‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Steals Ball Away From ‘Black Widow’ With $31M+ Opening, Best For Family Pic & WB During Pandemic

·19 min read

Sunday AM Update: Even with Space Jam: A New Legacy in homes on HBO Max, Warner Bros. proves again that when they shell out on TV spots, they can open the film in movie theaters to a solid number. In this case, it was the best 3-day we’ve seen for a family film during the pandemic, with $31.65M. That’s also the best for Warner Bros. during the Covid-19 era, beating Godzilla vs. Kong‘s big Easter opening of $31.625M by a smidge, and also a record career opening for director Malcolm D. Lee, beating the opening weekend of his Girls Trip by $31.2M.

“It’s the family movie of the summer, and it’s exciting to see audiences come back in big numbers,” said Warner Bros. domestic theatrical distribution chief Jeff Goldstein, who praised the big marketing push by the studio for the Looney Tunes NBA sequel, which included everything from bus wraps, loud social media drumming from star and producer LeBron James, and the pic’s mobile game Looney Tunes World of Mayhem, which has a week’s theme devoted to the sequel.

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iSpot shows that Warner Bros spent $15.2M in TV spots on the Looney Tunes live-action animation hybrid movie (since April 3, yielding 993.6M impressions), which is more than what other studios have been spending on family pics during Covid-19, i.e. Sony with Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway ($8.7M), and Universal with The Boss Baby: Family Business ($13.4M). Warner’s spend here on Space Jam 2 is also less than the $22.5M they forked over for TV ads on In the Heights.

The question is whether and when Warner Bros. can get this movie to cross $100M, given the whole HBO Max factor (the movie plays free to subscribers during its first 28 days, then its second month is strictly in theaters). In a regular pre-pandemic marketplace, without any dynamic windowing strategies, this wouldn’t be a question. It took Warner Bros. 12 weekends to get Godzilla vs. Kong ($31.625M 3-day) past the century mark stateside.

<img class="wp-image-1234795321 " src="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png&quot; alt="" width="207" height="340" srcset="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png 176w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png?resize=91,150 91w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png?resize=37,60 37w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png?resize=137,225 137w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png?resize=100,165 100w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/dj-space-jam-2.png?resize=146,240 146w" sizes="(max-width: 207px) 100vw, 207px" />

Warners, according to iSpot, bought ads for Space Jam 2 across Nick, ABC, NBC, TNT and Cartoon Network on such shows as SpongeBob SquarePants, NBA basketball, College basketball, America’s Got Talent, and The Loud House.

Social media was huge here for Space Jam 2, with RelishMix reporting that the sequel’s reach across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram was 601.2M, “well above the family animated norms,” thanks to the social power of James (166.2M) and Zendaya (138M) in the mix.

“The quadrangulation of Looney Tunes social network (19.1M) along with HBO Max (growing to 3.3M), Warner Bros. Pictures (56.7M) and the channels for the Space Jam movie (868K) are driving strong activity on international materials — dropping materials across WB YouTube channels to Italy, Spain and the Latin channels. Instagram is most notable at 38% in terms of social platform segment at 234.1M fans for the cast. Key soundtrack artists added to the SMU and activating with song posts, including John Legend (43.7M) on the red carpet at the premiere, plus The Jonas Brothers (25.5M) and Joyner Lucas (7.1M),” reports RelishMix.

James has been posting about the film heavily, and even Dwayne Johnson did so to his 58.8M Facebook fans about a song by his wife Lauren Hashian that’s in the film (James thanked him as well for the shoutout).

Reports RelishMix about the pre-buzz for Space Jam 2: “Conversation ran wildly mixed with throwbacks to the original, crunchy comparisons of LeBron vs Michael Jordan, with hopes that MJ makes a cameo — and dreams of Space Jam 3 based on Kobe or Steph Curry. With a rowdy hoops crowd, fans were expectedly skeptical about the remake, but noting that the target to families and kids — comments on many of the YouTube videos are turned off — while many fans can’t wait to post their reactions on eared materials after they see the film on the day/date big and little screen.”

<img class="size-dl-article-body wp-image-1234795290" src="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-3-1.jpg?w=296&h=166&crop=1&quot; alt=" - Credit: Disney" width="296" height="166" />Disney

Yes, yes, similar to Black Widow, even with this result for Space Jam 2, money was left on the table, box office-wise. This weekend, the Scarlett Johansson standalone MCU origin title dropped -67%, with $26.25M, which reps the steepest second weekend drop for a Disney MCU movie after Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s -62%. So if you’re wondering how Disney+ Premier impacts a Marvel title’s box office, here’s further proof. Note among all Marvel movies, 2003’s The Hulk, which Kevin Feige executive produced for Universal, reps the steepest second weekend domestic drop at -70% for the comic book label’s movies. The 10-day box office for Black Widow stands at $132M.

Note, you cannot comp Black Widow’s second weekend drop here to F9‘s -67% because the latter’s second Sunday fell on July 4th, which is always a down day for moviegoing. Monday July 5th for F9, which was also a recognized holiday stateside, saw that pic’s business pop +15% over Sunday. F9 was released with a theatrical window.

Disney did not report any second weekend updates about Black Widow‘s results on Disney+ Premier. How’s that for transparency?

Warner Bros. has eased the town and exhibition’s fears that they’re only practicing this theatrical-HBO Max-day and date strategy for this year because of the pandemic; that their 2022 and beyond slate will be purely theatrical next year. And at the end of the day, it’s this pandemic (and the continued news of Delta variants and re-masking of L.A. doesn’t help) which continues to give studios like Disney the license to burn down the film distribution model to keep warm. They can trumpet how they made money between a pic’s opening weekend box office and the Disney+ premier PVOD cash. But in addition to shrinking the pie, I hope that Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution Chairman Kareem Daniel also realize that they’re losing more than just long-term box office dollars and solid ancillary windows on these-day-and-date releases: Piracy is stealing more money from them faster than they realize, as many sources in the know tell me. And that diminishing of dollars at the box office and windows will hit every downstream business units at Disney quite hard. Wall Street needs to stop sniffing the streaming glue, wake up and realize this recipe for financial disaster.

Wake up, Disney: piracy sites are offering &#x002018;Black Widow&#x002019; for free. - Credit: Disney
Wake up, Disney: piracy sites are offering ‘Black Widow’ for free. - Credit: Disney


Fact: Black Widow was the most-pirated movie last week on Torrent Freak, ahead of The Tomorrow War in the No. 2 spot. Many of these piracy sites dress themselves up with images from the film to make it look like they’re legit. The studios go to great lengths while editing their films to encrypt movies and watermark them so they can trace where a pirated copy comes from (whether or not it leaks from inside the studio).

All of those safeguards are blown away in this day-and-date theatrical-streaming era. One industry analytics source informed me that in one study they did for a studio, it showed that these piracy sites were the No. 1 platform for those at home to watch movies, not Disney+ or any other streaming platform. By Disney executing this Disney+ Premier strategy from day one (and Warner’s with their 2021 slate), they’re essentially making pristine free copies available.

By the way, I need to correct myself: Disney doesn’t get 100% of their Disney+ Premier revenue many sources have informed me in the wake of last weekend’s report. On a PVOD release, they have to share ~15% of the revenues with platform providers such as Amazon Firestick, AppleTV+, etc.

So that $60M global PVOD huzzah last weekend is really around an estimated net $51M back to Disney. While it’s better than the 60%/40% rental terms with exhibition, once again, Disney is decimating an ancillary window faster and bound to walk away with less money in the end than they typically would on a regular theatrical release.

The Napster millennials have grown up, Disney, and they’re familiar with getting their goods for free. Is this really a road you want to continue on with future theatrical films? Less box office glow and more piracy results in eroding your brands in the future. Giving into to consumers’ flexible-viewing habits is truly financial foolishness.


&#x002018;Escape Room: Tournament of Champions&#x002019; - Credit: Sony
‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ - Credit: Sony


Sony is reporting $8.8M for their PG-13 horror sequel Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which is a pure theatrical release at 2,815 theaters. We’re still waiting on Sony to truly spend on marketing to open their movies, this one iSpot noticed a $4.5M TV spend which produced 415.5M impressions. The first Escape Room opened to $18.2M. Let’s hope we see big results from the Culver City studio when they open Venom: Let There Be Carnage on Sept. 24 and MCU’s Spider-Man: No Way Home on Dec. 17 which rumor has it that Disney+’s Wandavision and possibly Loki tie into.

iSpot shows that Sony bought ads on ESPN, Telemundo, FX, and Adult Swim for the Adam Robitel-directed sequel, as well as on shows such as NBA basketball, SportsCenter, Family Guy, Mom, and Martin.

Escape Room 2, per RelishMix, had a social media universe of 39.8M across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, which is well under horror awareness levels per the analytics corp.

“Conversation ran mixed-positive among horror fans who mulled storyline thoughts about the subway with many who love it and ‘puzzle masters’ who are dissecting the trailer,” said RelishMix about the low wattage pre-buzz from the pic.

One highlight of the sequel’s marketing push: the studio reconstructed the pic’s subway escape room in Hollywood:

Focus Features’ Morgan Neville’s documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain rang up $1.9M in 8th place at 925 theaters from 189 DMAs, repping the top opening for a specialty movie and top opening for a docu this year. The pic out-grossed the weekend debuts of Roadside Attractions’ The Courier (opened at $1.885M) and Zola (opened at $1.2mil) and grossed more than three times what Questlove’s Summer of Soul made in its opening weekend of $650k. Roadrunner is also the top opening of Oscar winner Neville’s career.

NEON’s Nicolas Cage thriller Pig slotted 10th with $945K at 552 locations for a $1,7K theater average. The pic’s top ten theaters I’m told out of its top 20 came from arthouses, which is a promising sign that the sector is on the rebound after weathering the pandemic. Top cities were NY, LA, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland.

The weekend’s top 10 movies by studio-reported gross:

  1. Space Jam: A New Legacy (WB) 3,965 theaters Fri $13.2M/Sat $10.5M/Sun $7.9M/Sun 3-day: $31.65M/Wk 1

  2. Black Widow (Dis) 4,275 theaters (+115)/Fri $8M /Sat $10.3M/Sun $7.2M/3-day $26.25M (-67%)/Total $132M/Wk 2

  3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony) 2,815 theaters Fri $3.8M/Sat $2.8M/Sun $2.15M/3-day $8.8M/Wk 1

  4. F9 (Uni) 3,368 theaters (-281), Fri $2.2M /Sat $3M/Sun $2.4M/3-day $7.6M (-33%)/Total: $154.8M/ Wk 4

  5. Boss Baby: Family Business (Uni) 3,449 theaters (-239), Fri $1.5M /Sat $1.8M/Sun $1.4M/3-day $4.7M (-47%)/total $44.6M/Wk 3

  6. Forever Purge (Uni) 2,735 (-323) theaters Fri $1.3M/Sat $1.6M/Sun $1.27M/3-day $4.16M (-42%)/total $35.9M/Wk 3

  7. A Quiet Place Part II (Par) 1,995 (-364) theaters Fri $700K/Sat 915K/Sun $685K/3-day $2.3M (-27%)/total $$155M/Wk 8

  8. Roadrunner (Foc) 925 theaters Fri $780K/Sat $650K/Sun $470K/3-day $1.9M/Wk 1

  9. Cruella (Dis) 1,175 (-700) theaters Fri $352K/Sat $466K/Sun $294K/3-day $1.1M (-54%)/total $83.4M/Wk 8

  10. Pig (NEON) 552 theaters Fri $377K/Sat $333K/Sun $235K/3-day $945K/Wk 1


Saturday AM Update: Warner Bros.’ long awaited sequel to the 25-year old family classic Space Jam —Space Jam: A New Legacyhad a four point shot at the box office yesterday, with $13.1M at 3,965 theaters, for what will be a $32M opening weekend.

<img class="size-dl-article-body wp-image-1234794994" src="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?w=296&h=166&crop=1&quot; alt=" - Credit: Disney" width="296" height="166" srcset="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=600,338 600w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=660,370 660w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=1280,720 1280w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=1000,563 1000w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=910,511 910w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=681,383 681w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=450,253 450w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=250,140 250w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=380,212 380w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=296,166 296w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=248,139 248w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=200,112 200w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/black-widow-4-1.jpg?resize=270,152 270w" sizes="(max-width: 296px) 100vw, 296px" />Disney

The results squash the second Friday and anticipated weekend of Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow, which did $8M yesterday, one of the worst Friday-to-Friday drops for a recent standalone origin MCU title at -80%, on its way to a $25.6M second weekend, a -68% drop, no thanks to the film’s availability in homes on Disney+ Premier for $29.99. If you think it’s unfair to comp Black Widow to pre-pandemic MCU origin films, well, then, know that her drop is even steeper than the second Fridays of F9 (-72%) and A Quiet Place Part II (-68%). By the end of the weekend, Black Widow will count $131.3M at the domestic B.O.

The total weekend B.O. looks to come in around $93M, off 22% from last weekend’s pandemic weekend high of $118.46M. While a notable take for the pandemic, we’re still behind 65% when compared to weekend 29 of 2019 (which overall grossed $263.8M; that’s when Disney reboot of The Lion King opened). With Canada’s Ontario reopening 70% of its theaters (with capacity restrictions) yesterday, the number of 5,88K domestic cinemas in operation currently resides at 83%.

Space Jam: A New Legacy‘s opening reps the biggest for Warner Bros. during the pandemic, besting Godzilla vs. Kong‘s 3-day of $28.2M and the best opening for a family movie. The pic is also available day-and-date in homes on HBO Max. It also reps the biggest opening for director Malcolm D. Lee outstripping the $31M debut of Girls Trip and also the filmmaker’s third film to open at No. 1. The sequel’s opening easily beats the $27.5M opening of Space Jam, not accounting for inflation, which ended its domestic run at $90.4M.

Space Jam: A New Legacy received an A- CinemaScore, the same grade as the first 1996 movie, and saw a bulk of walk-up business last night, especially from teens, indicative of moviegoing for the first Lego movie, which played beyond its family demo. Huge turnout by African Americans at 36%, Latino 23%, Caucasian 32%, and Asian/other 9% in Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits. Space Jam: A New Legacy overperformed in the East and South, but the West was the most dominant territory. Premium Large Format screens drove 4% of the business, I understand.

Space Jam: A New Legacy star and producer LeBron James tweeted out the news about the pic’s super weekend:

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On CinemaScore exits, those under 18 gave Space Jam: A New Legacy a solid A, while those under 35 gave it an A-, along with the under-25 demo. Males (53%) and females (47%) gave the Lee-directed sequel an A-. PostTrak exits were less brighter than CinemaScore, showing 78% in the top two boxes and 58% recommend, though kids under 12 gave it a 84% positive with a 70% recommend. PostTrak make-up showed 58% guys, 60% under 25 with 48% under 17. Critics aren’t so hot on Space Jam: A New Legacy at 31% Rotten, but that’s not impacting the box office.

Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell)and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) in Columbia Pictures&#x002019; Escape Room 2. - Credit: Sony
Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell)and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) in Columbia Pictures’ Escape Room 2. - Credit: Sony


Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions did $3.8M yesterday, including $1.2M Thursday previews, for a 3-day of $8.66M, which is what Sony was expecting on this $15M horror movie. Escape Room 2 received a B CinemaScore, just like its first installment. PostTrack audience exits were at a low 69% with a 44% recommend. The film had a similar diversity make-up as Space Jam 2, 29% African American, 27% Latino, 32% Caucasian, and 12% Asian/other.

Remember it’s a PG-13 film, and teens were also heading out to see Space Jam 2, which makes one wonder if this particular Sony sequel was losing business to the animated-live-action hybrid title. An even split between males and females, with 53% under 25, 62% between 18-34. Best business was on the coasts and in the south for this Adam Robitel-directed movie. Critics were so-so on the first movie back in 2019 at 51% Rotten, and their opinions in the horror pic haven’t improved at 42% Rotten.

Anthony Bourdain - Credit: Focus Features
Anthony Bourdain - Credit: Focus Features

Focus Features

In a sign that that the arthouse biz is coming back slowly: Focus Features’ documentary about Anthony Bourdain, Roadrunner from director Morgan Neville, did $760K yesterday (estimated $250K from Thursday previews) on its way to a $1.66M debut in 8th place at 927 theaters for a $1,791 per theater average in 189 markets.

Pic is 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 21-day window. Great PostTrak exits here at 94% positive and a 61% recommend. Pic played best on the coasts, with four of its top ten runs coming out of NYC. Females shows up at 52%, with 91% over 25 and 53% between 25-44. Diversity breakdown was 66% Caucasian, 19% Latino, 3% African American and 12% Asian/other.

<img class="size-dl-article-body wp-image-1234795009" src="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?w=296&h=166&crop=1&quot; alt=" - Credit: NEON" width="296" height="166" srcset="https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=600,338 600w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=660,370 660w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=1280,720 1280w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=1000,563 1000w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=910,511 910w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=681,383 681w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=450,253 450w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=250,140 250w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=380,212 380w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=296,166 296w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=248,139 248w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=200,112 200w, https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/pig.jpg?resize=270,152 270w" sizes="(max-width: 296px) 100vw, 296px" />NEON

NEON’s truffle hunter-bent-on-revenge feature Pig, starring Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff, posted an estimated $372K yesterday, on its way to a $1M 3-day in the top 10 from 550 theaters for a $1,818 per theater average. Pic is on a traditional 42-day window, and I hear it posted good results in NY, LA, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland Oregon.

Weekend’s top 5:

  1. Space Jam: A New Legacy (WB) 3,965 theaters Fri $13.1M/3-day: $32M/Wk 1

  2. Black Widow (Dis) 4,275 theaters (+115)/Fri $8M (-80%)/3-day $25.6M (-68%)/Total $131.3M/Wk 2

  3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony) 2,815 theaters Fri $3.8M/3-day $8.66M/Wk 1

  4. F9 (Uni) 3,368 theaters (-281), Fri $2.18M (-38% from prev Friday)/3-day $6.7M (-41%)/Total: $153.9M/ Wk 4

  5. Boss Baby: Family Business (Uni) 3,449 theaters (-239), Fri $1.47M (-50%)/3-day $4.4M (-50%)/total $44.3M/Wk 3

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