Box Office Predictions: March 23-25

We have a quintet of pictures entering the marketplace this weekend and it may mean Black Panther is dethroned after five weeks atop the charts. They are: sci-fi sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, animated sequel Sherlock Gnomes, Biblical drama Paul, Apostle of Christ, YA romance Midnight Sun, and psychological thriller Unsane. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on all of them here:

Even though I have the Pacific follow-up generating less coin than its 2013 predecessor, its haul should be enough to have it rise to the top. That said, Black Panther has continually defied expectations and held off other high-profile titles such as A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider from getting to first place.

Sherlock Gnomes is a question mark in my view. Its predecessor – 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet – had a solid $25 million opening, but that was seven long years ago. My lower teens estimate may nab it a third place showing.

If Sherlock fails to meet expectations, it could allow Tomb Raider or I Could Only Imagine to place third. The second weekend of Imagine should particularly be interesting to watch as it significantly topped all expectations and could be set for a small drop based on word-of-mouth. Raider, on the other hand, should lose arouns half its audience after a disappointing start.

Paul, Apostle of Christ is slated to open on only about 1400 screens and my $5.5 million estimate for it puts it outside the top 5. I also expect the other two newbies to debut weakly with Midnight Sun predicted at $4 million and Unsane at $3.9 million.

And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend ahead:

1. Pacific Rim Uprising

Predicted Gross: $23.4 million

2. Black Panther

Predicted Gross: $17.9 million

3. Sherlock Gnomes

Predicted Gross: $13.7 million

4. I Can Only Imagine

Predicted Gross: $13 million

5. Tomb Raider

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

Box Office Results (March 16-18)

Black Panther held off Lara Croft and was #1 for the fifth consecutive weekend. It’s the first picture to accomplish that feat since Avatar eight years ago. The Marvel behemoth grossed $26.6 million (in line with my $25.7 million projection) to bring its total to $605 million. It currently sits at 7th on the all-time domestic earners list and this coming weekend, it should supplant The Avengers at #5 to become the highest grossing comic book adaptation ever in the United States.

Tomb Raider had to settle for the runner-up position with $23.6 million, shy of my $26.4 million prediction. The franchise reboot got off to a shaky start and future sequels appear questionable at best.

The box office story of the weekend was faith-based musical drama I Can Only Imagine, which astonished predictors like me with a third place opening of $17.1 million. I was, um, a bit lower at $5.4 million. Imagine has clearly captivated Christian audiences and it posted the largest per screen average of any pic in the top 10. With the Easter holiday approaching, it could be in for a bountiful road ahead.

A Wrinkle in Time dropped to fourth with $16.2 million (I said $16.4 million) in weekend #2, bringing its lackluster tally to $60 million. At this point, it appears questionable that it will reach $100 million domestically.

Love, Simon took the five spot with $11.7 million, a bit under my $13.3 million estimate. The coming-of-age drama did receive positive reviews and audience word-of-mouth is strong, so it could experience small declines in coming weekends.

I incorrectly had Game Night at #5 until Imagine upended that, but it grossed $5.6 million for sixth. My prediction? $5.6 million!

Finally, 7 Days in Entebbe failed to bring in an audience, debuting in 13th place with $1.5 million. On the bright side (?), it did top my $972,000 forecast.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

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