Twentieth Century's sci-fi comedy "Free Guy" slipped but did not trip on Sunday as it clung to the top spot in North American movie theaters with an estimated take of $18.8 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported.
The film, its release delayed a year by the Covid-19 pandemic, is a lighthearted yarn starring Ryan Reynolds as an Everyman bank teller who finds -- not unlike Jim Carrey's character in "The Truman Show" -- that he is a character in a huge video game and must save his friends from being deleted.
Family-friendly "Free Guy" was slightly off from its $28 million opening weekend, but analysts said its result was impressive with Covid-19 still hanging over the industry and Tropical Storm Henri deterring moviegoers in the US Northeast. It has a healthy global take so far of $112 million.
In second position, earning $13 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period, was new Paramount release "Paw Patrol: The Movie." That was a respectable total, said Variety.com, for a film aimed at young kids -- who remain ineligible for Covid vaccines. "Paw Patrol" tells the story of a boy named Ryder and the brave pups who help him save Adventure City from a colossally evil mayor.
Third spot went to Disney's family adventure film "Jungle Cruise," at $6.2 million. Its plot -- well, suffice it to say it is based on a theme-park ride.
Horror feature "Don't Breathe 2," from Sony, followed with a $5.1 million take in its second weekend. Starring Stephen Lang -- who has what website Rotten Tomatoes calls a "thrillingly imposing presence" -- it revolves around a game of mass murder perpetuated by a blind veteran.
And in fifth place was United Artists' biopic "Respect," at $3.8 million. Grammy, Golden Globe and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson stars as queen of soul Aretha Franklin -- who reportedly picked Hudson for the role. The Washington Post calls her portrayal a "kind of creative -- even spiritual -- mind-meld that sends a chill down the spine and a catch to the throat."