‘Purge’ Reclaims Independence Day As ‘Peter Rabbit 2’ Moves To June

Will something big move into the Independence Day holiday, or will Hollywood give F9 some breathing room before Black Widow?

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In other bits of new release date news, and I’m really hoping this is settled up by May so I can do a summer movie preview, Universal has moved The Forever Purge from July 9 to July 2 while Sony has moved Peter Rabbit: The Runaway from July 2 to June 18. Yes, Peter Rabbit: The Runaway is trying to set a record, even on a Covid curve, for new release dates. The sequel, which has already opened (to decent reviews) in Australia, was set for February 7, 2020, April 3, 2020, August 7, 2020, January 15, 2021, April 2, 2021, June 11, 2021, May 14, July 2 and finally (maybe?) to June 18.

The film was first moved to July 2 after Minions: The Rise of Gru was delayed by a year, but now it’ll open on the same weekend where previously existed Pixar’s Luna. Beyond just getting the movie off the books sooner rather than later, I can only wonder if the date change means that Sony might move one of their bigger flicks (Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Cinderella, etc.) to the family-friendly July 2 weekend. I wrote a few days ago about moving Ghostbusters: Afterlife to early May (including the unoccupied May 21 slot), and I’d argue even more forcefully for a now tentpole-free Independence Day holiday weekend. But that’s pure speculation.

If the social media buzz around the mini-Staypufts is any indication, 3.5 months is arguably enough time to remind folks about the movie in time for a July 2 debut if there is a desire to get the Jason Reitman-directed “legacy sequel” into the summer. Conversely, with Top Gun: Maverick now sent to November 19, we may see a scenario where nothing “big” opens on July 4 weekend. That’s not unlike the summer of 2014, where Transformers: Age of Extinction opened on June 24 (with $100 million toward a $240 million domestic and $1.105 billion global finish) while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opened on July 7 with $71 million toward a $210 million/$710 million cume.

All things considered, it wouldn’t be a tragedy if the weekend was left “open,” giving the presumed tentpole kick-off flick F9 an extra bit of runway between its June 25 debut and the July 9 launch of Marvel’s Black Widow. I still think it would be beneficial to have something “big” opening in early-to-mid May so that it’s not a giant gap between Godzilla Vs. Kong and (three weeks later) Mortal Kombat on April 23 and (at best) Spiral: From the Book of Saw on May 14 or Cruella and A Quiet Place part II on Memorial Day weekend. But, come what may, it’s not my money being risked opening a high-risk flick amid unknowable market conditions.

Besides, Independence Day weekend won’t be empty, with The Forever Purge opening on July 2, the 25th anniversary of Independence Day back in 1996. ID4 is among the more aspirationally patriotic movies ever released on this weekend, one which presented America’s generational differences and ethnic melting pots as a strength rather than a source of conflict (to the point where it’s been painful to watch of late). It is fitting/ironic that Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes’ The Purge has become the definitive July 4 franchise of the last decade. If Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s alien invasion epic showed America at its best, then The Purge present America (or at least America’s privileged/ruling class) at its worst.

James DeMomaco’s The Purge opened with a then-record (for an original, R-rated horror movie) $33 million in June of 2013 and earned “just” $65 million domestic and $89 million on a $3 million budget. The Purge: Anarchy, which expanded the world and didn’t just use the “crime is legal tonight” hook for a home invasion thriller, opened with $29 million and legged out to $71 million domestic and $112 million on a $9 million budget. Universal cannily scheduled The Purge: Election Year (clearly written back when we all thought Hillary Clinton would be facing Jeb Bush or Rick Santorum in the 2016 presidential election) for July 4 weekend and earned $79 million domestic and $118 million worldwide on a $10 million budget.

Director Gerard McMurray’s The First Purge used its prequel template for an even more explicit righteous racial revenge fantasy (think Rosewood with a happier ending). It opened on July 4 with a $9.6 million opening day and  $31.5 million over the Wed-Sun debut. Cue a $69.4 million domestic and $137 million worldwide on a $13 million budget. I don’t know what director Everardo Gout is up to in this fifth and final installment, but I don’t expect one of the few big studio franchises to openly acknowledge and confront institutional racism, misogyny, nationalism and class-based genocide to be less confrontational in 2021. The Purge is the Independence Day franchise we deserve and the one we need right now.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2021/04/09/box-office-purge-reclaims-independence-day-peter-rabbit-2-moves-f9-black-widow-ghostbusters/