Matrix Resurrections didn’t just underperform at the weekend box office, it was a disaster. The same day and date hybrid release WB committed to for theatrical/HBO Max continues to hurt their 2021 film slate. While people paid to go see Sing 2 and Spider No Way Home for a second time, moviegoers chose to stay home and watch the new Matrix film. For a film that cost over 200 million to make this might be the biggest box office flop that WB has endured this year.
Universal and Illumination’s Sing 2 opened with a solid holiday debut. The jukebox musical earned $23.76 million over the Fri-Sun portion of a $41 million Wed-Sun debut (including $1.6 million in Thanksgiving weekend sneak previews). That is close enough to Sing’s $35 million/$56 million opening over Christmas weekend 2016 that I would argue this was a business-as-usual debut. Sing was well liked and leggy ($271 million or 4.8x its Wed-Sun debut) but it’s not like the world was gagging for the next Buster Moon adventure.
Warner Bros.’ The Matrix Resurrections became the latest victim of “online fandom does not equal general audience interest.” The Keanu Reeves/Carrie-Anne Moss sequel earned $12 million over the Fri-Sun portion of a $22.5 million Wed-Sun frame.
Throw in a B- Cinemascore grade (although men 18-24 gave it an A-) and we’re probably looking at a $40-$45 million domestic finish, or about what The Matrix earned ($37 million) over its Wed-Sun debut in early 1999. The Lana Wachowski-directed sequel has earned $69 million worldwide, including $9 million from last weekend’s first overseas territories. The notion of a two-decades-later sequel to The Matrix was always, at best, a commercial coin toss. There is an enormous difference between something that’s popular right now (like Sing 2) and something that was popular 23 years ago.
20th Century Studios finally unleashed The King’s Man after two years of delays. As frankly predicted way back when, the prequel origin story landed with an indifferent thud. Yes, the film is better than Kingsman: The Golden Circle. And, yes, Matthew Vaughn just wanted to make a World War I-set action/espionage drama and used the IP as an alibi. But the $6.35 million Fri-Sun/$10 million Wed-Sun debut is what happens when Hollywood mistakes interest in a specific film with interest in an abstract IP.
Meanwhile Spider-Man No Way Home continues to web up all the money. The latest Spider-Man sequel becomes the first post-Covid theatrical release to earn a billion dollars at the box office. Sony’s comic-book epic has eclipsed that milestone in a near-record 12 days, tying with 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the third-fastest film to reach the billion-dollar benchmark. Only 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” were quicker, smashing the coveted tally in 11 and five days, respectively.
So if one thing post-Covid releases have taught us it’s that movie-goers will show up in droves for event movies with something they want to see. Things they don’t care about they are more willing to wait and stream at home.
Movie theaters will have a lot to think about moving forward with which franchises to continue and which ones should be left alone.