Animated Puppies Top Most of the Big Names

None of the weekend debuts can catch Ryan Reynolds' latest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 22, 2021 2:00 PM CDT
Free Guy Outruns Big Names and Animated Puppies
This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Ryan Reynolds in a scene from "Free Guy."   (20th Century Studios via AP)

Four new films with major stars including Hugh Jackman and Michael Keaton opened in North American movie theaters this weekend, and only the one with animated puppies fared well. But it wasn't enough to beat out Ryan Reynolds' action-comedy Free Guy, which topped the charts for the second weekend running. PAW Patrol: The Movie, a Paramount release targeted at very young kids that's also streaming on Paramount+, earned $13 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday. It was by far the best of the new openers, which included three adult-skewing films that failed to find significant audiences: the action pic The Protégé, with Keaton and Maggie Q; the sci-fi thriller Reminiscence, which is also streaming on HBO Max; and the well-reviewed Rebecca Hall horror The Night House.

First place went to Free Guy, a 20th Century and Disney release that's playing exclusively in theaters. It dropped a miniscule 34% and added $18.8 million this weekend, bringing its global total to $112 million. The studio attributed the strong hold to word of mouth. The relative success of PAW Patrol surprised even those involved. Although the movie is based on a popular Nickelodeon series, its target audience of children under 6 is a wild card. Delta variant concerns and its availability to stream at home made it even more of a moving target. "The pups are very beloved and have a very, very loyal audience," a Paramount executive said. Celebrities who voiced characters in the film include Tyler Perry, Jimmy Kimmel, Yara Shahidi, and Kim Kardashian. Disney's Jungle Cruise, which is available to rent on Disney+, landed in third place.

(Read more box office stories.)

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