Next weekend, moviegoers are treated to a biopic of the legendary and reclusive Guns N’ Roses lead singer with the release of A.X.L.! OK… not so much. On the contrary, this family adventure is a tale of a young man and his robot dog. Oliver Daly directs based on a short film he made and funds were reached for a feature film through a Kickstarter campaign. Alex Neustaedter, Becky G, Dominic Rains, and Thomas Jane are among the cast.
I must admit I’ve been rather surprised by the amount of TV ads I’ve seen for this. That said, with a pretty low theater count around 1700, I don’t expect much here at all. Family audiences have had plenty to feast on this summer and I don’t see them having much of an appetite for this.
A.X.L. opening weekend prediction: $2.1 million
For my The Happytime Murders prediction, click here:
Following a buzz worthy premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, thriller Searching debuts next weekend. The pic casts John Cho (Harold from Harold and Kumar, Sulu from the Star Trek franchise) as a father whose daughter goes missing. What makes this unique is that the film takes place almost entirely on a computer screen as he frantically attempts to locate her. Debra Messing, Michelle La, and Sara Sohn costar. Aneesh Chaganty directs.
When Searching played at Sundance in January, it did so to solid critical notices and it stands at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Slated to open on around 2000 screens, I could see this having a decent start in the low double digits with the possibility of legging out solidly based on word-of-mouth.
Searching opening weekend prediction: $10.7 million
For my The Happytime Murders prediction, click here:
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: $17.8 million
Blogger’s Note (08/14/18): On the eve of its opening, I’m upgrading my CrazyRichAsians estimate to low 20s and mid 30s for the three and five-day. That now gives it the #1 spot.
A trio of newcomers attempt to bite into the unexpected huge performance of TheMeg and it keep it from a second frame atop the charts. We have critically acclaimed rom com CrazyRichAsians, Mark Wahlberg’s action thriller Mile22, and Ice Age adventure Alpha. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
Let’s start with the low hanging fruit. I don’t expect much from Alpha at all and my $5.2 million projection leaves it outside of the top five.
Even if The Meg falls over 50% in its second frame, it could still maintain the top spot with a gross in the low 20s.
However, that’s if Crazy Rich Asians doesn’t manage those numbers. My estimate has steadily risen, but its Wednesday opening could prevent it from hitting #1 (I’ve got it awfully close). Mile 22 should place third in the mid teens for a so-so start.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout should drop to fourth. The five-spot could be interesting as I have Christopher Robin and BlacKkKlansman grossing roughly the same amount.
And with that, here’s my top 6 projections for the weekend ahead:
Predicted Gross: $22.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $33.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
2. The Meg
Predicted Gross: $20.3 million
3. Mile 22
Predicted Gross: $16.7 million
4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Predicted Gross: $11 million
5. Christopher Robin
Predicted Gross: $7.4 million
Predicted Gross: $7.1 million
Box Office Results (August 10-12)
The Meg turned out to have the quite the mega opening stateside with $45.4 million, doubling (yes DOUBLING) my meager $22.7 million estimate. Never bet against sharks apparently. The shark tale performed well overseas as well, which was needed considering its reported $150 million plus budget.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout was runner-up with $19.3 million (a tad below my $21.3 million prediction) for $161 million in its three weeks of release.
Christopher Robin was third with $12.9 million compared to my $13.8 million estimate. The Disney pic has made $50 million in two weeks.
Critically reviled horror flick Slender Man was fourth, debuting to $11.3 million (a couple notches above my take of $9.1 million). Look for it (with a D- Cinemascore grade) to fade quickly.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, with terrific reviews and awards buzz, started out strong on just over 1500 screens in fifth with $10.8 million (I said $9.6 million).
Finally, Dog Days premiered to totally unimpressive numbers in just 12th place with $2.5 million. I gave it way too much credit at $5.1 million. Woof.
The historical adventure Alpha debuts in theaters next weekend and it could face an uphill battle for eyeballs. The Ice Age set pic doesn’t have the benefit of animated creatures or much buzz at all. Albert Hughes directs and he’s most known for collaborations with his brother Allen including MenaceIISociety, FromHell, and TheBookofEli. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Leonor Varela, Jens Hulten, and a wolf headline the cast.
Alpha has experienced a shifting release date and Columbia Pictures finally settled on the mid August slot. It was originally scheduled for last September, back to March of this year, then September 2018, and lastly the August push-up. That doesn’t inspire much confidence.
I’ll predict this opens well behind its competition Mile22 and CrazyRichAsians and doesn’t manage double digits. In short, Alpha is looking like a dog.
Blogger’s Note II (08/14/18): My estimate is rising once again and I’m going with $22.5 million for the three-day and $33.4 million for the five-day.
Blogger’s Note (08/10/18): I am ramping up my estimate for this based on buzz from $14.2M to $19.4M for the traditional weekend and high 20s for the five-day.
In what could turn out to be some smart counter programming, romantic comedy CrazyRichAsians opens next Wednesday. The Warner Bros release is, rather shockingly, the first stateside studio effort in a quarter century (1993’s TheJoyLuckClub) to feature a predominately Asian-American cast. It’s based on a 2013 bestseller by Kevin Kwan. The cast includes Henry Golding, Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Nico Santos, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh. Jon M. Chu, who made JustinBieber: NeverSayNever and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, directs.
The film seems to be garnering some positive buzz and it could bring out a female audience, as well as a community clearly underrepresented at multiplexes. Even with that breakout potential, the Wednesday opening probably means it’ll debut behind Mile22 with Mark Wahlberg.
I will estimate a traditional weekend opening in the low teens and that could mean a gross close to $20 million for the five-day total.
CrazyRichAsians opening weekend prediction: $22.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $33.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Mark Wahlberg is back in action mode and reuniting with director Peter Berg next weekend in Mile 22. The action thriller finds the star as the head of an elite CIA unit and the supporting cast includes John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey, and Lee Chae Rin.
This is the fourth Wahlberg/Berg collaboration and it’s the first not based on real life events after Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day. Distributor STXfilms is hoping this will be the start of a new franchise with a TV series and sequel reportedly in development.
That, of course, could all depend on how this performs. The budget is only $35 million, which is quite low for a summer action release. Looking at other similar material from Wahlberg, Mile 22 would love to achieve the $24 million earned by something like 2012’s Contraband. Yet it could debut with something closer to the $14 million made by 2007’s Shooter. The $27 million made out of the gate five summers ago by 2 Guns is a reach in my opinion… that had the Denzel factor.
I’ll say a mid to high teens gross is the most likely scenario, meaning Mile won’t achieve the marker contained in its title.