The John Krasinski-directed horror sequel, starring Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy, was set to be the first Labor Day blockbuster.
If the delay of A Quiet Place Part II from September 4, 2020 to April 23, 2021 signaled the death of the 2020 summer movie season, it also signaled a summer movie season without a signal box office record being broken. There will be no $100 million opening weekends this summer, nor any $300-$600 million domestic earners. There will be no members of the $100 million losers club, nor any global releases anywhere near $1 billion. Up until Thursday, we had at least one potential new record on the verge of being set. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s A Quiet Place Part II was going to become the first Labor Day weekend blockbuster.
The Paramount PGRE horror sequel was tracking for an over/under $60 million opening weekend when it was pulled from its March 20 release date and sent to September 4. At the time, it certainly seemed like a long-enough time for America (and the world) to get the coronavirus under control, but, well, Hollywood probably didn’t expect our executive branch of our federal government to do little-to-nothing to alleviate the problem during the first three months of quarantine. Moving Wonder Woman 1984 to August made sense in March. Ditto scheduling A Quiet Place part II in early September and keeping Tenet in July as a welcome back present for multiplexes. It all made sense at the time.
Had A Quiet Place part II opened on September 4 as planned, it almost certainly would have broken short-term (and probably long-term) records for a Labor Day weekend release. The “start of school/end of summer” holiday weekend has never been a launching bad for conventional blockbusters. The current record holder for the biggest Labor Day weekend launch remains the $30.5 million Fri-Mon debut of Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake. There are just seven movies that have opened over Labor Day (Jeepers Creepers, The American, Jeepers Creepers 2, One Direction: This is Us, Transporter 2, The Possession and Halloween) to open above even $15 million, let alone the mega-launches usually associated with other more family-friendly holiday weekends.
Labor Day usually marks the end of the summer season, and as such we usually get a B-movie opener or a star-driven flick aimed at adults (The American, The Debt, The Constant Gardener, etc.). It’s been a breather between the summer season and New Line’s latest horror spectacular. It opened with $123 million in the weekend after Labor Day in 2017, while The Nun ($51 million), It: Chapter Two ($98 million) and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (initially set for September 11, now moved to June 4, 2021) followed suit/would have followed suit. As such, the biggest domestic earner opening on Labor Day weekend remains Halloween with $58 million in 2007.
Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High earned $27 million in 1982 from this weekend ($83 million adjusted for inflation) while Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again earned $38 million in 1991 ($82 million adjusted). Had life returned to some sense of normalcy, A Quiet Place part II, a buzzy and (judging from social media chatter) critically-acclaimed sequel to a much-loved commercial and critical smash, would have likely topped Halloween’s $58 million domestic gross in its opening weekend while speeding past Fast Times and Dead Again’s inflation-adjusted totals by the end of its second weekend. A $65 million Fri-Mon debut followed by a drop even as severe as Halloween (-63%) would have given it a $93.5 million ten-day cume.
Presuming some semblance of normality is achieved by April of 2021, I’m sure A Quiet Place part II will open huge and leg out accordingly when it does open on April 23, 2021. It’ll open concurrently with Paul W.S. Anderson’s video game adaptation Monster Hunter which was also set for September 4 before getting delayed to insure a healthy Chinese theatrical marketplace. It’ll join F9 (April 2, 2021) as the month’s two mega-movies, giving itself two weeks before Shang-Chi and a month before Spiral: From the Book of Saw. But it won’t set any records, it’ll just be another ridiculously successful sequel released just before the official start of the summer movie season.