“Free Guy” Holds Strong as Newcomers Disappoint


August 20-22, 2021

(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)


Free Guy  $18.7 million
PAW Patrol  $13 million
Jungle Cruise  $6.3 million
Don't Breathe 2  $5 million
Respect  $3.8 million

Ryan Reynolds remained the top draw at the box office, as Free Guy had the strongest hold of the summer thus far. Slipping only 33.8 percent, the video game action/comedy earned an impressive $18.7 million in its second weekend. Despite competition from several movies – including an adaptation of one of the most popular TV shows in the world and a new horror flick – it dominated.

PAW Patrol: The Movie took second place, and put the argument about whether simultaneous streaming hurts a film's box office back into a gray area. The preschool-aimed film earned an estimated $13 million, even as it was streaming for free to subscribers of Paramount+. With many school districts around the country starting their classes earlier than usual, that's a mighty strong showing from the small pups.

Jungle Cruise stayed at third, and it looks like it will be just the fourth film released this year to pass $100 million. Don't Breathe 2 dropped to fourth place, while Respect rounded out the top 5. It's not hard to think they're cumulative grosses so far would have been their debuts pre-pandemic.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: The Lost Leonardo repeated, adding eight more screens but seeing its average cut by more than half.
  • None of the other major releases this week topped $3 million. Revenge thriller The Protege did the best with $2.9 million. Horror flick The Night House was close behind with $2.8 million. But Reminiscence, the sci-fi neo-noir with Hugh Jackman,  fell flat with only $2 million.
  • Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Neill Blomkamp, who directed District 9 to a Best Picture nomination and international box  office success has had diminishing returns ever since. Demonic, a low-budget horror freakout that marks his first feature in six years, earned a weak $36,500 on 85 screens, losing out to the sixth weekend of Roadrunner.

Next week:

The only new wide release is the long-delayed Candyman reboot with Yahya-Abdul Mateen II. It should easily take the top spot with $18 million.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.