Heading to the movie theater to watch an anticipated blockbuster sequel during the summer is one of America’s favorite pastimes, as evident with the record-breaking success of the sports family movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy. The comedy garnered $31.65 million this weekend. The number represents the highest grossing box office return for Warner Bros. during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Space Jam: A New Legacy, which was directed by Girls Trip helmer, Malcolm D. Lee, is the standalone sequel to 1996’s Space Jam. The popular franchise’s second installment stars legendary NBA star, LeBron James, who took over the lead role from the original entry’s star, Michael Jordan.
The follow-up was a sure bet to be a fan favorite amongst film fans who loved the first feature. Both comedies interweave an NBA legend with the beloved animated Looney Tunes characters. The popular athletes and cartoon characters must compete in a basketball torment in order to achieve their goals.
Sequels like Space Jam: A New Legacy are often a sure bet for audiences and studios alike. When an original movie ultimately proves to be successful with viewers, whether through its stellar acting, relatable storyline, or, like in the case with Space Jam, captivating visuals effects and stunts, fans often want to see what will happen next with their favorite characters, especially in outlandish situations.
Studios like Warner Bros. use that public demand for a film’s continuation to their advantage to make another feature and bring in more money. So follow-up movies end up becoming beneficial for both audiences and the studios alike.
In addition to Space Jam: A New Legacy, this summer has also drawn in respectable box office returns for several other sequels, including The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, A Quiet Place Part II and F9. Fans were eagerly awaiting to escape the real-life challenges they have endured during the pandemic this past year-and-a-half by checking in with their favorite characters from the series, including the Warrens, the Abbott family and Dom Toretto’s make shift family.
Warner Bros. found some success with the third installment of its hit supernatural horror series, The Conjuring Universe, which earned $189.1 million at the box office. The second entry in the A Quiet Place series garnered an even more impressive total of $285.6 million for Paramount Pictures. The eight direct follow-up in the Fast Saga has proven to be one of the most successful sequels this summer so far, having made $591.3 million for Universal Pictures.
Despite the success of the sequels that have already been released this summer, especially Space Jam: A New Legacy, the fate of Black Widow‘s future is unfortunately not as promising. The latest installment in the MCU, which is the first movie the franchise has released in two years, after the smash 2019 hit, Avengers: Endgame, made headlines last weekend when it made $80 million at the American box office. The revenue made the superhero film the highest-grossing feature since theaters reopened after COVID-19.
The standalone movie fell 67% during its second weekend at the box office, ending up with a mere $26.3 million. The drop was the steepest Weekend 2 decline in MCU history. The drama’s distributor, Disney, also celebrated Black Widow‘s $60 million in revenue from its first weekend on Disney+ Premier Access. But the studio chose not to divulge how much the film made from Disney+ in its second weekend.
That decline is cause for concern for theater owners who were hoping that the latest MCU installment would help jump-start their businesses. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the National Association of Theater Owners distributed a press release yesterday that criticized Disney’s decision to simultaneously release Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+, as it feels that distributing blockbuster movies exclusively in theaters first is the most beneficial route for everyone involved.
Despite the dismal second weekend box office return for Black Widow, blockbusters can thrive again at the summer box office if studios like Disney return to the model of making sequels standalone films again, like what it did with the earlier follow-ups in the MCU. Movies like Star Trek Beyond and Deadpool 2 didn’t entirely operate on the belief that audiences had to see the sequel’s predecessors in order for them to enjoy the new stories.
Some of the most successful summer sequels are also those that were helmed by acclaimed indie filmmakers who made the leap into bigger studio fare with their blockbuster follow-ups. Such indie helmers as Marc Webb, who went from (500) Days of Summer to The Amazing Spider-Man; Rupert Wyatt, who started with The Escapist and went on to Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Gareth Edwards, who began Monsters before going on to Godzilla; and Colin Trevorrow, who initially worked on Safety Not Guaranteed before going to Jurassic World; were promising up-and-comers who weren’t fazed by the experiences working on bigger studio projects when they delved into creating gripping, emotional stories that connected with audiences.
Heading to the movie theater to watch an anticipated blockbuster sequel during the summer is one of America’s favorite pastimes, as evident with such new movies as Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, A Quiet Place Part II and F9. After struggling to overcome the challenges associated with COVID-19, film audiences are eager to have fun again by returning to theaters to engage in one of their favorite pastimes.