into China, And U.K. Reopens With ‘Peter Rabbit 2’
The summer movie season will finally get some gas in its tank next weekend with the release of Cruella and A Quiet Place Part II, but this weekend the domestic box office will mostly be spinning its wheels. With no new wide releases, the titles in the top ten on the box office chart could look a lot like last week’s, perhaps with a few of the new limited releases sprinkled in. We’re likely headed into the lowest grossing weekend in months, which is unusual for the latter half of May, especially when you factor in the pandemic’s waning presence.

Spiral’s $8.7 million opening was the lowest in the Saw franchise’s long history, but the film has a good chance of breaking a franchise record this weekend and becoming the first film in the series to come in at number one at the box office for two straight weekends. That would give this mostly uneventful weekend one interesting statistic, though if it has a drop in the range of 60-70%, as the past handful of Saw films have done, and Wrath of Man has a strong third weekend hold, we may see last weekend’s number one and two reverse. Other than those two holdovers, it is unlikely any film will even crack $2 million this weekend.

Audiences looking for something new, though, can find it in the slew of limited releases debuting. IFC is releasing Australia’s Eric Bana led thriller The Dry on 186 screens after it received rave reviews (94% Tomatometer) and broke box office records in its home country. The Italian language Bad Tales (Favolacce) is being released by Strand over a year after its 2020 debut in competition at Berlin. Neon is putting out New Order, the 2020 Venice Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner. Also from Venice is the Holocaust-themed documentary Final Account, which Focus is releasing. Offering a less harrowing take on the era is the German film When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, based on the first of Judith Kerr’s "Out of the Hitler Time" young adult novels and being released by Greenwich Entertainment. In more feel-good territory is Bleeker Street’s Dream Horse, which premiered at Sundance in 2020.

Despite a stalled domestic box office, there will be more to celebrate globally as F9 opens in a number of territories, including China, Russia, South Korea, and the Middle East, over one month ahead of its June 25 stateside release. It looks to have the biggest international opening for a Hollywood film since the start of the pandemic, likely beating Godzilla vs. Kong’s $121 million international bow.

The global release strategy is more staggered than usual, with F9's U.K. opening slated for June 24th, key European territories not coming until July, and the Japanese release scheduled for August, but it makes sense to prioritize the Chinese release while holding out in other major territories. China has become the Fast & Furious series’ largest market and accounts for one-quarter to one-third of global gross for recent entries of the franchise. The Fate of the Furious opened to $184.9 million in China and collected $392.8 million durings its run, just ahead of Furious 7’s $390.9 million China cume.

Early numbers from South Korea should give Universal, not to mention the industry as a whole, something to feel good about. F9 opened Wednesday in the territory with $3.4 million, not only the best in the series but also the best opening day gross the country has seen since before the pandemic, besting the $2.4 million that Peninsula grabbed when it opened last July. This follows what has been a lull in South Korea’s box office, and we hope to see more national box office numbers return to some level of normalcy in the coming months.

One country whose box office is hoping to find its footing this weekend is the U.K., which reopened indoor theaters with 50% capacity in most of the country on May 17 after being shut since last fall. Leading the charge is Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which doesn’t hit American shores until June 18. The film has already racked up $20 million worldwide, and the U.K. represents a key territory for the film, having been the biggest market after the U.S. for 2018’s Peter Rabbit.

France also saw theaters reopen on the 19th after having been closed since late fall. With only 35% capacity for theaters and a 9pm curfew, the box office will likely remain muted, but restrictions will ease on June 9th, with 65% capacity and an 11pm curfew as well as the return of concession sales, and on June 30th all restrictions will be lifted.