How Paramount Resurrected Moviegoing With ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ $57M Opening; ‘Cruella’ Dazzles With $27M

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Monday AM writethru: Any major studio executive who is out to prove that the theatrical business doesn’t work can rip up that presentation they had planned for next week about projected streaming revenues.

Because this weekend, the domestic box office finally came back, and no, it wasn’t with Tenet or a No. 1 movie that’s being released on streaming day-and-date with theatrical.

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Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II is crushing it, having grossed $19.3M on Friday, including $4.8M Thursday night previews. Saturday eased 22% to $15M. The studio’s Sunday came in lighter than expected, but no big deal, as the numbers this past weekend were fantastic. A Quiet Place Part II grossed $13M yesterday, for a revised 3-day that is now at $47.4M and a $57M 4-day opening at 3,726 theaters for a $15,7K theater average. That’s a number which isn’t too far from the $60M which the John Krasinski-directed sequel was anticipated to do in its 3-day opening pre-pandemic!

Exclaimed Paramount domestic distribution boss Chris Aronson about the comeback of moviegoing, “How many times in their lifetime have movie theaters been threatened? People weren’t going to be locked up in their homes forever and this weekend was the most our country has been open in a quite some time. There’s a pent-up demand for many to resume their normal summer activities including baseball games, barbecues, going to the beach and vacationing. Moviegoing is a part of that fabric. We had a movie that is quintessential in being a communal experience in a theater and audiences responded.”

A Quiet Place Part II‘s money is being earned on a pure, unadulterated 45-day theatrical window. The sequel will hit Paramount+ after that time frame. It is currently not available on PVOD in Canada, where big provinces like Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba have theaters closed down; the country currently repping around 1%-2% of the B.O. to its pre-pandemic of 7%-10%.

Exorcist filmmaker William Friedkin and Krasinski’s excitement over cinema’s return this past weekend:

Imax delivered $4.1M Stateside for A Quiet Place Part II or 8.6% of the domestic gross, making it the highest Imax opening weekend since January 2020.

A Quiet Place Part II is the first domestic release this year to cross the threshold from ‘great opening weekend given the pandemic’ to ‘great opening weekend, period’ — offering undeniable proof that the domestic box office is back” beamed Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX in a statement. “The film’s stellar results give the box office a strong jolt of momentum heading into the summer, and the many blockbusters that held out for an exclusive theatrical release stand to benefit.”

Disney’s Cruella posted $7.2M on Saturday, -6% from Friday’s $7.7M, including Thursday previews. Disney is calling the weekend at $21.3M with the four day at $26.5M at 3,892 theaters, for a $6,8K per theater. That’s not a bad number. However, rivals have sniped about how low Friday was in the face of A Quiet Place Part II, that the movie with its experimental distribution window should have gone last weekend. That said, Disney has traditionally programmed the Memorial Day weekend. Like Godzilla vs. Kong, what Cruella indicates is that if it wasn’t on Disney+ Premier at $29.99, it could have made more money, at least here in the US. The good news for domestic exhibitors is that audiences are choosing to watch the movie in theaters. In all fairness to Disney, they did lean into a marketing campaign, especially with their fashion promo partners, which was intended to spur theatrical moviegoing traffic.

Disney’s Global Theatrical Distribution Head Tony Chambers was over the moon about both movies’ success in the states, “This weekend repped for many their first experience going back to the theater and seeing the security measures in place. Audiences got to watch the trailers for the upcoming summer blockbuster movies this summer. It will invite them to come back and do it all over again.”

Disney did not report any figures or make anecdotal statements about the Disney+ Premier performance of Cruella.

In CinemaScore exits, A Quiet Place Part II received an A- (an improvement on the first film’s B+), while Cruella notched a solid A, in line with previous Disney live-action spinoffs of animated fare, i.e. Maleficient 1 & 2 (both A’s) and even better than some, such as Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass (A-s). On PostTrak, A Quiet Place Part II notched an 83% positive score with a very good 63% definite recommend, while Cruella earned a general audience score of 84% positive and 63% definite recommend. Those under 12 were also high on Cruella, with 84% in the top two boxes and a 68% definite recommend.

Equally mind-blowing is that over 4-days, the box office stands to gross as much as $100M domestic. Comscore reported yesterday that the 3-day weekend brought in $80M. The last time the Friday-Sunday B.O. grossed over $100M was the weekend before we shut down during the pandemic, March 6-8 last year, and prior to that, the last time it did $80.7M over three days was Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2020. For the Jan. 1-May 30 period, the 2021 box office totals $661.5M, -64% behind the same frame in 2020 which had grossed $1.8 billion.

True, before Covid, we were used to seeing bigger box office numbers over Memorial Day weekend: The 4-day holiday grossed $232M in 2019, while 2013 hit a record in $314.3M according to Comscore. However, this weekend was a great achievement for the motion picture industry, given how only 72% of all 5,88K US and Canadian theaters are in operation. There were about 200 independent theaters who are on the fence about reopening; perhaps this weekend will come as an encouraging sign.

Yeah, yeah, we low-balled on estimates. But truly, with capacities in place across the country, and big parts of Canada closed, you never know what you’re going to get at the box office. Pre-sales heading into the weekend for Cruella weren’t as vibrant as A Quiet Place Part II‘s.

More great under-the-hood stats on A Quiet Place Part II: Imax and PLF repped well over 20% of Friday’s box office for the Emily Blunt sequel. Updated exits from Paramount on the sequel show 52% female, 52% under 25, 48% over 25, and 88% of the audience between 17-44. The audience was very diverse and more so than the first Quiet Place at 56% non-Caucasian vs 47% previously. Diversity breakdown was 44% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 16% African American, 9% Asian, 3% other. Top theaters were in Burbank, NYC, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Paramus and Baltimore. I hear the movie played strong coast to coast with Utah overindexing as A Quiet Place Part II actress Millicent Simmonds is from there.

Cruella drew 61% female, 43% under 25 years old with 43% between 18-34 years old. Diversity demos were 51% Caucasian, 26% Hispanic, 12% Black, & 11% Asian/other. Disney reports 70% general audiences saw Cruella, 17% kids and 13% parents.

Added Aronson about the rest of the domestic B.O. season, “There’s a massive line of high profile films that haven’t opened yet. The prospect of the summer box office is looking good.”

The Movie Which Would Always Bring ‘Em Back

During the pandemic, those in distribution always said that A Quiet Place Part II was the one title which could feasibly bring audiences back. The title already had a substantially high profile before the pandemic, given all of its marketing, including a trailer during the 2020 Super Bowl. Black Widow, No Time to Die, and F9 are also in this camp of titles which have had long runways of exposure before their theatrical release.

Given A Quiet Place Part II‘s marketing edge, Paramount relaunched the campaign on May 5 over a compressed 3.5 week time frame, the first item being the trailer ‘tomorrow’ video built around the copy “It’s been quiet for far too long,” and leaning in on the film’s “only in theatres” proposition. Since the original 2020 release date had seen significant pre-sales refunded due to the shutdown, Krasinski recorded a video thanking those fans and announcing an exclusive 24-hour presale for the new date. The final trailer for the movie launched the next day on May 6.

The campaign targeted multicultural moviegoers, who have driven large portions of the box office recovery so far, and in key theatrical recovery zip codes. TV spots ran during highly rated shows such as SNL, hosted by Elon Musk and Anya Taylor Joy, finales of The Masked Singer, American Idol, and The Voice, as well as Fear the Walking Dead, NBA games, and US Hispanic networks. Custom digital media programs included IGN, IMDB, ESPN, and Twitch, producing high-impact takeovers & roadblocks for the film.

Paramount also tapped into the ViacomCBS portfolio with on-air and digital support across CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Network, VH1, Nick@Nite/TeenNick, Logo, Smithsonian, TV Land, across the Pluto service, and audio spots on ViacomCBS podcast properties.

Talent appearances rallied around the film’s return to theaters, many of which were encore appearances following the shutdown. CBS This Mornings Gayle King interviewed Krasinski in an Alamo Drafthouse. Stephen Colbert hosted Krasinski as his first in-person guest since the pandemic began, and they had a fun conversation over a glass of bourbon, remembering the last time he visited the show just before the original release date. Additionally, Krasinski appeared on James Corden and Seth Meyers, Kelly Clarkson, Ryan Seacrest, and Jimmy Kimmel. Blunt appeared on Howard Stern, Kelly Clarkson, James Corden, and Jimmy Kimmel, where Jimmy declared this was the rare movie that needed to be seen in a theater.

The studio teamed with exhibition to reach moviegoers directly via texting, digital advertising, e-blasts, mobile push notifications; the total reach counted over 24 million loyalty and VIP members.

Krasinksi was one of the first notable film personalities ever to participate in a Twitter Spaces chat and a Tik Tok LIVE. Over 100 social media influencers posted custom content and attended screenings to support the film. This repped the largest influencer campaign for Paramount to date. Additionally, athletes such as Tony Hawk, Jalen Ramsey, Caron Butler, JaVale McGee, Ricky Carmichael, and many others hosted special in-theater screenings posting on social media to support the film.

RelishMix reports that A Quiet Place Part II had a social media universe reach of 173.3M before the weekend, “well above horror genre norms, and in comparison to A Quiet Place, which had a SMU of 103.2M.” Added to this number is the new Paramount+ social network and trailers and materials that have been in rotation for 17 months; the sequel’s materials dropped on Jan. 1, 2020 with the first trailer at 30.1M views.

Overall, the social media universe for the franchise has grown 2.6x since 2018. Krasinski has, natch, been pushing the sequel to his near 10M social media followers, and he’s been flying around the country on a 10-day, 6 market promotional tour, doing in-theatre appearances in NYC, Cleveland, Houston, Austin, Miami, and more. The tour included a live Q&A opening night event on Thursday in LA hosted by JJ Abrams and simulcast to over 500 theatres nationwide, and wrapped in Austin, TX Friday night, the site of the first movie’s breakout premiere at 2018’s SXSW festival for a full-circle moment.

A Quiet Place Part II installation took over the Dolby Soho space in NYC. Press, social influencers, and the public could view iconic scenes and costumes from the film and explore themed environments. The installation was a success and generated over 450K impressions across the sequel and Paramount’s social media channels.

A Quiet Place Part II survival room and VR experience was also built at Dolby Soho. The survival room was a multi-sensory experience with an intense 5-7-minute progression filled with physical and mental obstacles. This immersive, in-world recreation of the sequel tasked guests with keeping their decibel levels down and mitigating any sound in their surroundings at all costs. Separately, the VR encounter was designed specifically for the film, placing the participant within a scene where monsters may be lurking just behind them. Over 1,3K people participated in the survival room and virtual reality during the New York run of engagement.

Reports RelishMix on the A Quiet Place Part II chatter on social: “Convo swings mixed from hot enthusiasm for the sequel and long anticipation of a big screen horror event, to questions about where and when it will stream on Paramount+ or other VOD platforms windows. A Quiet Place as a franchise is a breakthrough for the horror genre, as fans discuss how they never see horror in theaters (too scared). But this film became one of a fav movies, starring Emily Blunt.”

Branded A Quiet Place Part II face masks were supplied for the field to pass out at screenings. Copies of the book, A Quiet Place: Making of a Silent World were also distributed to various press and influencers, as well as, at screenings.

As far as Cruella‘s wattage on social, RelishMix says that the Emma Stone movie “is benefiting from the recently extended Disney SMU Social Media Universe and day/date promotions, with an overall social media universe of 446.7M, which is 25% over the norm and includes Disney+ at 95.2M — noting that without the Disney+ lift, SMU stats are on par for the genre.”

Ahead of release on social, Cruella tracked strong next to comp Beauty And The Beast, which had an exceptional 934M SMU and $174.7M opening weekend B.O., and Mary Poppins Returns, which was below the norm at 229M social media universe and opened at $23.5M 3-day and $49.9M over the 7-day Christmas 2018 stretch.

RelishMix says that the hottest touch point is the official Cruella de Vil Facebook page, with 830K fans and adding 1K new fans per day. The FB page was launched 11 years ago in 2010, as an early Disney social character page, long after the pre-social media live-action 101 Dalmatians in 1996. The page is now fully loaded to promote Cruella with FB views for the 26 videos posted for this campaign at a strong 158.1M. The best video has 20.2M views. In addition there’s another 92.1M views on YouTube for Cruella with an exceptional viral rate of 26.1 for 17 official trailers and spots. Stone and fellow star Emma Thompson are off the social media grid.

In regards to the buzz pre-weekend, RelishMix says, “Chatter spins on the Cruella character’s qualities and the outrageous peril of puppies, as well as cranky mentions about the $30 added fee within Disney+. Fans are buzzing about the soundtrack, stacked with mega-classics including ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ by Connie Francis, ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra, ‘Blood Well Right’ by Supertramp and many more, selected by music supervisor Susan Jacobs.”

Weekend top 10:

1.) A Quiet Place Part II (Par) 3,726 theaters Fri $19.3M/Sat $15M/Sun $13M/3-day $47.4M /4-day: $57M/Wk 1

2.) Cruella (Dis) 3,892 Fri $7.7M/Sat $7.2M/Sun $6.4M/3-day $21.3M/4-day: $26.5M/ Wk 1

3.) Spiral (LG) 2,641 theaters (-350) Fri $635K/Sat $830K/Sun $810K/3-day $2.275M (-55%)/4-day: $2.9M/Total: $20.4M/ Wk 3

4.) Wrath of Man (UAR) 2,607 theaters (-400) /Fri $533K/Sat $819K/Sun $781K/3-day $2.1M (-28%)/4-day: $2.75M/Total: $22.76M Wk 4

5.) Raya and the Last Dragon (Dis) 2,015 theaters (-360), Fri $495K/Sat $800K/Sun $700k/ 3-day: $2M (+20%), 4-day: $2.57M/ Total: $51.4M/Wk 13

6.) Demon Slayer (Fun/Ani) 1,145 theaters (-755)/Fri $221K/Sat $321K/Sun $322K/3-day $864K (-44%)/4-day: $1.1M/Total: $46.8M/Wk 6

7.) Godzilla vs. Kong (WB/Leg) 1,815 theaters (-737),/3-day: $885K (-37%)/4-day: $1.06M/Total: $98.3M/Wk 9

8.) Dream Horse (BST) 1,284 theaters (+30), Fri $155,9K/Sat $255,1K/Sun $241,3K/3-day: $652,3K (-18%)/4-day: $817,3K/Total: $1.9M/ Wk 2

9.) Those Who Wish Me Dead (WB) 1,805 theaters (-1574)/3-day $590K (-69%)/4-day: $720K/ Total: $6.9M/Wk 3

10.) World War Z (Par, re) 80 theaters Fri $88K/Sat $133K/Sun $126K/3-day: $347K /4-day $448K/Total: $202.8M/Wk 415

Friday AM: After being delayed 15 months by the pandemic, Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II, directed by John Krasinski, finally hit the screen last night, making $4.8M. That’s an amazing start: The original A Quiet Place had Thursday night previews of $4.3M back in April 2018.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Cruella, which is also available on Disney+ Premier for $29.99, grossed $1.4M last night.

A Quiet Place Part II, which reteams Krasinski with his wife, Emily Blunt, is booked at 3,700 theaters and also playing in Imax, Dolby and PLF. Previews began at 5 p.m. Thursday. Paramount is hoping for a 4-day that’s north of $30M. Cruella is playing at 3,892 sites and is expected to do around $17M, though rival studios are seeing a much higher figure.

Paramount arguably is the first studio to begin reporting Thursday night preview figures. Many have shied away from doing so, even as exhibition has returned, given the fact that numbers haven’t been so robust. However, this weekend marks the start of summer with a consistent supply of product. A Quiet Place Part II‘s top theaters came from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New York, Phoenix, El Paso, Austin, Pharr (Texas), Albuquerque, Fresno (California) and Dallas.

As for the biggest opening day since late-March 2020, when the pandemic began in earnest, that belongs to the Warner Bros./HBO Max release of Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong, which grossed $9.6M at 2,409 theaters or $3,980 per location. That monster movie went on to post a 3-day of $31.6M and a 5-day of $48.1M, and it’s the best start we’ve seen during Covid. New Line/HBO Max’s Mortal Kombat ranks as the second-best opening day and weekend during the pandemic with with $9M and $23.3M, respectively.

We’ll have more updates for you as they come.

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