Rolling out exclusively in theaters, Candyman was touted to gross somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million. But as the weekend went on, it quickly became clear that the R-rated chiller would roar past those initial predictions. When all was said and done, the film’s haul of slightly more than $22.3 million nearly matched its $25 million production budget, putting instant profitability in its sights. Co-written by Jordan Peele, directed by Nia DaCosta (who is helming the upcoming Captain Marvel), and starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (who made a splash in Aquaman as Black Manta), Candyman was well-received by critics and earned a ‘B’ grade from CinemaScore.
Unspooling in 3,569 theaters in North America, Candyman had a $6,267 per-screen average and tacked on a less dazzling $5.2 million from 51 overseas markets, bringing its first-week global haul to $27.6 million. The racially-themed film, which centers around a bogeyman who returns to a now-gentrifying Chicago neighborhood where he first unleashed his hook-handed wrath, played well with Black audiences (who comprised 37% of first-week ticket buyers) and the 18-34 demo, who made up 69% of its audience. The original Candyman, which was released nearly three decades ago, only made $25.8 million in its initial run in theaters. But, over time, it snowballed into a cult classic, spawning two less-memorable sequels. The new chapter, though, should continue to play well in the weeks to come since it is not currently available on any streaming platform like so many other recent splashy titles.
In the runner-up spot this weekend was Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy. The irreverent action comedy from 20th Century Studios and Disney pulled in just over $13.5 million in its third week in multiplexes. Like Candyman, it is also a theatrical-only title, which may help explain its impressively modest -26.7% drop off from the previous frame. The PG-13-rated film, which costars Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and tells the story of a background character in a videogame racing to save his virtual universe before its real-world developers shut it down, earned a $3,440 per-screen average in 3,940 theaters, bringing its three-week domestic total to $79.3 million. So far, the movie has added another $100.3 million from overseas, putting its current worldwide cume at $179.6 million.
In third was Paramount’s tyke-targeted ‘toon, PAW Patrol: The Movie. The G-rated spin-off of the hit Nickelodeon kids’ show about a posse of pups who come to the aid of the accident-prone residents of Adventure City, puts its claws into $6.6 million in its sophomore weekend. PAW Patrol slid -49.6% from the previous weekend, managing a $2,077 per-screen average at 3,189 locations. To date, the pups have racked up $24.1 million in North America and have dug up an additional $37.8 million from overseas, putting the film’s worldwide take at $61.9 million.
In fourth was Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which added $5 million in its fifth weekend. The PG-13-rated white-water adventure starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt slipped -20.9% from the prior session, earning a $1,489 per-screen average in 3,370 theaters. Those fifth-week numbers pushed the movie’s domestic box-office total past the $100 million milestone with $100.1 million—it is just the fifth film of the COVID-era to accomplish that feat. Jungle Cruise’s $86.9 million in international receipts goosed its worldwide tally to $187 million. The film was released day-and-date on the Disney Plus platform for a $30 surcharge.
Rounding out the top five was Screen Gems’ horror sequel, Don't Breathe 2. The R-rated follow-up to the highly profitable 2016 invasion thriller (which then, as now, stars Stephen Lang) pulled in $2.8 million in its third weekend, falling -43.9% from the previous weekend. The fright-flick earned a $1,048 per-screen average in 2,703 theaters and its three-week domestic tally now sits at just a hair under $24.6 million. Overseas, Don’t Breathe 2 has added $10.7 million, bringing its cumulative global box-office tally to roughly $35.3 million.
Finally, with the extended Labor Day weekend fast approaching, the box-office sweepstakes should prove to be an exciting spectator sport in the days to come. While Candyman should hold on well thanks to its theatrical exclusivity, the frame’s real fireworks will come from Disney’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is the sole Marvel tentpole to be released only in theaters since the pandemic began. So grab your bucket of popcorn and fasten your seatbelt, the numbers should be big.