‘In The Heights’ & ‘Peter Rabbit 2’ Lower Than Expected In Openings As Pandemic Summer Box Office Eases

SATURDAY UPDATE: Refresh for updates While it appeared that the summer box office was dusting itself off from the pandemic over the last two weeks, both newcomers Warner Bros. highly anticipated Jon M. Chu directed Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights and Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway are currently filing less than spectacular results respectively with a No. 1 rank of $5M Friday, $13M 3-day and No. 4 place of $4M Friday, and $10.2M 30-day.

Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part IIas we told you, crossed $100M yesterday after a third Friday of $3.75M, -40%, on its way to a $12.5M 3-day (-35%) weekend in second at 3,515 (-229). Don’t be surprised if the sequel reclaims the No. 1 spot this weekend, beating In the Heights, with a running total of $109.8M.

If there’s anything positive to say about the marketplace, the top four films are each grossing over $10M at the weekend box office which should in all total an estimated $60M, off 11% from last weekend. New Line’s second weekend of Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It did $3.6M yesterday (-63%), on its way to an $11.3M (-53%) weekend in third place at 3,237 (+135) for a $45M running total by tomorrow.

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Now, why all of this? Several reasons, but chiefly, distribution analysts are having a hard time reading tracking and projections in a marketplace where 5,88K theaters are 75% open and capacity restrictions (average 50%) are still in effect. Oh, let’s not forget the whole simultaneous theatrical-HBO Max day-and-date of it all for In the Heights. No one knows precisely how much the streaming service is siphoning away from movie ticket sales.

Interestingly enough, one of the first projections I heard for In the Heights, looked to be the most correct which was $10M to mid teens at 3,456 theaters. However, other box office sources, as the week went on, had the movie doing over $20M+, and that might have been on account of the estimated $20M Warners added to their P&A toward the end of their marketing blitz for this feature musical which is a celebration of diversity. The studio really put its heart in marketing this movie. Don’t forget they closed a $50M deal for the movie rights after a bidding war took place for the IP around town, with studios’ marketing departments pitching the filmmakers and dressing their backlots up like scenes from the Tony-winning Broadway show. In the Heights’ rights were extracted ahead of the Weinstein Co’s bankruptcy in May 2018. Before that, Universal almost made it, but found it to be too expensive at $37M back in 2011 with Miranda in the lead role as the bodega owner with big dream, Kenny Ortega as director and big Latin stars in smaller roles.

Similar to the social media push to make Black Panther an event for African American moviegoers, and Crazy Rich Asians a must-see for Asian American audiences, there’s a #LatinxGoldOpen hashtag going around for In the Heights with tastemakers holding screenings according to RelishMix. Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding posting on Facebook:

Oprah Winfrey held a virtual block party for the movie:


Sony always saw Peter Rabbit 2 in the $8M-$10M at 3,346 theaters, but rivals believed, like they did with In the Heights, that it could get higher. Peter Rabbit 2’s Friday number included $900K in previews.

Now, In the Heights has an A CinemaScore, indicating that the musical’s fans showed up, and it may take a while for some word of mouth to click in. Same for Peter Rabbit 2. 

In all fairness to Warner Bros., Crazy Rich Asians, which is the logical comp to In the Heights, and also touted a fresh face cast, opened on a Wednesday, and in its first 3-day only made $16M. In the Heights opening day is only 2% off from Crazy Rich Asians $5M opening Wednesday. That said it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison: Crazy Rich Asians didn’t have previews, In the Heights did around $1M+ in Thursday previews, also Friday is a bigger day at the box office than Wednesday, duh. Crazy Rich Asians in the end posted a $26.5M 3-day, $35.2M opening weekend. In the end, the film beat its $30M 5-day projection.

Same wait-and-see rule can be applied to Peter Rabbit 2. While the first movie’s first day of $5.7M was higher than the sequel, its Saturday hopped up 97% over Friday to $11.2M, and resulted in being a game-changer for its opening weekend which ended at $25M.

Disney’s third weekend of Cruella at 3,307 theaters (-615) took in a Friday of $2.1M (-35%) on its way to a projected $6.8M in 5th place, -38%, for a running total of $56.1M.

Universal’s second weekend of Spirit Untamed at 3,394 (+183) theaters made $830K on Friday (-66%) on its way to $2.9M sixth place (-52%) for a ten-day of $11.3M.


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