A Quiet Place has turned out to not only be what John Krasinski’s career needed to get out of its post-Office slump, but also what the American moviegoing public needed to get their butts off the couch and into the theater during an unseasonably cold spring weekend. Theater attendance was up 24 percent overall this past weekend, driven largely by strong grosses for top three films A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, and Blockers.
A Quiet Place’s No. 1, $50 million opening weekend is impressive for a low-budget original horror concept of the type generally shunted off to a studio subsidiary or subsumed into a known franchise. (Writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods were prepared to adapt the script to fit the Cloverfield universe, as they said in a recent interview with /Film, but Paramount agreed to produce it as a standalone movie instead.) It’s another positive step in the ongoing mainstreaming of genre films that’s been taking place over the past couple of years, recently given an additional credibility boost by the Oscars success of The Shape Of Water and Get Out. It helps, of course, that A Quiet Place is also a well-crafted, suspenseful creature feature that’s enjoyed nearly universal acclaim from critics and positive word-of-mouth from audiences. You can’t buy this kind of publicity:
The No. 2 and No. 3 movies in America this past weekend also rode into theaters on a wave of positive buzz from SXSW: First, there’s Ready Player One, which dropped 40 percent from its first week to pull in $25 million. That might seem like a lot, but is actually about average for films released in this decade, when word-of-mouth is instant and worldwide. (For a truly steep post-Easter weekend dropoff, see 2016's Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which fell 69 percent in its second week.)
Managing expectations also proved fruitful for Kay Cannon’s hard-R teen sex comedy Blockers; the film’s $21 million, third-place opening was $4 million above that of Game Night, which similarly debuted to positive murmurings from surprised critics earlier this year. (The marketing campaigns for both films, it should be noted, did them no favors.) The real test of John Cena’s rising comedy star comes this weekend, though, when Cena’s fellow charismatic ex-wrestler Dwayne Johnson plows into theaters with his latest, the absurd arcade-game adaptation Rampage.
Meanwhile, in the quiet place of the speciality box office, the big winner of the weekend was You Were Never Really Here, which hammered the competition (sorry) with a $43,304 per-screen average on three screens, by far the week’s highest. Lean On Pete also did pretty well with $12,350 each on four screens, while Chappaquiddick (No. 7) and Miracle Season (No. 11) each pulled in soft openings befitting their mediocre reviews and middling just-barely-wide-release rollouts.
And because it’s just not a weekend at the movies in 2018 without Black Panther—currently at $665 million domestic and counting—setting another record, the film surpassed Titanic ($659 million) this past weekend to become the third highest-grossing domestic release of all time. Now all that’s left for T’Challa and friends to conquer is Avatar ($760 million) and Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens ($936 million). An intimidating task, for sure, made more difficult by the fact that we’re just a few weeks out now from a new Black Panther adventure in Avengers: Infinity War. But with Ryan Coogler’s movie still holding strong at No. 4 in its eighth weekend, anything remains possible.