Newest ‘Fast & Furious’ and 2 other Universal films dominate July 4 box office weekend

July 5, 2021, 11:30 AM UTC

Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures dominated the top three spots in box office during the July 4th holiday as audiences poured in to see its returning action flick “F9” and two new releases.

The Fast & the Furious installment topped the box office again over the Independence Day holiday, generating $24 million from Friday to Sunday, slightly below the industry estimate of $25 million. Four-day ticket sales through Monday are expected to reach $32.7 million, according to researcher Comscore Inc. The movie beat expectations last weekend to score a $70 million opening.

In addition to “F9,” Universal is releasing a new dystopian thriller, “The Forever Purge,” and a new animated comedy “The Boss Baby: Family Business.” Without much competition, the studio is expected to generate about $72 million in ticket sales from these three films over the four-day period, according to Comscore.

Universal is “going the extra mile” by releasing three new titles over the past two weekends, dominating this July 4th weekend “with a wide array of content from the genres of action, animation, and horror,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said Sunday.

Theaters and studios need big box-office numbers to generate enthusiasm for movies and encourage consumers to return to cinemas. Hollywood has seen a few big weekends in 2021 but is overall doing far less business than in pre-pandemic times.

The industry is also still fighting news about the coronavirus. Los Angeles officials recently urged people continue to wear masks indoors because of the Covid-19 delta variant.

“The industry has seen films debut with boffo numbers, but finding legs has proven to be very difficult,” said Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. “The road to recovery will be a long one, but hopefully by the holiday season this year, we’ll see theatrical exhibition normalize.”

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“Boss Baby 2” was the first movie that Universal premiered in theaters and on a streaming service simultaneously. The sequel to the 2017 animated hit “Boss Baby” was made available to those paying either $5 or $10 a month for the premium levels of the company’s Peacock streaming service.

Universal also has the option to release “F9” for on-demand viewing five weekends after its theatrical debut, and Bloomberg Intelligence estimates studio’s take from that strategy could be about 10% higher than the revenue from a cinema-only run.

“Boss Baby 2,” the No.2 film in box office, made $17.4 million in ticket sales, followed by “The Forever Purge”’s $12.8 million sales, according to Comscore.

By next week, the box office will get another major test of moviegoer interest. Walt Disney Co. will release “Black Widow,” the first movie since 2019 from its Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, the most profitable in history. Adding a wrinkle to estimating cinema attendance is the fact the studio will also make it available for a $30 fee to Disney+ customers.

Even so, the action film, starring Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, may break the $70 million pandemic-era opening record set by “F9.” The movie could make as much as $90 million domestically in the first three days of its release according to Boxoffice Pro.

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