We all look forward to the weekend, and movie companies are no exception. It’s the best opportunity to debut a film and maximize its viewership – though opportunities were few in 2020, as the pandemic shut down the industry, halting production and closing movie theaters. But things began to look up in 2021, as moviegoers slowly returned to the ritual of going to the cinema on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The opening weekend is crucial to a film’s success. Motion-picture companies release far more movies now than they used to, and a film has a limited time to find an audience and create a buzz. According to research by the Stephen Follows Film Data and Education website, only 27% of movies made more money in their second week of release than in the first. Also at stake is potential international ticket revenue as well as TV and cable sales, which may be influenced by opening week grosses.
To identify every U.S. studio’s or movie production company’s top box-office winner, 24/7 Tempo reviewed “Domestic Biggest Weekend by Theatrical Distributors Box Office Records,” compiled by The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. (Information on cast and directors comes from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon.)
Superhero and horror films have done the best for motion-picture companies on the weekends.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” exceeded expectations for its weekend debut beginning Dec. 17 for Sony Pictures. The movie went on to become the first post-pandemic film to exceed more than $1 billion at the box office.
Horror flicks such as “Hannibal,” “Scream 3” and “The Amityville Horror” were the top weekend winners for MGM, Miramax, and Filmways Pictures, respectively. “Scary Movie 3” and “Scary Movie 4,” send-ups of the fright-film genre, were the respective biggest weekend movies for Miramax/Dimension and Weinstein/Dimension. And films in the fantasy genre such as “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” were box office gold for Summit Entertainment and Warner Bros, respectively. (These are the biggest box office hits since 2000.)
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