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Why A Quiet Place: Day One Blew Everyone Away At The Box Office

"A Quiet Place: Day One" is the latest installment in the series that began with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt hiding out from sonar-equipped, bloodthirsty aliens. The latest movie is a prequel that goes back to the beginning of the invasion and transports us to New York City, one of the deadliest places to be when the aliens first arrive. Fans knew that this movie would expand the timeline of "A Quiet Place" and introduce a new cast of characters, but they had no idea if "Day One" would be able to recapture the success of the first two entries.

After the movie's opening weekend, it's safe to say that the franchise has pulled off a hat trick. "Day One" earned $53 million in the U.S. alone, and the global box office for its debut came in at $98 million. The first movie could have been a fluke, and with the pandemic still raging at the time, it was hard to gauge the success of "A Quiet Place Part II," but now we can say for certain that the franchise just won't quit.

It took the efforts of an extremely dedicated team to make "Day One" such a smash success. The movie wouldn't have gotten nearly as far as it did without the work of the stars, the director, and, yes, the cats that delighted audiences everywhere. There's always more to the story than you see at first glance, so let's dig into why "A Quiet Place: Day One" blew us all away at the box office.

Its opening didn't have a ton of competition

If we're being honest, a movie doesn't always fail or succeed on its own merits. There are plenty of circumstances that are far outside the control of any individual filmmaker or studio. For example, COVID changed the entire film industry forever, but usually the biggest competition any one movie needs to worry about is another film butting in on its opening box office. On that front, "A Quiet Place: Day One" was very fortunate.

The prequel's debut wasn't going up against many other openings, much less another blockbuster summer debut. The Kevin Costner film "Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1" opened the same weekend as "Day One," but the two movies appealed to wildly different audiences. "Day One" beat out "Horizon" as the second-best performing movie of the weekend, losing out on the top spot to "Inside Out 2," which says more about Pixar's popularity than anything. "Day One" couldn't have hoped for better competition on its opening weekend than a historical Western and a weeks-old family movie. It was able to swoop in and grab any horror fans looking to head to the theater — or any adult who didn't want to sit through the first, three-hour chapter of Costner's proposed four-part film series.

The marketing sold the movie well

The marketing push for "A Quiet Place: Day One" arguably helped the movie even more than its fortunate opening weekend competition. The initial teaser trailer for "Day One" was able to call back to fans of the first film with a quick shot of John Krasinski's Lee Abbott, while also reminding them of the return of Djimon Hounsou's Henri from "Part II." 

Between "Day One" trailers being blasted out on YouTube and social media, and theaters playing them ahead of almost every film, there was hardly any way to avoid hearing about the movie in the lead-up to its release. One fan even commented on Reddit that the marketing for "Day One" was so thorough that they were still seeing advertisements while trying to sit down for the movie itself, writing, "In my screening last night, they even played the 'Day One' trailer before 'Day One.' We got worried and thought we were in the wrong theater." Hey, you can't blame the marketing team for giving it 110%, and clearly all those efforts seriously paid off.

People are still interested in the franchise

This really might be the simplest explanation behind the success of "A Quiet Place: Day One." It's a little hard to believe, but this franchise kicked off more than half a decade ago. The first "A Quiet Place" movie was a surprise success, but in retrospect, the appeal is easy to see. Everyone seems to love post-apocalyptic movies, and "A Quiet Place" had an original twist that really forced audiences to live in the silent tension the characters were experiencing. Even after delays, the sequel ended up being a box office success, and by taking us back to the beginning, "Day One" promised fans it would tell a side of the story they hadn't gotten to see much of before.

There's still enough interest in the strange alien creatures at the heart of "A Quiet Place," and enough enthusiasm for the franchise's overall conceit, to keep this thing kicking a while longer. "Day One" had the best opening in the entire franchise, and the strength of the last two movies has a lot to do with that success. "A Quiet Place" has become a franchise that people know they can rely on for a certain degree of quality, and that drove them back to theaters for the prequel.

Day One dodges the baggage from the other movies

"A Quiet Place: Day One" benefited from the success of the earlier two movies in the franchise, but it also made the right choice to not continue the story those movies started. Because "Day One" is a prequel, it really doesn't require much previous knowledge from viewers. It doesn't matter if you've never heard of "A Quiet Place" or if you've been with the series since its very first opening weekend — you can sit down and enjoy "Day One" all the same.

Since the film largely breaks away from the characters that we've seen before, established fans and total newcomers will find themselves on more or less even footing when they sit down to watch the movie. That's not to say it ignores everything that's come before. There are a number of small nods for longtime fans and even entire characters, like Djimon Hounsou's Henri, that are meant to appeal to people who have seen the first two films. Ultimately, however, "Day One" was able to bring the franchise to a new audience in a way that a movie like "A Quiet Place 3" just wouldn't have been able to do.

By expanding the world of "A Quiet Place," there's also a good chance that the prequel could even inspire sequels of its own. Director Michael Sarnoski has even hinted that he has been thinking about how we might end up seeing some of the characters from "Day One" again.

It debuted in a year full of horror sequels

Odds are good that audiences would have turned out for "A Quiet Place: Day One" no matter what, but it definitely doesn't hurt that the movie opened in 2024. Some years are big for action blockbusters, while others are packed full of dramas. 2024, both before and after the debut of "Day One," is a year for horror sequels.

Before "Day One" debuted, movies like "The Strangers: Chapter 1" and "The First Omen" had already set the tone. Those were also horror prequels, though they weren't exactly on equal standing with each other. "The Strangers" flopped with critics and audiences alike, but "The First Omen" performed quite a bit better, letting audiences know that 2024 wasn't just going to be a year of disappointments.

There's a chance some people were just using "Day One" to kick off their own horror sequel marathon. The back half of 2024 is stacked with releases like "MaXXXine," "Alien: Romulus," and "Smile 2." There's something to be said for fitting in, and "Day One" really matched the overall tone of horror movies in 2024 — familiar franchises often trying new things, for better or worse.

A Quiet Place: Day One has an excellent director

Being a prequel isn't the only way that "A Quiet Place: Day One" shook up the franchise. The movie also introduced some big changes behind the camera, with original director and co-writer John Krasinski stepping away and letting another filmmaker take his place. Krasinski's work on the series made "A Quiet Place" what it is, so regardless of who took over his job for "Day One," fans probably would have shown up to theaters out of pure curiosity. 

"Day One" had Michael Sarnoski sitting in the director's chair, and that arguably helped the movie bring out some moviegoers who otherwise would have had no interest in "A Quiet Place." Prior to directing "Day One," Sarnoski made his feature directorial debut on the Nicolas Cage movie "Pig," which arrived in 2021 to massive critical acclaim. There's a big difference between an emotional drama like "Pig" and a blockbuster horror sequel like "Day One," but that in and of itself is cause for some interest.

Reviewers seem to agree that Sarnoski once again proved that he's a capable director with "Day One." There's no denying that his work on the movie helped make it a worthwhile watch, but his name alone also possibly helped get some "Pig" fans through the theater doors during the movie's opening weekend.

It's got a star-studded cast

Of course, the talent on display in front of the camera in "A Quiet Place: Day One," has just as much, if not more, to do with the movie's success as the person sitting behind the camera. Front and center is "12 Years a Slave" and "Black Panther" star Lupita Nyong'o, who horror fans should also be intimately familiar with by now. Back in 2019 she starred in "Little Monsters" and "Us," and since then she's kept busy with appearances in movies like "The 355" and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." Alongside her is Joseph Quinn, who fans will likely recognize as Eddie Munson from "Stranger Things." After "Day One," he's set to star in "Gladiator 2" and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Fantastic Four" movie.

Those two get the lion's share of the attention in "Day One," but some of the side characters are played by notable actors as well. We've already mentioned Djimon Hounsou, who reprises his role as Henri from "A Quiet Place Part II" and sheds some light on that character's backstory. You might also have noticed that the character of Reuben looks awfully familiar, and that's because he's played by Alex Wolff from the "Jumanji" films and "Hereditary." Actors like that probably helped put "Day One" on the radar of people who missed the first two movies in the series, which were bolstered by the likes of Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, and Cillian Murphy.

Frodo the cat stole the show

Everyone who's seen "A Quiet Place: Day One" knows that the real star of the movie is Frodo the cat. Frodo, who belongs to Lupita Nyong'o's Samira, provides some of the most thrilling and heartwarming moments in the entire movie. According to writer-director Michael Sarnoski, Frodo was a key part of the story from the beginning. "Frodo grew naturally out of Sam's character. A hospice patient isn't necessarily aiming for survival during the end of the world, and this is a chance for her to reconnect with her life," Sarnoski told The Hollywood Reporter. "Frodo became an extension of that."

Frodo made such a splash that after the movie's debut, outlets like Variety and The Wall Street Journal were shouting him out in headlines. Fans loved Frodo's on-screen action, but his behind-the-scenes story is even better. Frodo was played by two real cats, Schnitzel and Nico, and initially Nyong'o wasn't excited to be working with them. She had a phobia of cats and went through exposure therapy to be able to play Samira in "Day One." The therapy and Nyong'o's experience working with two cats for the movie accomplished more than anyone could have guessed: By the end of the shoot, Nyong'o had decided to adopt a cat of her own. That's reason enough to start putting a cat in every new release.

Day One took A Quiet Place to a new location

If you're new to "A Quiet Place," then you might find it easy to overlook just how important the setting of "Day One" is to the rest of the franchise. The first movie in the series took place almost entirely at a small farmhouse, and the second movie gave us brief glimpses of small town life before and after the alien apocalypse. "Day One," on the other hand, takes us to the Big Apple, which is absolutely terrifying when you stop to think about it.

There are millions and millions of people in the city that never sleeps, and that makes keeping the volume down an extreme challenge. Based on the premise of "Day One" alone, fans knew that they were in for the biggest, most extreme version of "A Quiet Place" yet. The setting helped build excitement for the movie leading up to its release because we knew we were going to see some serious destruction and some real proof of why the sightless aliens were able to so easily take over the world. In the end, "Day One" opted to focus its attention on the smaller, more human aspects of the story, but the setting still plays an important role in the movie and its overall success at the box office.

The story stands on its own two feet

Horror prequels and sequels are a mixed bag, and we could all probably name some definite winners and losers off the top of our heads. So many follow-ups that fail to make an impact just rely on riding the coattails of a movie that audiences already fell in love with. There was every chance that "A Quiet Place: Day One" gave us all the apocalyptic imagery and none of the heart of the original movie, but instead the prequel arguably managed to surpass the movies that came before it.

Plenty of reviewers have been completely caught off guard by the storytelling in "Day One." The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney wrote, "It's not often we get a postapocalyptic saga that remains so personal, so in touch with human loss as something not just forgotten in the next jump scare but given room to linger." He's far from the only one who noticed that "Day One" manages to perfectly hit the emotional beats and flesh out its main characters while still providing a blockbuster experience.

IGN reviewer Eric Goldman had a similar view, writing, "This spinoff/prequel to those earlier films introduces new characters in a new setting that successfully elevates both the tension and the emotional impact of John Krasinski's nearly dialogue-free horror films," adding, "The result is the series' best movie to date." Instead of being a forgettable cash-grab, "Day One" managed to reinvent the franchise and make "A Quiet Place" feel fresh again.