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'F9' puts charge back into movie theaters with $70M opening

The ninth installment in the “Fast & Furious” franchise opened only in theaters and had the widest release of any movie since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

LOS ANGELES — In the strongest sign yet that life is left in movie theaters, “F9″ sped to a box office take of $ 70 million in its first weekend, the biggest opening for a film since the pandemic began, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The ninth installment in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, starring franchise regulars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, opened only in theaters and had the widest release of any movie since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

The domestic total for Universal Pictures’ “F9” topped the previous pandemic-best of $ 48.4 million for “ A Quiet Place Part II ” four weeks ago. It was the biggest opening of any film since “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in December 2019.

“We couldn’t be more gratified to see that the audience embraced the ‘Fast’ family and came out to see ‘F9’ in tremendous numbers,” said Jim Orr, head of distribution for Universal. “The debut this weekend has really ignited the domestic box office and set it on a tremendous path for the rest of the year.”

“A Quiet Place Part II” came in a very distant second with $ 6.2 million. But it has now earned $ 136.4 million since its release. “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” brought in $ 4.88 million in the third spot.

F9,” whose release was delayed several times, looks to have landed on just the right weekend to open in North America. It seemed to be a fitting film for the industry moment, with young audiences eager to be in theaters for a movie that emphasizes a loud, action-packed, immersive experience.

“It’s the perfect intersection of growing consumer confidence and vaccinations in North America, with movies that have already been released creating momentum,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “I don’t think you could have imagined a better scenario for the industry, with a few speed bumps in there. With ‘Furious 9’ being really the first summer blockbuster in two years.”

“F9” debuted internationally on May 19, and has now grossed more than $ 400 million globally.

Universal eschewed the hybrid approach of combining theatrical and streaming releases, as Disney did earlier in the year with “Cruella” and Warner Bros. did with “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

It also came after most major theater chains have significantly loosened restrictions on capacity and masking.

The trends suggest that Hollywood might have something resembling a regular summer movie season, albeit one that starts months late and won’t be setting any industry records.

Releases in the coming weeks include Disney and Marvel’s “Black Widow” and Warner Bros.’ “The Suicide Squad.” Studios are using a variety of hybrid release plans. While the time movies spend between theaters and streaming has shrunk, probably permanently, there is an increasing emphasis back on the big screen.

“It’s a delayed start to a summer that’s been a long time coming. To have late June be ostensibly the start of summer is unusual, but better late than never,” Dergarabedian said. “A big Fourth of July weekend is coming up, with virtually every genre represented, and a week later we have ‘Black Widow,’ so we’re on the road to recovery.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.

  1. “F9,” $ 70 million, ($ 334.9 million international).
  2. “A Quiet Place Part II,” $ 6.2 million, ($ 112.1 million international).
  3. “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” $ 4.88 million, ($ 14.5 million international).
  4. “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” $ 4.85 million, ($ 79 million international).
  5. “Cruella,” $ 3.7 million, ($ 112.5 million international).
  6. “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” $ 2.9 million, ($ 101.5 million international).
  7. “In The Heights,” $ 2.2 million, ($ 5.9 million international).
  8. “Spirit Untamed,” $ 591,917.
  9. “12 Mighty Orphans,” $ 560,000.
  10. “Nobody,” $ 229,000.

This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Entertainment

'Downton Abbey 2' hitting theaters in December

Downton Abbey fans rejoice: The Crawley family is returning for the holidays.

NEW YORK — The original principal cast of “Downton Abbey” are returning for a second film that will arrive in theaters December 22 this year, Focus Features announced Monday.
“Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes has written the sequel’s screenplay, and Simon Curtis (“My Week With Marilyn”) is directing. Joining the original cast are Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West.
Production began last week on “Downton Abbey 2.”
“After a very challenging year with so many of us separated from family and friends, it is a huge comfort to think that better times are ahead and that next Christmas we will be re-united with the much beloved characters of ‘Downton Abbey,’” said producer Gareth Neame.
The 2019 film, coming three years after the series ending, made $ 194.3 million on a modest budget of less than $ 20 million.
The first movie was set in 1927, two years after the events of the series finale. In the film, the Crawley’s learned that King George V and Queen Mary would be paying Downton Abbey a visit, and must prepare to receive the monarchs.

This article originally appeared on CBS8 – Entertainment

Regal Cinemas to reopen US theaters in early April

Regal Cinemas will kick off a phased reopening in the U.S. with a limited number of theaters opening for “Godzilla vs. Kong” on April 2.

WASHINGTON — For the first time in about six months, Regal Cinemas will be reopening its theaters to the public in April, according to an announcement from its parent company, Cineworld Group.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Cineworld Group said the phased reopening will kick off with a limited number of theaters opening for “Godzilla vs. Kong” on April 2 and going wider with “Mortal Kombat” on April 16.
Movie theaters all over the United States were impacted over the past year as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.
“We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theatres and restore our essential role within the communities we serve,” said Mooky Greidinger, Chief Executive Officer of Cineworld, in a statement. 
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He added: “With the health and safety of our customers, staff, and communities as our top priority, we continue to take all the necessary precautions and abide by our CinemaSafe guidelines to confidently provide a safe and comfortable experience. With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets.”
As of the end of September, Regal Cinemas had 536 theatres in 42 states along with the District of Columbia and Guam.
Cineworld added that it plans to reopen its U.K. locations in May, once the government guidance allows it.
On top of reopening U.S. theaters, Cineworld also reached a multi-year agreement with Warner Bros. Cineworld said starting in 2022, Warner Bros. Pictures Group movie releases will have a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity, with certain provisions.
“We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros. This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.” Greidinger added. 
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Last week, AMC Theatres opened 98% of its U.S. movie theaters, with even more theaters are expected to open by March 26.

Audiences hold back, even as more movie theaters open

North American theatrical grosses stayed relatively muted, despite some major new releases.

Theaters reopening in New York City this weekend did not set the box office on fire. North American theatrical grosses stayed relatively muted, despite some major new releases like Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” and Lionsgate’s Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley action flick “Chaos Walking,” according to studio estimates Sunday. 

Walt Disney Animation’s ” Raya and the Last Dragon ” earned an estimated $ 8.6 million from 2,045 locations in North America. The well-reviewed fantasy adventure, featuring the voices of Awkwafina and Kelly Marie Tran, is also available for Disney+ subscribers to rent and stream at home for $ 29.99. Streaming grosses were not reported. 
Warner Bros. “Tom & Jerry,” which is available to stream free for HBO Max subscribers, brought in $ 6.6 million from 2,563 North American theaters in its second available weekend. Last weekend the animated film scored the best domestic opening of the year  with $ 13.7 million. 
“Chaos Walking,” meanwhile, debuted with $ 3.8 million. The future set film from “Edge of Tomorrow” director Doug Liman cost around $ 100 million to make.
Approximately 80% of the domestic market is currently allowed to operate with limited capacity. Many areas in North America are not yet fully open, including Los Angeles, and most California counties, Washington D.C., and much of Canada. 
Disney is hoping to keep “Raya” in theaters throughout the spring. There are scant major family films on the schedule until early summer and the company is hoping for increased play during spring breaks and as more territories reopen. 
Internationally, “Raya and the Last Dragon” earned an estimated $ 17.6 million from 32 territories — the highest grossing of which was China with $ 8.4 million. 
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