Shyamalan’s ‘Old’ Beats G.I. Joe’s ‘Snake Eyes’ As The Box Office Hits A Speed Bump
As far as brand names go, it looks like G.I. Joe is no match for M. Night Shyamalan. Many were expecting the weekend to be won by Snake Eyes, which is essentially a reboot of the G.I. Joe series, but Old, the latest from Shyamalan, snuck past it, despite not setting the box office on fire itself. With big declines from both Black Widow and Space Jam: A New Legacy, this weekend had the lowest overall gross since before F9: The Fast Saga opened a month ago (though it’s neck and neck with July 2-4, so the actuals may change that). It is hard to say whether this is due to a lack of enticing new content to draw people in, renewed fears of Covid due to the Delta variant and rising cases, or many of the top films being available for streaming, and it is likely that all three played some role.

Old took home $16.5 million for the weekend from 3,355 theaters. The film cost $18 million and is the fourth low-ish budget self-financed film from M. Night Shyamalan (following The Visit, Split, and Glass, all distributed by Universal) after his disappointing flirtations with blockbusters (The Last Airbender, After Earth). Old, which is based on the graphic novel "Sandcastle," by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters, also took home another $6.5 million internationally, with some of its top markets including Russia/CIS, U.K., Ireland, Mexico, Italy, and France. The film opens this upcoming weekend in Brazil, Germany, and Spain, with South Korea and Japan following next month.

Falling below Lady in the Water’s $18 million opening, Old takes the claim of being Shyamalan’s lowest wide opening, and it ends the hot streak he has had since going indie. Still, considering its relatively low budget, its lack of stars (the biggest name is Gael Gabriel Garcia), and of course the pandemic, all in all it’s not a bad opening, even if the C+ Cinemascore and 52% Tomatometer don’t give hope for great legs. Old is the seventh number one for the writer/director, and it does have one feather in its cap worth bragging about: It is the first non-sequel to top the box office since Wrath of Man in early May. If anything, this tells us that Shyamalan’s name still has pull with audiences.

A name that seems to have less pull is G.I. Joe. Paramount’s Snake Eyes, which has the subtitle “G.I. Joe Origins,” trailed the other films in the series, opening to only $13.4 million compared to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’s $54.7 million opening in 2009 and G.I. Joe: Retaliation’s $40.5 million opening in 2013. To be clear, nobody was expecting Snake Eyes to come close to the previous films, which were larger budget, had bigger name casts, and weren’t released in a shaky pandemic marketplace, but even when adjusting those variables it is hard to put a positive spin on this opening.

Directed by Robert Schwentke, Snake Eyes stars Henry Golding in what is his first lead role in a big budget ($88 million) affair after garnering attention for his low-to-mid budget dramas and comedies, most notably Crazy Rich Asians. Snake Eyes received a B- Cinemascore and 42% on RottenTomatoes, and 13.5% of the domestic gross came from IMAX. It took in $4 million internationally with around 70% of territories yet to open, and like the other big films of recent weeks, it awaits a release date in China.

Black Widow came in third grossing $11.6 million, down 55% from last weekend and surprisingly displacing Space Jam: A New Legacy. It crossed $150 million on Saturday, making it the fastest film to do so since before the pandemic, and it is now at $315 million worldwide. Outside of the U.S., its top market to date has been South Korea with $23.1 million, though the China release is still pending.

Space Jam: A New Legacy was in fourth with $9.6 million, down 69% for a cume of $51.3 million. Despite the big drop, it remains ahead of the original Space Jam which finished its second weekend with a total of $48 million, though it likely won’t keep that lead up. In fifth place was F9, grossing $4.7 million and pushing past the $160 million mark domestically and also $600 million worldwide, the only non-Chinese film to manage that since 2019.

Sixth place was Escape Room: Tournament of Champions with $3.4 million and a cume of $16 million. After two weekends, its overall gross is still behind the original film’s $18.2 million opening. The Boss Baby: Family Business came in seventh place with $2.7 million, putting its total at $50.1 million after four weekends, around $66k behind the original’s opening weekend. The Forever Purge was in eighth place with $2.3 million and a cume of $40.3 million after four weekends, thankfully well ahead of any opening for a Purge film. A Quiet Place Part II came in 9th place in its 9th weekend with $1.3 million, and unlike most films this summer it compares fairly well to its predecessor, with a cume of $158 million domestic and $291 worldwide. The first film finished at $188 domestic and $341 worldwide.

In tenth place was Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, which remains one of the year’s biggest arthouse successes. In its second weekend, the doc from Focus Features and director Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) brought in $830k for a cume of $3.7 million. In 11th place was Roadside Attractions’ new limited release Joe Bell, which stars Mark Wahlberg in a rare indie role. The film grossed $707k from 1,094 screens. Neon’s Nicolas Cage starrer Pig came in 12th with $565k, crossing $2 million in two weekends.