Our Box Office Forecast: Box Office Predictions for the Rest of 2021

Dune. Spider-Man: No Way Home. The Suicide Squad. No Time to Die. Eternals. There are still a lot of great films that are releasing in the last 5 months of 2021 and there is a lot of excitement one can feel over these future releases – I certainly feel it! The box office is currently in its recovery phase and all signs point towards its rise as we head into a heavily stacked 2022 release schedule. 

I will be providing my box office predictions and discussing the domestic and worldwide box office potential of the heavy-hitter films. We still haven’t shifted to a stable landscape as there are still far too many variables that may affect these predictions such as the surge of Delta variant cases and a polarizing vaccine rollout. A recent NRG survey showed that 76% of people are ready and comfortable to return to cinemas – a big improvement on the previous survey. The box office recovery is still a work-in-progress but as covered in our previous article, the box office results of 2021 have already surpassed the bleak expectations. 

It looks certain that stability in the realm of the box office won’t come at least until January 2022. These future releases will assist in the box office recovery and will be the landmarks in which the success of the 2022 releases will lean on – so let’s take a deep dive in the heavy hitters of 2021.

Suicide Squad

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $38 million

Total: $140 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $350 million 

While marketing for the film has ramped up in recent weeks, it is safe to say that the overall marketing campaign for the film has been subpar and has felt quite restrained. At this stage, The Suicide Squad is 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and the critic reactions have been nothing but high-praise for James Gunn’s tentpole flick. The Suicide Squad hasn’t done too well with pre-sales and alongside the fairly weak marketing campaign, we can expect a low opening weekend. However, this should stabilize with excellent word-of-mouth from critics and moviegoers alike. The HBOmax will hinder its domestic total slightly but on a worldwide scope – look for The Suicide Squad to compete closely with Black Widow

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $85 million

Total: $175 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $375 million

This is a particularly interesting film to theorise the future box office potential. You have an MCU film of an original character that hasn’t debuted in the shared universe before. This can’t be compared to Black Widow, as it debuted with Disney+ on premiere access and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has 45 days of theatrical exclusivity. This will inevitably propel to slightly higher box office heights than Black Widow but the unfamiliarity with the character will certainly make some people pause to consider alternative options. You may notice that the total worldwide box office is quite low and that is because the flick still hasn’t locked in a China release date and faces an uphill battle in doing so. 

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $55 million 

Total: $125 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $550 million

Sony has not joined other major studios with the day-and-date release for expedited direct-to-consumers access in the home – theatrical exclusivity is the path for their films. The window in how long they hold that window open is a key in determining the total results for this film which could be 30, 45 or 60 days. Venom was a surprise hit as it obtained $856 million despite poor word-of-mouth from critics (30% on Rotten Tomatoes). This film looks to have a relatively healthy opening weekend with $55 million but I imagine sharp declines after that. The domestic total for Venom only got 25% of its total box office so I expect the international box office to flourish with this film and propel it to great heights amongst the pandemic-openers. 

No Time to Die

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $55 million

Total: $145 million 

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $500 million

The domestic numbers are certainly pessimistic on my part but that’s particularly due to the history of James Bond in North America where it performs far less than the international total. Great Britain is the home of Bond and that is where it outperforms every other major motion picture and I am sure that it will do solid numbers there. The international total should compensate for the low numbers in North America akin to Spectre’s domestic total only equivalent to 22.7% of the worldwide total. It is easily possible for this film to eclipse the predicted numbers here as there is a build-up of anticipation as the film has been a headliner in film delays as it has experienced 6 delays since wrapping filming in October 2019. 

Dune

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $45 million

Total: $100 million 

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $275 million

I’m sorry! I truly hate to be one predicting such low numbers for a film that has cinematic brilliance written all over it. Film fans know that this film has the potential to be a masterpiece as it comes from arguably the best working director today in Denis Villeneuve with one of the best younger actors we have seen with Timothée Chalamet. Reportedly with a runtime of 2 hours and 35 minutes, I just can’t imagine enough casual moviegoers sticking it out for this type of movie, particularly when it is essentially a part one of a complete story. It doesn’t help that it is debuting with an HBO max release (this is saddening as the film is clearly designed for the big-screen experience). Denis Villenueve’s Blade Runner 2049 earned $260 million at the worldwide box office and lost approximately $80 million for the studio despite its incredible word-of-mouth. The marketing is beginning to ramp up now and may be able to save some face prior to the release. 

Eternals

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $90 million

Total: $200 million 

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $600 million

I am feeling quite bold with this prediction but I do feel like this film will have something to offer everyone. Beyond its diverse cast – Eternals comes from Academy Award winning director Chloe Zhao! Sources inside Marvel claim that this film is the best they have ever made and if that does happen to be true, will it still be for everyone? Perhaps a contemplative or slow-burn MCU piece may not stroke the right chord with casual moviegoers? However, I struggle to believe Feige would allow the film to drift heavily away from the Marvel tone. I predict that this film will receive excellent word-of-mouth from critics and audiences alike and people will come back for further viewings. The big X-factor is the China release date that is not locked in yet due to recent controversy which may prohibit a release in that country – this would take a huge dent of the total worldwide box office total. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $30 million 

Total: $100 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $330 million 

This is easily one of the toughest ones to predict. You have to gauge just how active and excited the core Ghostbusters fanbase is and if there is a market for this film beyond the dedicated fanbase. It feels like a film that will live and die by its word-of-mouth similar to Ghostbusters (2016). That film also got the majority of its worldwide box office from the North America territory indicating that international markets may lean so heavily in this flick. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is slotted in between Eternals and Top Gun: Maverick, this films box office potential is as high as the word-of-mouth from critics and fans alike. 

Top Gun: Maverick

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $48 million 

Total: $152 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $515 million

Top Gun: Maverick feels like a movie that has some crazy box office potential IF it can get over some potential setbacks. The marketing campaign for this film started all the way back in July 2019 and the film hasn’t really made any noise since. The film is a sequel to the 1986 Top Gun which has cemented itself inside pop culture demonstrating there is an audience for this film that the marketing can tap into. Featuring new technology for the flight sequences, this film looks to lure people into the cinema by showcasing the film as a big-screen experience. If Paramount Pictures can provide a convincing marketing campaign that gets people in the seats and if word-of-mouth is great, then this is the kind of film that could find its legs and have a lengthy run. 

Encanto

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $60 million

Total: $215 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $700 million

Encanto, currently the highest predicted grosses both in its domestic and worldwide totals. Releasing thanksgiving in the USA, this film should follow the same trajectory as the Frozen films (albeit opening with a lot less) in that the film will have an extremely lengthy run. The long opening weekend in thanksgiving and heading strongly into the holiday frame with the Christmas/New Year periods as a family-friendly movie will ensure a strong run. Word-of-mouth will need to be strong in order to sustain the legs but if the film has the same Disney formula/magic then you can be assured this will do numbers. 

West Side Story

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $40 million 

Total: $135 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $330 million

In a normal box office climate, you can be assured a moderate opening with some great legs over the course of the holiday period and majority of the awards season. Spielberg at the helm of one of the most famous and beloved musicals of all-time, you can feel pretty good that it will be something special. Assuming it translates to excellent word-of-mouth and has a strong presence in awards season, you can expect some excellent staying power will drop quite low week to week. The musical doesn’t have a large presence internationally besides Great Britain so it’s tough to imagine the foreign markets contributing a lot to this. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $135 million

Total: $300 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $850 million

Here we go! The big one – that everyone is currently waiting for! You have heard the rumours and based on a lot of a lot of insider sources and merchandising, those rumours are all but confirmed. It feels likely that we will be subjected to a live-action spider-verse and with that, great box office returns. The success of this film is essentially reliant on the condition of the real world – are vaccination rates strong enough that cases are low? Is the delta variant surging throughout the world? So many variables determine the box office potential of this. We are talking about the first film to potentially sweep by the billion dollar milestone since the pandemic and it realistically could. However, films that rely on childhood nostalgia and are essentially massive cinematic events usually open high and have steep drops in their first few weekends. This will likely be the case for Spider-Man: No Way Home, so the opening weekend is huge for determining the long-term projection of the box office. Either way, it will definitely be the biggest film since the pandemic struck.

The Matrix 4

Domestic Box Office

Opening Weekend: $50 million

Total: $130 million

Worldwide Box Office

Total: $460 million

I must say, this is quite easily the toughest to predict. Primarily because we are yet to know anything about this movie – is it even releasing this year? If I don’t know much about this film then rest assured that the general audience probably doesn’t even know this movie is coming out, let alone this year! Following on from the 2003 film The Matrix: Revolutions, The Matrix 4 continues the story of Neo (Keanu Reeves) but no indication that Morpheus or Agent Smith will appear in this film. A lot of speculation but if the film emulates specks of The Matrix (1999) and the marketing campaign is enticing and nostalgic, then you can expect a strong opening and solid box office performance through the holiday season. Word-of-mouth is essentially the X-factor here. 

As we live in such an unpredictable world, these box office predictions shall be treated kindly! There are far too many variables that I can’t see in my crystal ball that will have a heavy impact on the numbers. It could be at the extent of further delays of upcoming films including Spider-Man: No Way Home. However, based on the current numbers, film industry landscape and in line with the current projection of things – I have put together detailed predictions. I usually have a knack for the box office so lets see how these numbers fare out.

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