After Weeks Of Scares, ‘In The Heights’ and ‘Peter Rabbit 2’ Bring Back Feel Good Entertainment
After four weekends of horror films topping the box office -- a highly unusual occurrence in general and even more so in the summer -- we are moving into some lighter territory with this weekend’s two new wide releases. In The Heights and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway are both opening and hoping to pull in viewers looking for sunny, feel-good experiences as we continue to recover from the pandemic. We still have two weeks to go until we get a proper blockbuster release when F9 makes its stateside debut, but this weekend’s cheery offerings will hopefully continue to draw more moviegoers back to the theaters.

In The Heights looks to take the top spot this weekend as it finally hits theaters nearly a year after its originally scheduled date. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ groundbreaking Broadway hit is given the big screen treatment by director Jon M. Chu, with Hudes writing the screenplay. Chu’s previous filmCrazy Rich Asians was a surprise hit, opening to $26.5 million and finishing with $174.5 million. Word of mouth gave CRA remarkably strong legs, with negligible second and third weekend drops, and similar enthusiasm from audiences could also propel In The Heights, which is at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. This may be why Warner decided on a Thursday opening, getting word-of-mouth flowing for some extra opening weekend juice.

As with Warner’s other releases this year, it will hit HBO Max on the same day. How that impacts a film’s box office is hard to say, but we have seen strong box-office performances from other same-day HBO Max releases when the films have large benefits from the big screen experience, as Godzilla vs. Kong and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It have proven. With the promise of large-scale, brightly-colored hip-hop-tinged musical numbers, In The Heights may be just the sort of film to compel some audiences back to the cinemas. Pre-release page views on IMDb don’t match up to either Crazy Rich Asians or this summer’s top grossers, putting it closer to the films that opened in the range of $10-20 million rather than $20-30 million.

In competition for second place this weekend are last weekend’s top two grossers (A Quiet Place Part II and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), as well as the other new wide release Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which was pushed up a week following its success overseas. This gives Peter three weeks of the kid-friendly market mostly to itself before the July 2 release of The Boss Baby: Family Business. Overseas Peter Rabbit 2 has already racked up $45.8 million, the majority coming from the U.K. and Australia. As with the first Peter Rabbit, Will Gluck writes and directs, and critics felt the sequel, which is at 73% on RottenTomatoes, held up to the original.

The original Peter Rabbit opened to $25 million in February 2018 and had solid holds as it hopped to $115 million domestically. The sequel’s pre-release IMDb page views neither compare to the first film nor other live action/animated hybrids such as the Paddington films as they're considerably lower. Peter Rabbit 2 is also opening in China over the weekend, which should give its global box office a nice boost. China was the third largest territory for the original film after the U.S. and U.K., grossing $26.3 million. The film has yet to open in France, Germany, and Japan, all territories where the original earned over $10 million.

Other than the two new wide openers, the weekend will have a significant milestone attached to it: A Quiet Place Part II should cross $100 million domestically, becoming the only film to do so since the pandemic began. Currently at $93.1 million, it will pass Godzilla vs. Kong as the pandemic’s top grosser. Godzilla Vs. Kong, at $99.2 million, also has a shot of hitting $100 million in the coming weeks, though it seems unlikely this weekend, having only made $521k last weekend.

There are also some titles of note in the limited release category. Menemsha Films is putting out the Hebrew film Asia, which was Israel’s entry to the latest Oscars. IFC is releasing the working class drama Holler, which boasts Paul Feig as an executive producer. Hidden Empire is debuting The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2, a sequel to Meet the Blacks which grossed $9 million in 2016. John Benjamin Hickey stars in Sublet from Greenwich Entertainment. Lastly, Vertical is launching Canada’s award-winning crime film Akilla’s Escape.