Weekend Forecast: ‘Jumanji’ and ‘Maze Runner’ Fight for First as ‘Winchester’ Opens

On what is sure to be one of the slower weekends of the year, first place will go to one of two holdovers, while the only new wide release is a low budget horror film, unlikely to crack $10M.

The first holdover is Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which seems set for a hard second weekend drop following a decent start of $24M. The first Maze Runner dipped just 46% in its second weekend, while The Scorch Trials fell 53%. The long delay and “final chapter” element imply that the opening weekend would have bigger fan anticipation, and thus a drop of closer to 60% seems likely. A 57% drop would put it at around $10.6M, which seems likely.

Jumanji may be able to reclaim first this weekend, joining a rare club of titles which held first for several weekends, lost it, and then took it back. Not to mention, taking first place in a seventh weekend is nothing short of a miracle.

The sole new release of the weekend is Lionsgate’s Winchester, the quote-unquote “based on a true story” supernatural thriller, starring Helen Mirren and produced for a surprisingly low $3.5M. The historical premise seems like an interesting idea for a scary movie, but the advertising has sold little more than generic ghostly jumpscares and startling noises. With no reviews as of 11PM EST on Thursday night, don’t expect much from this one. Look for an opening in the high single digits.

The Greatest Showman will receive an IMAX release this weekend, which should help keep the film in the top 5 yet again.

Once again, a slew of Academy nominees will be expanding. The Shape of Water will increase its total to 2,341, while Three Billboards is going into 1,726. Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour are both receiving expansions, and will go into roughly 1,100 and 1,400 theaters respectively. One mild surprise was Coco, which will be re-entering over 1,000 theaters, bringing its total to over 1,600. Normally when a studio does something like this it’s to top some milestone (such as $100M or $200M), but Coco already hit the $200M mark about two weeks ago, making this a bit of a headscratcher.

Predictions

  1. Jumanji – $12.5M
  2. Maze Runner – $11.0M
  3. Winchester – $8.5M
  4. The Greatest Showman – $7.7M
  5. The Post – $5.8M
  6. Hostiles – $5.5M
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Weekend Report: ‘Maze Runner’ Tops Final Weekend of Busy January

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After several surprise hits and a slew of Oscar buzz, the first month of 2018 ended on a somewhat quieter note, as Maze Runner: The Death Cure easily took first with an okay $23.5M weekend. Meanwhile, Jumanji and The Greatest Showman continued to see great holds, as Hostiles overperformed in its nationwide expansion.

The final film in the Maze Runner took first with a decent $23.5M opening. That’s off $6.5M from Scorch Trials, which was in turn off about $2M from the original. What’s interesting to note with both this and the Hunger Games series is that both franchises saw a sizable dip in attendance once the titular events that they were sold on ended; Hunger Games saw many turn away from the Mockingjay films, which featured no actual Hunger Games, but rather just ‘post-apocalyptic government resistance’, similar to what the Maze Runner series saw in its two sequels. When audiences are sold on the premise that made the first book successful, they might not show up to see the random adventures of the unremarkable characters, especially when so many other options are available in multiplexes right now. Ultimately, look for this one to wind up with around $60M domestic. With strong overseas potential, however, that’s not really an issue.

In second, Jumanji may have lost its first place crown, but it was still the more impressive performance with $16.4M in its sixth weekend. The film topped Warner Brothers’ It and Sony’s own Spider-Man: Homecoming to become the fourth highest grossing film of 2017. What remains to be seen is whether or not it can top Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for third place.

In third place, Hostiles surprised somewhat with a $10.2M weekend, good for third place. Entertainment Studios made the smart choice to move this from its original release date of last weekend, where it would’ve faced tough competition from both 12 Strong and Den of Thieves. Entertainment Studios spent $9M for the rights to the western flick, and was seemingly hoping for some awards buzz with its limited Christmas release and subsequent expansion, but unfortunately received nothing, making this overperformance all the more surprising. With only a B Cinemascore, holding up in the coming weekends may be a bit tough, but without any real competition, it should be able to wind up with around $30M or more.

In fourth and fifth we find two more Fox titles, The Greatest Showman and The PostGreatest Showman seemingly just refuses to slow down, dropping just 11% for a new total of $126M. At this point, topping the $150M total of La La Land is a foregone conclusion, and the real test will be whether or not this can remain in theaters until it hits Blu-ray in early March. The Post was down 25% for a new total of $58M, following the Oscar nominations earlier this week. It will be included in various marathon showings of all Best Picture nominees, though with their combined single-ticket price, it will be hard to know exactly how the profits will be spread.

Last weekends two new releases 12 Strong and Den of Thieves were down around around 50% each, with totals of $8.6M and $$8.3M respectively. That hold is a bit of a surprise for Thieves, which seemed to have all the markings of an extremely front-loaded January release. Totals near $50M are now possible for both of the R rated actioners.

Yet another Fox title Shape of Water was in the top 10, as it added 1,000 theaters this weekend, for a total of over 1,800, and saw a jump to $5.7M. That’s a very strong result for the R rated drama, which has so far pulled in $37M, and may get up to over $50M before the awards themselves. Three Billboards also expanded into around 1,400 theaters where it saw a softer weekend of $3.6M, which isn’t particularly surprising considering most audiences already got a chance to see this back in Thanksgiving, whereas this was most audiences first chance to see Water.

I, Tonya was up 4% to just under $3M from 960 theaters, raising its total to a very strong $18.8M. Phantom Thread went into over 1,000 theaters but dipped 11% to $2.9M, crossing the $10M threshold. Darkest Hour and Lady Bird are now both over the $40M mark, making Lady Bird the first A24 release to hit that mark. In fact, their previous highest title, Moonlight, only made around $27M. Call Me by Your Name was the only contender to not see a change in theaters, as the Sony release stayed in 815 theaters, dipping 6% to $1.3M. Once again, this isn’t something as accessible to mainstream audiences, so a total of over $11M has to be seen as a minor win.

Next weekend only sees one nationwide release, Lionsgate’s Winchester, meaning most moviegoers will use it as an opportunity to catch up on awards contenders they may have missed.

Weekend Forecast: ‘Maze Runner’ to Take First, Best Picture Nominees Expand

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE

After nearly a month in first place, Jumanji is set to lose first place to Fox’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the third and final film in the Maze Runner trilogy. Also opening is Entertainment Studios’ Hostiles, while a number of Best Picture nominees will be headed back into theaters following the Academy’s nominations.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure seemingly marks the end of the long running YA adaptation genre, after every other major franchise ended several years ago, with no more major releases on the schedule. The three-quel was long delayed following an on set injury, leading many to expect a significant drop-off from the second installment, The Scorch Trials. The last comparable title would be Allegiant, the third of four planned films in the Divergent series, with the final installment being cancelled by Lionsgate after a terrible performance. That film suffered a 45% drop from the second installment, which would place Death Cure at around $16.5M for the weekend. I’m anticipating it won’t drop quite that much, but it also will most likely not do too much over $20M.

Hostiles is getting a surprisingly wide release in 2,850 theaters, as the western drama was originally set to be released last weekend, but was pushed back to avoid the flurry of competition following MLK weekend. Marketing has emphasized the films strong reviews and star power, but with a hefty $40M production budget and a general lack of online interest, finding an audience will be difficult, especially with two other R rated action films both opening over $15M last weekend. Entertainment Studios is supposedly projecting a $12M weekend, which seems highly unlikely. Their last nationwide release, Friend Request, opened to just $2M. Their predictions had it at the $8-$10M range.

Following the Academy Award nominations earlier this week, a slew of titles are re-entering theaters. The Shape of WaterLady BirdThree Billboards, and Phantom Thread are all going into over 1,000 theaters, while I, Tonya is just below that at 960. All of these titles should be looking at around $3-$4M for the weekend, with the exception to this being Shape of Water, due to its higher theater count (1,800) and 13 nominations, the most out of any film nominated. These two factors could push the film into the top 5 if all the stars align.

Get Out is also headed back into theaters, though a comparatively more modest number at 468. This makes sense considering the film already pulled in more than $175M domestic and has been available on home video since May.

Roadside Attraction’s Forever my Girl will expand into around 1,400 theaters this weekend, which should be enough to give it a decent hold.

Among other holdovers, Den of Thieves will likely see a fairly steep decline as January action movies aimed at young men typically do, while 12 Strong should benefit from its A Cinemascore and older audience to avoid a drop of more than 50% or so. The Greatest Showman will also likely be in the top 5 until around August or so, as it continues dipping less than 20% weekend after weekend.

Predictions

  1. Maze Runner: The Death Cure – $18.7M
  2. Jumanji – $14M
  3. The Post – $11M
  4. The Greatest Showman – $9M
  5. 12 Strong – $7.2M
  6. Den of Thieves – $6.5M
  7. Paddington 2 – $6.2M
  8. The Shape of Water – $5.6M
  9. Hostiles – $4.8M

Weekend Report: ‘Jumanji’ Three-peats, ‘Thieves’ Surprises

Gerard Butler stars in DEN OF THIEVES

Not to sound like a broken record at this point, but once again, Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle took first place, while 12 Strong opened roughly on par with expectations, and STX’s Den of Thieves overperformed.

Jumanji dipped 29% to $20M in its fifth weekend, raising its total to a massive $316M. At this point, $400M domestic is a legitimate possibility if it can continue its strong holds. Worldwide, the film is up to $767M, more than 8.5x its production budget. A worldwide total of roughly $900M seems to be likely from here.

In second place, Warner Brothers opened their war thriller 12 Strong. The action film took in $16.5M in its opening. In what was a bit of an upset, Den of Thieves was actually tied for first on Friday, with an identical $5.66M each. Thieves, however, did that with around 600 fewer theaters and no boost from IMAX tickets. This is a fine opening considering the $35M budget, but don’t expect great holds from here. A total around $45M seems to be the best case scenario.

In third, Den of Thieves doubled its predictions with a potent $15.3M. This is another win for STX Entertainment, whose seen surprisingly consistent results over the last several months. With a B+ Cinemascore, word of mouth should be fine, but January action films like this targeting young male audiences tend to drop off very quickly. If Thieves closes with much more than $35M, it would be a bit surprising.

In fourth, The Post dipped 37% down to $12M, raising its domestic total to $45M after two weeks in wide release. Oscar nominations are still a few weeks away, but crossing the century mark is not yet out of the question.

The Greatest Showman continued its spectacular run, as the Fox musical slipped just 12% to $11M, meaning that its fifth weekend was higher than its opening. At this point, a total above $150M seems probable, meaning it could outgross last years musical hit La La Land. Another Christmas release, Pitch Perfect 3, also topped the century mark this weekend, making it the 32nd 2017 release to do so.

Last weekends releases generally held as expected, with Paddington 2 dropping a strong 25%, The Commuter falling around 51%, with only Proud Mary doing worse than expected. After a week opening, Sony’s hitman thriller failed to save face, plummeting 63% and falling out of the top 10.

Roadside Attractions opened their romantic drama Forever my Girl in around 1,100 theaters, where it saw a better than expected $4.7M. Don’t expect this one to stick around too long, but with a miniscule $3.5M production budget, this one may turn a small profit in the long run.

Universal’s surprise horror hit Insidious: The Last Key managed to top the original Insidious, with a total gross of $58M and counting. A total around $70M seems like a lock, which is a fantastic result. Expect news of a fifth Insidious film any day now.

Among the specialty market, a number of new films saw nationwide expansions into already crowded multiplexes. The highest of these was Phantom Thread in a very wide 896 theaters, where it managed a decent $3.3M. That’s higher than Anderson’s last film Inherent Vice, albeit with a decently higher theater count.

I, Tonya expanded into 799 theaters and dropped just 10%, bringing its new domestic total to a solid $14M. This is the first release from new distributor Neon to capture any real attention at the box office. The Shape of Water expanded into 853 theaters, up around 150 from last weekend, and brought its domestic total over $30M.

Finally, Sony decided to go nationwide with Call Me by Your Name after a strong limited run, but general audiences ignored the romance, giving it just $1.5M for a per theater average of $1.8K. While it will top $10M domestically very soon, it will also likely be fizzling from theaters quickly with a number of wide releases in the coming weekends.

Next weekend will see the wide releases of Hostiles and Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which should be able to topple Jumanji from the first place position that it has held onto for nearly a month.

Weekend Forecast: ‘Jumanji’ and ’12 Strong’ to Top Busy January Weekend

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Not to sound like a broken record, but Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set to repeat in first place yet again, despite a handful of new releases and expanding titles hitting theaters.

The biggest of these new releases is Warner Brothers’ war drama 12 Strong. The trailers have emphasized the action and dramatic elements, specifically using real footage of 9/11 and the “based on a true story” element. The closest comparison would be 13 Hours from 2016, which pulled in around $16M in its opening weekend, a number that Strong will likely wind up a bit below. Its numbers could be bolstered a bit by the IMAX release, but don’t count on anything over $20M. However, with a modest budget of $35M, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

STX is also opening an action thriller, the cops vs robbers film Den of Thieves. The closest comparison here is another early 2016 title, Triple 9. That film only opened to around $6M and barely managed to double that by the end of its run. With a running time of nearly two and a half hours, a lack of significant marketing, and trailers that don’t offer much outside of a generic heist plot, anything above that would be surprising for Den of Thieves. 

Roadside Attractions is opening their first nationwide release in quite some time with Forever My Girl, a romantic drama primarily aimed at teenagers. Marketing has been essentially non existent, and the mid January release date and 1,000 theater count implies that Roadside is simply trying to dump this. Anything above $3M would be a surprise.

Phantom Thread is going into a somewhat shockingly wide 897 theaters this weekend. That’s one of the biggest expansions for a platform release during this awards season, which is strange considering the lack of marketing and seemingly little appeal to mainstream audiences. Anderson’s last film, Inherent Vice, expanded into around 650 theaters in January of 2015, where it could only muster a weekend of $2.7M. Matching that per theater average would net a weekend of $3.8M, which seems very unlikely. Anything over $3M would be a bit of a surprise. The Shape of Water and I, Tonya are also getting minor expansions into around 800 theaters each.

Call Me by Your Name is also supposedly scheduled for an expansion this weekend, though no numbers are available as of Thursday evening. With an excellent $7M in the bank from just 174 theaters, the interest certainly exists, but what remains to be seen is if the LGBT centered content of the film can translate to a successful expansion. Assuming an expansion of 600-700 theaters, a weekend around $2-$3M seems likely.

Predictions

  1. Jumanji – $19.5M
  2. 12 Strong – $13M
  3. The Post – $12M
  4. The Greatest Showman – $8M
  5. The Commuter – $7M
  6. Insidious – $6M
  7. Den of Thieves – $5.4M

Forever my Girl – $2.9M

 

The Post – Movie Review

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The Post marks the latest historical drama true-story directed by Steven Spielberg, and surprisingly his first collaboration with both Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

Considering the source material and the talent involved, The Post plays out essentially how you would expect. This is Spielberg going through the motions to create an engaging yet unremarkable experience that feels overly reliant on the reflections between the story presented in the film and the current political climate in which the film is being released. Several very on-the-nose lines of dialogue eliminate any subtlety the message may have had if handled by a more sharp screenwriter who allows the audience to make these distinctions themselves, rather than having them quite literally spelled out to the audience.

The Post was shot by Janusz Kaminski, the same DP as most of Spielberg’s projects in recent memory. The scope aspect ratio and muted blueish-gray color palette combined with the energetic camera movement and usual Spielberg-ian fluorescent lighting permeating every indoor scene make the film generally pleasing to look at and never detract from the atmosphere for which the film is aiming for.

From a content perspective, the closest comparison here is Spotlight, a film I personally consider to be significantly better due to its more effective slow-burn pacing and emotionally brutal subject material, which gave it the real punch that The Post never quite accomplished.

The constant ticking-clock element keeps the characters and the audience constantly aware of deadlines, just as they would be in a real newsroom, but never quite manages to capture the essence of do-or-die that Spotlight managed over a much longer period of time. This is the quintessential problem of creating an overly thematic sense of drama where none really needed to be added, as the events of the true story were already enough to have legitimate stakes and consequences – even if the audience knows where the story will end up from the first minute.

Both lead performances by Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep play out exactly as you’d expect, both strong and incredibly Hollywood without showing a tremendous amount of range. This is two established performers working squarely within their wheelhouse for a script that didn’t require a large amount of range or depth to either of them, but neither seem as though they are merely cashing a paycheck. All the acting here is solid, just as you would expect.

The phrase “going through the motions” comes to mind at this point, as Spielberg is such an incredibly established director that making a film like this is very routine. It’s a certain step up from Bridge of Spies, without reaching the heights of previous works. He clearly shot straight down the middle and reached those goals without any real huge missteps, leading to a film that’s a solid ‘good’ without ever feeling as though it made an effort to be more.

Weekend Report: ‘Jumanji’ Repeats, ‘The Post’ Succeeds

1193687 - JumanjiIn an unsurprising turn of events, Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle easily repeated in first place, while Fox’s nationwide expansion of The Post scored a solid if unspectacular second place debut. The trio of other new releases, however, failed to impress.

Jumanji topped Despicable Me 3 this weekend, becoming the 8th highest grossing film of 2017. The three day total was a strong $27M, with the four day holiday expected somewhere in the low $30M range. With this kind of consistent staying power, it’s almost a done deal that the comedy sequel will end up in the top 5 by the end of its run. With a budget of just $90M and a worldwide gross approaching $600M, every penny this is making from here on out is just pure money in the bank.

Fox once again proved that their strong suit is mid-budget adult dramas, as The Post landed in second place with $18M over the three day weekend, with the holiday expected to raise that number to around $22M. The journalism drama had already taken in around $4.5M from limited release starting on Christmas, which means its total by tomorrow should be around $27M. With a strong A Cinemascore and plenty of Oscar buzz, this one could potentially top the century mark, though a total in the mid $90M range seems more likely.

In third was Lionsgate’s The Commuter, which pulled in a mediocre $13.4M, not a wonderful start to the new partnership between Studio Canal and the aforementioned Lionsgate. The two will continue their partnership through the next several years, and also meant that Lionsgate was only on the hook for prints and advertising. If it doesn’t completely fall off this coming weekend, it could look for a total of around $35M, less than either of the Taken sequels made in their opening weekend.

Insidious hold surprisingly well in its second weekend, down 59% to $12.1M. That sounds like a lot, but considering Insidious 2 and 3 both fell over 65% in their second weekends, this is a minor win. The horror sequel cost just $10M to produce and will likely end up with around $65M total. The only horror competition it has to worry about is Winchester on February 2nd.

Two Christmas releases, The Greatest Showman and Pitch Perfect 3 both held very well, and have totals up to roughly $94.5M each, and should top the century mark by next weekend. The Last Jedi, on the other hand, continued to suffer harsh drops, down an additional 52.5% to $11M. For comparison, Rogue One was down just 39% over the three day weekend, while The Force Awakens dipped 38%.

Warner Brothers’ Paddington 2 floundered a bit in its release, taking in just $10M. That’s significantly lower than its predecessor, and is not good considering Warner spent $30M to acquire the film from The Weinstein Company, who were unable to release the film following last years controversy. They apparently spent around $30M on distribution rights, although the film racked up $125M from overseas, so there probably won’t be too great a loss here.

Sony’s action thriller Proud Mary floundered with just $10M for the three day weekend, below even my predictions going into the weekend (which were significantly lower than most other tracking). Reviews were poor, the release was quite small at 2,200 theaters, and the complete lack of marketing from Sony was a sign that they were just trying to bury this and cut their losses. Best case scenario from here is that it winds up with around $25M domestically.

In limited release, I, Tonya took in a solid $3.3M from 517 theaters. Neon will likely be expanding into nationwide release next weekend. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri expanded back into 1,022 theaters following a number of Golden Globe wins, and took in a decent $2.3M. The drama will be nearing $30M by the end of the holiday weekend, a number it should top before the Oscars on March 4th.

Phantom Thread expanded into 62 theaters and continued to see excellent numbers, with an $18K per theater average, leading to a weekend of $1.1M. What remains to be seen is whether or not a 140 minute drama about clothing can appeal to mainstream audiences.

Next weekend will see the nationwide releases of Warner Brothers’ 12 Strong, STX’s Den of ThievesForever My Girl, as well as the wide expansions of Hostiles and Phantom Thread.