A Quiet Place Part II smashes pandemic box office records with US$48 million opening weekend

You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from studio executives across Hollywood.

After a brutal year and change for the movie theatre business, the North American box office is finally showing signs of life again.

That's mostly thanks to John Krasinski's post-apocalyptic thriller A Quiet Place Part II. The sequel collected a roaring US$48 million between Friday and Sunday, exceeding expectations and posting the biggest three-day haul of the pandemic era. The Paramount Pictures film, currently playing in 3,726 venues, is expected to generate a sizable US$58 million through Memorial Day on Monday.

Those ticket sales are significant because it's not far off from what the movie was projected to make prior to the pandemic. (The sequel was originally set to release in March of 2020, and, well, we all know what happened then.) The original A Quiet Place opened to US$50 million in 2018, a huge result for a movie that's not based on existing IP. The studio's decision to hold the follow-up film until theatres reopened to a significant degree proved to be prudent.

This is an outstanding opening," says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. "[It's] well above average for a horror sequel." He adds that A Quiet Place Part II could have debuted to $60 million if all US theatres had reopened. "Still," Gross says, "this movie is going to make a lot of money and bring enormous value to streaming."

A Quiet Place Part II, which sees the return of Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as a family forced to live in near-silence, has the benefit of getting an exclusive theatrical release. It will move to Paramount Plus, the streaming service owned by its parent company ViacomCBS, in 45 days. Recent releases, including the Warner Bros. and Legendary tentpole Godzilla vs. Kong and Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, premiered simultaneously on digital platforms. Despite its hybrid rollout on HBO Max, Godzilla vs Kong previously boasted the best start since COVID-19 hit with $32 million for the three-day weekend and $48 million in its first five days on the big screen.

A Quiet Place Part II did exceptionally well on premium formats, like Imax. Of its US$58 million four-day weekend bounty, a (pandemic) record US$5 million came from Imax screens.

As Imax CEO Rich Gelfond put it: "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." He continued, "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."

This weekend's other major release, Disney's live-action Cruella starring Emma Stone, pulled in promising numbers for a movie that's currently playing in homes. (It's available to rent on Disney Plus) The movie, a punk rock origin story about the infamous puppy-hating 101 Dalmatians villain, is estimated to bring in US$21.3 million from 3,892 theatres over the three-day weekend and US$26.5 million through Monday.

Internationally, Cruella has posted $16.1 million from 29 overseas countries. That brings its total earnings to $37.4 million globally, with projections of $42.6 million through Memorial Day.

Over Memorial Day weekend, one of the most popular times of year to visit the movies, overall revenues in the U.S. will be above $100 million for the first time in more than a year, according to Comscore. Around 75 percent of US theatres have reopened, with many locations still facing capacity restrictions.

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, the horror film Spiral - starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson - slid to third place in its third weekend of release. The chilling instalment in the gruesome "Saw" franchise added another US$2.1 million, taking its US tally to $20 million.

Jason Statham's Wrath of Man landed in fourth place with US$2 million. After a month in theatres, the vigilante action-adventure has grossed US$22.7 million.

Raya and the Last Dragon rounded out the top five on box office charts. The family-friendly cartoon made US$1.9 million in its 13th weekend of release. The PG film, which has been offered on Disney Plus Premier Access, has amassed US$51 million to date.