BY REBECCA RUBIN
Superhero thriller “The New Mutants,” one of the first major movies to open since coronavirus caused theaters to close in March, launched to $7 million over the weekend. Though ticket sales were on the lower end of expectations, the Disney and 20th Century Studios release marks the biggest debut yet for a new release during the pandemic.
Around 60-70% of theaters have reopened across the U.S. and Canada, according to Disney. However, some of the biggest moviegoing markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York, still remain closed. In parts of the country where theaters have resumed business, venues are capping capacity and keeping space between seats to comply with social distancing measures.
Even before the pandemic hit, “The New Mutants” was facing headwinds. The”X-Men” spinoff, about young mutants discovering their powers, had a particularly arduous journey to the big screen since it was initially scheduled to release in 2018. It reportedly went through extensive reshoots and has been delayed numerous times.
Analyst David A. Gross, who runs movie consultancy FranchiseRe, estimates “The New Mutants” would have generated roughly $14 million if all 6,000 movie theaters in the country were open.
“The figure is below superhero and horror spinoff averages,” Gross said. “Still, it’s a positive step for the business following last weekend.”
“The New Mutants” bowed this weekend alongside a number of fresh offerings, including Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter’s “Bill and Ted Face the Music” and “The Personal History of David Copperfield” starring Dev Patel.
“Bill and Ted Face the Music,” the third installment in the sci-fi comedy franchise, simultaneously debuted on digital rental services. Theatrically, the film picked up $1.06 million from 1,007 screens — with drive-in theaters in Salt Lake City, Dallas and Houston accounting for a bulk of receipts. Though it’s unclear how much money “Bill and Ted” made on premium video-on-demand platforms, Orion Films reported that it was the No. 1 title on iTunes, while the series bundle had the No. 2 slot. “Bill and Ted 3,” directed by Dean Parisot, received mostly positive reviews.
“The Personal History David Copperfield” made $520,000 from 1,360 theaters, a slow start for the PG-rated comedy. Based on the Charles Dickens novel, the movie was directed by “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci. Searchlight, the specialty studio distributing the film, plans to expand “David Copperfield” to nearly 100 additional theaters in time for Labor Day weekend.
“The results, while modest, signals a return to the cinema for moviegoers who are yearning for the majesty of the big screen,” said Searchlight’s head of distribution Frank Rodriguez.
Among holdovers, Russell Crowe’s road-rage thriller “Unhinged” pulled in $2.6 million during its second weekend of release, bringing its total bounty to $8.8 million.