The true story of the sexual harassment claims took down Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is dropped in theaters next weekend with the release of Bombshell. Jay Roach directs Charlize Theron in the role of Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson. The supporting cast includes Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, and John Lithgow as Ailes.
Bombshell, just today, was a surprise multiple nominee for the SAG Awards. It garnered four nods – Ensemble and the performances of Theron, Kidman, and Robbie. Whether or not Oscar nods follow remains to be seen, but it’s certainly in the mix. That buzz should help it gather some eyeballs, but it could experience a gradual rollout like many adult oriented holiday titles do.
The film opens directly against Cats, which will be going for much of the same demographic. There’s also Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which appeals to pretty much everyone. I believe this will be lucky to reach $10 million for its start. Yet this stands a solid chance at legging out positively in the weekends ahead.
Bombshell opening weekend prediction: $8.3 million
For my Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prediction, click here:
One of the longest running Broadway musicals of all time gets the big budget screen treatment next weekend with the unleashing of Cats. The rendering of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work comes from the Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, who also made the Les Miserables adaptation in 2012. Performers donning the fur include James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Howard.
When the Cats trailer was posted a few months back, it was greeted with a certain amount of derision. Even with that negative buzz and a review embargo that doesn’t lapse until right before its release, these musicals with hefty price tags have shown their muscle before during the holiday season.
In 2017, The Greatest Showman was met with mixed reviews. Its $8.8 million opening on the same pre Christmas weekend was a disappointment, but it legged out to an amazing $174 million domestically. Five years back, Into the Woods took in a joyous $45 million over its extended Christmas rollout.
This is not expected to reach the highs of Woods or lows of Showman out of the gate. Competition is fierce with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premiering on the same day. That said, Universal Pictures has perhaps smartly scheduled this as counter programming for female and older crowds. On the other hand, Bombshell (also out next Friday) is searching for the same audience.
I believe this manages a mid to possibly high teens haul for starters as it hopes for positive word-of-mouth afterwards and nine lives of profitability in subsequent frames.
Cats opening weekend prediction: $16.8 million
For my Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prediction, click here:
The ninth episode in the galaxy is not far, far away as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in a theater near you next weekend. Capping the third trilogy of the landmark franchise, the film finds J.J. Abrams returning to the director’s chair after Rian Johnson (currently having his own box office hit with Knives Out) handled duties on previous entry The Last Jedi in 2017. The familiar faces introduced four years ago in The Force Awakens return with Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac headlining. Stars from the original trilogy are back including Carrie Fisher (via unreleased footage from previous efforts), Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and two cast members making their respective first appearances since 1983’s Return of the Jedi and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith – Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine. Other notable performers returning include Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Kelly Marie Tran. Newcomers to the series are Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, and Richard E. Grant.
Disney took over the reigns of George Lucas’s creation a few years back and the results have been billions more into the Mouse Factory’s considerable coffers. That said, the last two years have shown some chinks in the once impenetrable armor. The aforementioned Last Jedi divided audiences and critics and came in $300 million under Awakens. A few months later in May of 2018, prequel and spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story was the first picture in the series that was a genuine disappointment and actually lost money.
In Star Wars world, “disappointing” numbers are relative. The Last Jedi took in $220 million for its start on this same weekend two years ago, ending its run at $620 million domestically (that’s still good for #9 all-time). Yet, as mentioned, that’s considerably below the $936 million that Awakens achieved. It continues to stand at #1 overall in terms of stateside dollars.
Estimates for Skywalker show a pretty wide range. Some are as low as $175 million. Only in this franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe would that number be called low. Despite the mixed Jedi reaction and Solo grosses, I have a hard time buying that this last entry of the trilogy could come in with $45 million less than its predecessor.
The more reasonable anticipation is that this manages to top $200 million. There is certainly more serious family competition than Last Jedi had with Jumanji: The Next Level being in its second frame (it was the inverse in 2017 with predecessor Welcome to the Jungle arriving the week after Jedi).
My projection here gives Skywalker the seventh biggest debut ever, in between MCU titles The Avengers and Black Panther.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opening weekend prediction: $206.4 million
The holiday titles begin to roll in this weekend as family adventure sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, horror remake Black Christmas, and Clint Eastwood’s true life drama Richard Jewell debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on that trio here:
There’s no doubt that Jumanji will end the three-week reign of Frozen II atop the charts. The 2017 predecessor became a phenomenon for Sony and eventually legged out to become the studio’s highest domestic earner of all time. Estimates have the inevitable sequel making between $40-$50 million out of the gate and I have it on the higher end of that range. Level hopes to earn a nice chunk of cash right away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on deck next weekend.
As for the other newbies, Christmas and Jewell could be in a close race for #3. Horror titles always have the opportunity to exceed expectations, but I’ll give Christmas low teens and Eastwood’s latest just under that.
With a mid 40s dip, Frozen II should fall to second with Knives Out rounding out the top five.
And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:
1. Jumanji: The Next Level
Predicted Gross: $48.7 million
2. Frozen II
Predicted Gross: $18.9 million
3. Black Christmas
Predicted Gross: $12.1 million
4. Richard Jewell
Predicted Gross: $11 million
5. Knives Out
Predicted Gross: $8.8 million
Box Office Results (December 6-8)
Per usual, it was a rather quiet post Thanksgiving frame as Frozen II easily held the top spot for the third time. The Disney sequel took in $35.1 million, falling a bit more than my $41.3 million projection. Its tally is up to $338 million.
Knives Out stayed put in second with $14.2 million, not matching my $16.4 million estimate for a two-week take of $63 million.
Ford v Ferrari was third with $6.6 million (I said $7.5 million) as it nears the century mark with $91 million.
Queen & Slim also made $6.6 million (I said $6.7 million) in its sophomore frame for a $27 million total.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was fifth and it’s not experiencing the minor declines that many (myself included) anticipated. It made $5.2 million compared to my $7.2 million forecast for an unimpressive $43 million.
The Mark Ruffalo drama Dark Waters expanded wide and was sixth with $3.9 million, on pace with my $3.7 million prediction. Total is $5 million.
Last and most certainly least, critically drubbed animated effort Playmobil: The Movie was an absolute disaster. Opening in 14th place, it made $656,000. I was far more generous at $2.8 million. For those keeping score, that’s a $281 per theater average.
Clint Eastwood continues to churn out film after film and his latest, Richard Jewell, keeps with his recent theme of fact based dramas recounting events of the past quarter century. Paul Walter Hauser (memorable in supporting roles in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) stars in the title role of the security guard falsely accused of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Costars include Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Wilde.
Jewell looks to bring in an adult audience amidst Christmas fare geared towards family crowds. With Eastwood at the helm, it could succeed. The director’s previous work, The Mule, debuted over the same mid December weekend last year to $17.5 million. Critics are mostly on his side here with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 88% and some awards chatter.
That said, I don’t believe Jewell will nab Mule numbers right away (it helped that Eastwood starred in the latter). This will hope to leg out as many grownup dramas do over subsequent holiday weekends. For its start, I believe low double digits to possibly low teens sounds about right.
Richard Jewell opening weekend prediction: $11 million
For my Jumanji: The Next Level prediction, click here:
Blumhouse Productions looks to scare up some Yuletide bucks this season with Black Christmas, the second remake of the 1974 slasher cult hit. Shot for a reported miserly $5 million (par for the course for its low cost and high profit studio), Sophia Takal directs with a cast including Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady, and Cary Elwes.
Turning a tidy profit should be no trouble for the horror title. This genre is rather underserved at the moment and one would think this should at least double its budget out of the gate. That said, the 2006 Black Christmas rustled up only $16 million in its whole domestic run.
With the Blumhouse marketing machine behind this one, however, I expect Christmas to get past double digits for a solid start, especially considering the budget.
Black Christmas opening weekend prediction: $12.1 million
For my Jumanji: The Next Level prediction, click here:
One of the biggest box office successes of 2017 was that of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the reboot of the 1995 Robin Williams family adventure. Considered to be a bit of a gamble at the time, Jungle ended up developing amazing legs at multiplexes and grossing just over $400 million domestically. In doing so, it edged out Spider-Man as Sony’s highest grossing stateside effort.
The inevitable sequel finds Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Se’Darious Blain, and Madison Iseman reprising their roles. Newcomers to the game include Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, and Awkwafina. Jake Kasdan returns to the director’s chair.
Before Jungle went on its moneymaking run, it opened at #2 to the sophomore frame of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It opened over the long Christmas frame two years ago on a Wednesday, earning $36 million over the traditional Friday to Sunday portion with a six-day holiday haul of nearly $72 million.
In 2019, The Next Level gets the jump on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by a week. And while this hopes to develop minor week to week drops like its predecessor, the sequel looks to make more than mid to high 30s out of the gate for the regular weekend.
Some estimates put this at around $40 million while others have it inching towards $50 million or possibly a bit more. I’ll say a gross in the high 40s is my range as this hopes for positive word-of-mouth and smooth sailing ahead like Jungle before it.
Jumanji: The Next Level opening weekend prediction: $48.7 million