AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC) Inc (NYSE:AMC) investors will likely have received a confidence boost over the weekend as Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS)’s latest offering Free Guy saw a better-than-expected opening at the box office despite the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The film, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a non-player character in a video game, collected around US$28.4mln in ticket sales over the weekend, above expectations of around US$20mln, after releasing in 4,165 theatres across North America.
Unlike previous Disney releases this year such as Marvel epic Black Widow and adventure outing Jungle Cruise, Free Guy will not be available to stream on the Disney+ streaming service at the same time as its cinema release, instead playing exclusively in theatres for 45 days upon release.
While distribution issues mean Free Guy did not make it to Disney+, the move follows criticism that launching movies on the streaming platform simultaneously with the theatrical release is hitting ticket sales hard.
Free Guy will also be eyed for how it performs going forward, with many recent blockbusters seeing strong opening weekends before box office receipts dropped off sharply in subsequent days.
The film’s success may also indicate a growing preference for original intellectual properties among audiences, rather than remakes, reboots and extensions of existing franchises that have dominated the blockbuster landscape for the last few years.
Meanwhile, the seeming rebound in cinema attendance will raise recovery hopes at AMC following strong second-quarter earnings last week that saw revenues beat expectations.
The company has forecast that revenues for the third quarter are on track to reach 45% of the levels seen in the same period of 2019.