“Free Guy” Levels Up to the Top of the Box Office


August 13-15, 2021

(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)


Free Guy $28.4 million
Don't Breathe 2  $10.6 million
Jungle Cruise $9 million
Respect  $8.8 million
The Suicide Squad  $7.7 million

In the past week, I saw plenty of jokes from people on social media who said they were excited for Free Guy, but only so they didn't have to see any more trailers or ads for it. Well, it looks like that surge of marketing worked. The Ryan Reynolds comedy took the top spot with an estimated $28.4 million. After more than a year of delays, it's paid off. We're not in Deadpool territory obviously, but it's a better-than-expected showing for a movie not based on any IP.

Don't Breathe was one of the biggest critical and commercial surprises of 2016. The nasty little horror movie from Fede Alvarez made more than $150 million on a budget of less than $10 million. It was full of horrifying twists and turns, but it certainly didn't cry out for a sequel. Still, it did well enough despite more mixed reviews, forcing Jungle Cruise to drop to third place.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect earned a, well, respectable $8.8 million. It won't be as big as the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody, but it's almost guaranteed an Oscar nomination for Jennifer Hudson's performance. The Suicide Squad dropped to fifth, which is both surprising and not great news for Warner Bros. The studio has struggled for the past several years to get any of its non-superhero movies to break out. But between this and Birds of Prey, even their superhero movies aren't doing so hot, at least compared to its past DCEU entries. I'm not ready to declare that audiences have comic book movie fatigue, especially since we're still in the midst of the pandemic. But if the trend continues with Shang-Chi and Eternals, maybe studios will stop putting all their eggs in that basket.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: The Lost Leonardo, a documentary about the Salvatore Mundi, a painting by da Vinci that sold at auction for $450 million, but has since gone missing. It averaged $4,403 on three screens.
  • Roadrunner – about the late chef, writer and travel host Anthony Bourdain – has become the documentary hit of the summer. After five weeks in theaters, it's topped $5 million, which would be good even in unprecedented times.
  • Even with its Disney+ Premier Access eating into its box office, Cruella has topped out at $85 million. Disney's said that's good enough for a sequel, with Emma Stone signing on earlier this week.

Next week:

The Protégé, The Night House and Reminiscence all vie for the top spot, but it seems unlikely any will unseat Free Guy. I predict it will repeat with about $12 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.