A24 got ahead of the Independence Day wide release competition yesterday with the opening of their Sundance Janicza Bravo directed thriller Zola which took in $505K at 1,468 theaters for a 6th place rank. The movie, based on the zany Twitter thread, boasts 88% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and is expected to bring in $2M-$4M in a weekend over 5 days where the top three spots will be owned respectively by Universal movies (over a 3-day basis): the second weekend of F9 (~$28M), The Boss Baby: Family Business ($15M+) (also available on streaming service Peacock for purchase) and The Forever Purge ($10M+). It’s the first time that a major studio owned the top three slots at the weekend box office since Sony during Feb. 11-13, 2005 with Hitch, Boogeyman and Are We There Yet?
Zola follows a Detroit waitress (Taylour Paige), who strikes up a new friendship with a customer, Stefani (Riley Keough). The latter seduces Zola to join her on a weekend of dancing and partying in Florida. What at first seems like a glamorous trip full of “hoeism” rapidly transforms into a 48-hour journey involving a nameless pimp, an idiot boyfriend, some Tampa gangsters and other unexpected adventures in this wild, see-it-to-believe-it tale.
I’m told that the crowd for Zola yesterday and through its Tuesday night previews were young and diverse. For 25% of the ticket buyers, it’s their first movie back during the pandemic. In some theaters, 50% of the audience polled said Zola repped their first trip back to the cinema.
The last time A24 played the July 4th frame was in 2019 with Ari Aster’s Midsommar, but that was a different theater count and a different time at the box office with a $3M opening day at 2,588 locations, culminating in a $6.56M 3-day, $10.9M 5-day start.
Meanwhile, Universal’s F9 led Wednesday with $5.02M at 4,179 theaters, taking its running domestic total through six days to $88.1M. That is not the biggest Wednesday to date during the pandemic, rather the second-best, after Warner Bros.’ opening day of Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong ($9.7M). F9 should easily become the fastest movie to cross $100M during the pandemic, beating A Quiet Place Part II‘s 15-days to that milestone. Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard posted a first Wednesday (and opening day) of $3.9M on June 16, while A Quiet Place Part II‘s first Wednesday grossed $3.87M. The Paramount genre sequel made $930K yesterday (-5% from Tuesday) in 2nd place at 3,124 theaters taking its running stateside total to $139.3M.
Third place Wednesday belonged to Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2 in 3,331 theaters, earning an estimated $870K in its 3rd Wednesday, -13% from Tuesday, for a running total of $31.4M.
Disney’s fifth Wednesday for Cruella made an estimated $647K, -12% from Tuesday, in 2,820 locations for a running total of $73.4M. In 5th place, was Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard at 3,361 which posted an estimated second Wednesday of $602K, -13%, for a running total of $27.8M as the Millennium sequel heads into its third weekend.