Disney and 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy is expected to take the number one spot at the box office for the second weekend in a row. The comedy action picture stars Ryan Reynolds as a non-playable video game character named Guy in a fictional city. Once he realizes he is living in a game, Guy sets off on a quest to become the hero of his own story. The film stars Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and Stranger Things’ Joe Keery as the game’s programers.
Video games have proven fiendish mediums to translate onto the big screen. Assassin’s Creed and Mortal Kombat were both adapted into critical flops in recent years, with the video game material proving hard to turn into silver screen magic. Critics have argued that movies about games, such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, tend to tell more compelling stories, which is what Free Guy does successfully according to critics. The Reynolds vehicle was certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, won an A-grade CinemaScore from audiences, and easily led at number one in its first weekend.
According to Variety, Free Guy is expected to take the top spot at the box office for a second week. The film is projected to add another $16-18 million to last weekend’s haul, reaching a total gross of $56-58 million. The film beat expectations in its opening weekend, pulling in $28.4 million domestic, despite concern over the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the delta variant. Outside of the US, Free Guy earned an additional $22.5 million globally.
Paramount’s Paw Patrol is also having an excellent week and will take the number two spot at the box office, despite also being available to stream on Paramount Plus. Disney rounds out the top three again with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt’s Jungle Cruise. Free Guy’s success points to the enduring appeal of leading man Reynolds and the rise of Comer, who is already beloved in her native Britain. All of this points to franchise appeal for the property (and, indeed, Disney has already expressed interest in Free Guy 2).
Cinema lovers will be watching these box office returns with a close eye. Disney has reverted to a theatrical-only strategy with Free Guy, despite testing other pictures (including Black Widow), with a Disney+ Premier Access release at the same time. The success of this release may point to pandemic-era trends starting to shift in the industry. Stay tuned to see if this continues with Marvel’s Shang-Chi next month, which will also receive a theatrical-only release.