Jun 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

Movies make Memorial Day comeback

Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

The holiday weekend saw a resurgence at the box office, breathing new life into an industry that barely survived the pandemic.

Why it matters: "There may not be enough adjectives to describe the importance of this weekend’s box office performance to movie theaters," Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian tells Axios.

  • The "numbers supplied indisputable proof that the allure, prestige and continued importance of the cinema experience is undeniable," said Dergarabedian.

Driving the news: Paramount's horror-thriller “A Quiet Place Part II" blew past expectations this past four-day weekend, bringing in an estimated $57 million from box office ticket sales across North America, per Comscore.

By the numbers: Disney's "Cruella" also did well in theaters, considering viewers could stream the film online on Disney+ for $30 the same day it opened in theaters.

  • In total, "Cruella" brought in an estimated $26.5 million at the box office over the four-day weekend, making it the second-highest earner over the weekend. Disney hasn't said how many people watched the film on-demand.
  • Overall, the box office is expected to top over $100 million over the four-day holiday weekend, the most it's made since March 2020.

Be smart: These numbers were especially strong considering 72% of all North American theaters are currently open, per Comscore. But the numbers are still far off from pre-pandemic levels.

  • While this past Memorial Day weekend set a pandemic record, it still brought in about half of the roughly $230 million in box office sales in 2019.
  • While "A Quiet Place Part II" beat expectations, Disney's "Aladdin" made nearly double at the box office over the same four-day holiday weekend in 2019.

The big picture: It's unclear whether the box office will ever fully revert back to pre-pandemic highs, but given how much movie consumption habits and business models have changed due to the pandemic, it seems unlikely.

  • Most movie studios have experimented with shortened theatrical windows over the past year, letting consumers view their films at home via streaming much sooner than the traditional 90-way window.
  • “A Quiet Place II,” for example, will be available to stream on Paramount+ in 45 days, which is about half of the typical 90-day window of exclusivity that used to be granted to theaters before the pandemic.

Go deeper: Movie theaters eye summer box office rebound

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