Blogger’s Note (08/18/18): I am revising my estimate from $17.8 million down to $13.8 million
The Happytime Murders drops in theaters next weekend with a very simple concept to draw moviegoers in: Puppets Gone Wild! The very R-rated comic crime tale imagines a world where humans and puppets coexist. It comes from Brian Henson (son of Jim), who made the more family oriented Muppet pics The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island in the 1990s. Melissa McCarthy headlines the human cast along with Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, and Joel McHale. Bill Barretta is the puppet detective who used to work with McCarthy’s character.
The film’s tagline – “All Sesame, No Street” – resulted in a lawsuit from the makers of the long-running PBS program. As you could correctly guess from the red-band trailers, they had no involvement in this particular project.
Happytime should rise or fall at the box office based on audience curiosity in its gimmick. Finding reasonable comparisons for this is a tricky proposition. Two summers ago, the animated Sausage Party rode a wave of good buzz to a fantastic $34 million debut. However, this doesn’t seem to be generating similar chatter as of yet. If we want to go back in dirty puppet history, Team America: World Police earned just over $12 million in the fall of 2004.
The participation of McCarthy could help, but this is not the type of material her fans may typically rush to see. I’ll say Murders manages a debut in the mid to high teens and its word-of-mouth (positive or negative) will determine what transpires in the weeks following.
The Happytime Murders opening weekend prediction: $14.8 million
For my A.X.L. prediction, click here: