Warner Bros is hoping to show a force of box office strength when 12 Strong debuts in theaters next Friday. Subtitled The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, the action drama recounts the true story of the first fighters sent overseas immediately following the 9/11 attacks. Marking the directorial debut of former war photojournalist Nicolai Fuglsig, the cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Trevante Rhodes, William Fichtner, and Rob Riggle.
Over the last few years, January has proven to be fertile ground for similarly themed pics. In 2014, Lone Survivor debuted to a terrific $37 million. Two years ago, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi took in a little over $19 million out of the gate, though it opened over the four-day MLK frame. The pinnacle of the genre (and openings for the month of January overall) was in 2015 when American Sniper astonished prognosticators with $107 million for its four-day MLK weekend premiere.
As you can see, it isn’t rare to see these true life war tales perform quite nicely with moviegoers. Hemsworth brings some star power and he’s just coming off the franchise best performance of his Thor series.
That said, expectations are certainly more in line with Benghazi and not Survivor and definitely not Sniper. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a debut slightly over $20 million, but I’ll estimate Strong takes in high teens for its start.
12 Strong opening weekend prediction: $17.9 million
For my Den of Thieves prediction, click here: