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Space Jam: A New Legacy Takes on Black Widow at the Box Office

Black Widow has faced down mad titans and genocidal robots, but can the veteran Avenger take down a band of scrappy Looney Toons?

It’ll be a showdown between Disney’s and Marvel’s “Black Widow” and the Warner Bros. sequel “Space Jam: A New Legacy” at the domestic box office, with Scarlett Johansson’s superhero adventure poised to reclaim the top spot.

After “Black Widow” opened on July 9 to $80 million in North America, a record for COVID times, the comic book adaptation is projected to add $24 million to $28 million in its second weekend of release. Independent tracking services suggest that range is conservative and show the final weekend figure could reach $32 million through Sunday. A $30 million-plus haul in its second frame would be a decline on par with fellow Marvel standalone adventures such as 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which each dropped 60% from their initial weekends. It would also be a slight improvement on another pandemic-era release, Universal’s “Fast & Furious” sequel “F9,” which debuted to $60 million in June and plunged 67% in its sophomore outing.

In a rare moment of streaming revenue transparency, Disney revealed last weekend that “Black Widow” collected $60 million globally on Disney Plus, where the film premiered (for a $30 surcharge) on the same day as its theatrical release. For now, Disney isn’t expected to update that figure beyond its opening weekend sales.

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Similar to “Black Widow,” audiences don’t have to visit their local movie theater to see “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” The sequel to 1996’s cartooned sports comedy “Space Jam” is also playing on HBO Max for the next 31 days. The film is projected to open to $20 million from 3,950 locations, which would be a moderate start considering the film cost $150 million to produce. LeBron James, starring as a fictional version of himself, and the Looney Tunes crew — Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Lola Bunny and Daffy Duck, among others — team up in “Space Jam: A New Legacy” for a high-stakes game of basketball. Reviews for the lastest “Space Jam” haven’t been released yet.

Also new to theaters this weekend is Sony’s horror movie “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions.” The PG-13 film, a follow up to the 2019 thriller “Escape Room,” is expected to generate $7 million to $10 million from 2,775 locations over the weekend. That would result in a huge dip from the original, which debuted to $18 million and ended its box office run with $57 million. The first film was budgeted at $9 million, while the sequel carries a $15 million price tag. A flashback to the halcyon days where people weren’t scared to gather in enclosed spaces, “Escape Room 2” follows six people who unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of, you guessed it, escape rooms.

At the independent box office,  Focus Features is opening “Roadrunner,” a documentary about the late chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. Directed by Morgan Neville, whose resume includes acclaimed docs “20 Feet From Stardom” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the movie premiered to strong reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival. “Roadrunner” explores the life of Bourdain, the host of “Parts Unknown” and the author of “Kitchen Confidential,” who died by suicide in 2018 at the age of 61. Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman praised the film, writing that “Roadrunner” presents a “psychological, almost novelistic portrait of how Bourdain evolved as a person during the years of his celebrity.” Following its release on big screen, “Roadrunner” will air on CNN and on the HBO Max streaming service at a later date.

With several new nationwide releases, movie theater owners are poised to get another much-needed boost in attendance this weekend. After a delayed start to summer, film exhibitors have been struggling to emerge from the pandemic that threw the business for a loop. In promising news, though, 81% of cinemas in the U.S. and Canada have been able to reopen, the largest percentage since the onset of COVID.

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