Review of Box Office: LeBron James’ Space Jam Dunks Over Black Widow

Daljit Kalsi

Fueled by a hefty dose of nostalgia and the appearance of one of LeBron James, Space Jam: A New Legacy took control of the box office with a massive-for-a-pandemic opening haul of $31.65 million, or roughly on par with the opening of Godzilla vs. Kong, all despite a simultaneous release on HBO Max.

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Color me surprised. I assumed Space Jam would do decent business, but clearly underestimated audience love for the bland 1997 film starring Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny and a scene-stealing Bill Murray. Notably, the sequel posted a better opening than the original (when not adjusting for inflation), which opened to $27.5 million when it opened in 2,650 theaters on Nov. 15 and earned $90 million worldwide.

Internationally, the Malcolm D. Lee-directed feature earned $23 million bringing its worldwide total to $54 million. It’ll be interesting to watch how the flick fares in the coming weeks and whether it has enough legs to reach $100 million domestically, particularly with its availability on HBO’s streaming platform.

Speaking of streaming platforms impacting a film’s box office potential, Marvel’s Black Widow dropped a steep 67% in its second weekend with $26.25M. As noted by Deadline, of all the Marvel films, 2003’s The Hulk and Ant-Man and the Wasp endured the most significant second-week drops with 70% and 62% declines. Considering Black Widow’s 92% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (to say nothing of its 81% critical rating), one must assume audiences simply decided to view the film a second time on Disney+ (at a $29.99 cost), or were to busy flocking to Space Jam 2 to give Scarlett Johansson’s popular assassin another look.

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At any rate, Black Widow’s domestic total now stands at $132 million while its worldwide gross has reached $232 million worldwide. The flick currently ranks last on Marvel’s all-time grossers just behind 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which really tells you something’s up. Under normal circumstances, I’d expect a film of Black Widow’s caliber to reach the box office levels attained by the likes of Doctor Strange, Iron Man 2 and Thor: Ragnarok without breaking a sweat.

Such is life in the pandemic where moviegoers are clearly being very choosey about what films they leave their homes to see. This also raises an interesting question: has the long delay on the current slate of would-be blockbusters raised our expectation levels to the extreme? Black Widow, in my opinion, was good, but far from great. Had it released on schedule last year, I might have enjoyed it a little more, but after a year of pent up anticipation, there’s a chance none of the remaining 2021 films — Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Die Another Day, Top Gun: Maverick, etc. — will live up to the prolonged hype.

Anyways, the only other new releases this week were Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which collected $8.8 million from 2,815 theaters over its first three days; Foc’s Roadrunner, which earned $1.9 million from 925 locations; and the Nicholas Cage drama Pig, which managed $945K from 552 theaters.

Elsewhere, F9 banked another $7.6 million to bring its domestic total to $154 million and its worldwide sum to $591 million.


1. Space Jam: A New Legacy (WB) 3,965 theaters Fri $13.2M/Sat $10.5M/Sun $7.9M/Sun 3-day: $31.65M/Wk 1
2. Black Widow (Dis) 4,275 theaters (+115)/Fri $8M /Sat $10.3M/Sun $7.2M/3-day $26.25M (-67%)/Total $132M/Wk 2
3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony) 2,815 theaters Fri $3.8M/Sat $2.8M/Sun $2.15M/3-day $8.8M/Wk 1
4. F9 (Uni) 3,368 theaters (-281), Fri $2.2M /Sat $3M/Sun $2.4M/3-day $7.6M (-33%)/Total: $154.8M/ Wk 4
5. Boss Baby: Family Business (Uni) 3,449 theaters (-239), Fri $1.5M /Sat $1.8M/Sun $1.4M/3-day $4.7M (-47%)/total $44.6M/Wk 3
6. Forever Purge (Uni) 2,735 (-323) theaters Fri $1.3M/Sat $1.6M/Sun $1.27M/3-day $4.16M (-42%)/total $35.9M/Wk 3
7. A Quiet Place Part II (Par) 1,995 (-364) theaters Fri $700K/Sat 915K/Sun $685K/3-day $2.3M (-27%)/total $$155M/Wk 8
8. Roadrunner (Foc) 925 theaters Fri $780K/Sat $650K/Sun $470K/3-day $1.9M/Wk 1
9. Cruella (Dis) 1,175 (-700) theaters Fri $352K/Sat $466K/Sun $294K/3-day $1.1M (-54%)/total $83.4M/Wk 8
10. Pig (NEON) 552 theaters Fri $377K/Sat $333K/Sun $235K/3-day $945K/Wk 1

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