‘Space Jam’ dunks on ‘Black Widow’ to take box office No. 1

LeBron James, Bugs Bunny and the rest of the stars of Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam: A New Legacy” defied expectations and won the box office this weekend. According to studio estimates Sunday, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” grossed $31.7 million in North America, while “Black Widow” took in $26.3 million. 

Not many expected “Space Jam: A New Legacy” to pull off this win. The poorly reviewed film was pegged for an opening in the $20 million range. But a sizable number of families and millennials who grew up with the original “Space Jam” left the house and went to a theater to see it, even though it’s currently streaming on HBO Max free for subscribers. Not only that, audiences also gave the film a promising A- CinemaScore, suggesting word of mouth could be strong

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is the largest pandemic opening for Warner Bros., which is significant since the studio in 2021 is releasing all its films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. 

It’s also the largest domestic opening for a family film since the beginning of the pandemic. Warner Bros. said 32% of the audience was under 18, which is larger than usual. Most of the major family films that have come out during the pandemic — from “The Boss Baby: Family Business” to “Raya and the Last Dragon” — have opened well under $20 million. But audiences of all ages turned out for the new “Space Jam.”

“It shows that families have waited for a movie that everyone can go to and that’s this movie,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ head of domestic distribution. “It’s just a fun movie for the family.