Blumhouse looks to continue its impressive streak of low-budget slasher pics that turn hefty profits with the release of sequel HappyDeathDay2U next Wednesday. Christopher Landon is back in the director’s chair along with returning cast members Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Ruby Modine, in addition to LifeofPi star Suraj Sharma.
In October 2017, HappyDeathDay took its GroundhogDay meets the horror genre to solid box office results. It made $26 million for the opening weekend as its overall haul was front loaded (final gross was $55 million).
Part 2 might premiere with less for the traditional weekend, but the Wednesday debut and following four-day President’s Day frame could boost the six-day to a high 20s overall take.
HappyDeathDay2U opening weekend prediction: $22 million (Friday to Monday); $28.6 million (Wednesday to Monday)
Set in a Halloween theme park, the horror flick HellFest will attempt to bring in genre fans next weekend. It’s directed by Gregory Plotkin, who’s known more for his work as an editor (GetOut, HappyDeathDay). He did make ParanormalActivity: TheGhostDimension. The cast includes Amy Forsyth, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, and Tony Todd (otherwise known as Candyman from that franchise).
HellFest debuts in the middle of considerably more high-profile fright fests TheNun and Halloween. Opening on approximately 2200 screens, awareness seems rather low. That said, horror fans can sometimes cause larger than expected grosses.
I’m not seeing it here. I’ll project a mid to maybe high single digits premiere.
Blumhouse Productions is out with its latest low-budget flick that hopes to generate high dollar figures when Upgrade debuts next weekend. The sci-fi horror revenge pic comes from director Leigh Whannell, best known for his involvement in the Insidious franchise (including directing its third chapter). Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel (best known as the creepy housekeeper in Get Out), and Harrison Gilbertson are among the cast. Early reviews have been decent as it currently stands at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Upgrade is slated to open on a rather low 1400 screens and that will limit its potential. I would not anticipate this coming anywhere near the massive successes that Jason Blum and his studio have achieved with titles like the aforementioned Get Out, Split, or Happy Death Day. Instead it appears destined to premiere similar to BH Tilt’s lesser offerings like The Belko Experiment, The Green Inferno, or Incarnate – none of which managed to clear $5 million for their starts.
Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures are hopeful horror fans will be game for TruthorDare next weekend. Debuting on Friday the 13th, the film puts a scary spin on the time honored contest that we all familiarized ourselves with in our teens. That’s the target audience that it wishes to reach. Jeff Wadlow, who directed Kick–Ass2, is behind the camera with a cast including Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, and Landon Liboiron.
Originally scheduled to premiere on April 27, the pic wisely moved off that weekend when Iron Man, Black Panther, and other Avengers claimed it. However, the current release date poses its own problems as fellow genre title AQuietPlace will be in its sophomore frame and likely still making noise.
That said, Blumhouse has a knack for turning low-budget fright fests into hits. They’ve just come off a banner 2017 that included Split, GetOut, and HappyDeathDay. I don’t, however, feel TruthorDare will manage that trio’s grosses. I’ll estimate a debut in the mid teens range.
TruthorDare opening weekend prediction: $16.7 million
HappyDeathDay begins with a universal disruption. Not the world suffering a catastrophe or anything of that sort, but the actual Universal logo repeating itself three times. It’s a signal of events to come in this horror version of GroundhogDay from the Blumhouse studio, which specializes in bargain basement budgeted genre pics.
The world as a whole may not be experiencing a crisis, but college student Tree (Jessica Rothe) sure is. Her birthday begins as many do for undergraduates. She wakes up in the dorm room of Carter (Israel Broussard) after a drunken night out. Not remembering the previous evening’s events, Tree makes a hasty exit complete with shame walking. She attends class where we learn she’s carrying on an affair with her professor. Tree doesn’t really gel with her sorority sisters, including her kindly roommate (Ruby Modine).
In fact, unlike most of the heroines in slasher flicks, Tree is a pretty unpleasant person. And she’s not that innocent. So I’ll give a bit of credit to screenwriter Scott Lobdell for changing that up, even if it makes her a smidge tougher to root for. When Tree goes out for another night of frivolity, she’s stalked and stabbed by a figure donning the mask of the university’s mascot.
And then… she wakes up on her birthday again nursing a hangover in Carter’s dorm room. Unlike Bill Murray rising to the sounds of Sonny and Cher, she repeats her day less than 20 times as she tries to figure out who’s knocking her off. Along the way, we learn some of the root causes of her unpleasantness. She’s mourning the loss of her mom for one. That death factors into the mix.
HappyDeathDay has a sense of humor, which is often a good thing. GroundhogDay is mentioned as it would seem foolish not to (the title has become synonymous with anything repeating itself). Rothe is convincing as the bratty coed. Director Christopher B. Landon employs a handful of effective jump scares. The 90 minute runtime is a wise choice as the concept may not be able to sustain much more.
This is an easy and brisk watch. The PG-13 rating decision is a curious one and this may have been better served with more of the gore and aforementioned frivolity actually on display. HappyDeathDay probably won’t stick in your memory for long, but it’s not a complete disruption of your time.
As 2018 is nearly upon us, today begins an exploration on what and who made a lasting impression on film in 2017. And it does start with a what – in this case, a studio.
Blumhouse Productions, founded by Jason Blum, kicked off in 2009 with found footage hit ParanormalActivity. It was a massive money maker that spawned numerous sequels. From then on, Blumhouse became known for their low-budget horror flicks. This includes the Insidious, Ouija, Purge, and Sinister franchises.
Yet 2017 has marked their banner year. This started immediately in January with M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback pic Split, which debuted to $40 million and earned $138 million overall domestically. Shyamalan will be working with the studio once again with its spin-off/sequel Glass, due in 2019.
The success kept going in February with the release of Jordan Peele’s GetOut. Earning $33 million out of the gate, the acclaimed horror comedy went on to make $175 million. It’s even garnering Oscar buzz, something rare for Blumhouse (a notable exception was 2014’s Whiplash).
In the fall, HappyDeathDay premiered to $26 million and $55 million total. Not all of the studio’s offerings landed with audiences this year, including TheBelkoExperiment, BirthoftheDragon, and Sleight.
Still, there’s little doubt 2017 has offered Blumhouse its most high-profile successes. 2018 will look to replicate the wins with new Purge and Insidious editions and a reboot of the Halloween franchise.
My look back on the winners in 2017 onscreen will continue…
The month of November looks to awaken a sleepy box office with the release of two high-profile sequels: Marvel’s threequel Thor: Ragnarok and comedic follow-up A Bad Moms Christmas. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on each here:
As I see it, Ragnarok is likely to be the first pic in the Thor franchise that reaches over $100 million in its first weekend. With very positive reviews and a strong international debut over the weekend, all the signs are there.
A Bad Moms Christmas opens on Wednesday to give it some breathing room from the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut and I have it earning mid 20s for the five-day and high teens for the traditional three-day.
The rest of the top five should see low grosses from holdovers. Jigsaw had a mediocre debut atop the charts over Halloween weekend (more on that below) and looks to suffer a large decline in its sophomore frame. Boo 2! and Geostorm (or perhaps even Happy Death Day if Geostorm has a large enough decline) should fill the rest of the slots.
And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend:
1. Thor: Ragnarok
Predicted Gross: $107.6 million
2. A Bad Moms Christmas
Predicted Gross: $18.7 million (Friday to Sunday), $26.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million (representing a drop of 64%)
4. Boo 2! A Madea Halloween
Predicted Gross: $4.1 million (representing a drop of 59%)
Predicted Gross: $2.7 million (representing a drop of 55%)
Box Office Results (October 27-29)
It was expected to be a slow weekend and it certainly was that with the #1 movie doing just OK and other newbies performing even worse. Jigsaw managed a #1 debut with $16.6 million (a bit ahead of my $14.8 million prediction). That’s the second lowest of the eight features in the Saw franchise.
Boo 2! A Madea Halloween dropped to second with $10 million (I went higher at $12.2 million) to bring its two-week tally to $35 million.
Geostorm was third with $5.9 million (I said $5.4 million) to bring its lackluster total to $23 million.
Happy Death Day was fourth with $5 million and I incorrectly had it outside the top 5. The low-budget Blumhouse horror pic brought its solid total to $48 million.
I also whiffed on having Blade Runner 2049 outside the top 5 (thanks under performing newcomers). It earned $4.1 million for an overall gross of $81 million.
Thank You for Your Service, the Miles Teller war drama, underwhelmed in sixth place with $3.8 million, under my $5.4 million forecast. Mostly solid reviews couldn’t get audiences interested enough in this case.
Last (and certainly least in this case), Suburbicon was an absolute disaster, opening in 9th place with just $2.8 million. I was considerably higher at $7.3M. George Clooney’s poorly reviewed crime comedy with Matt Damon stands as one of the worst wide performers of the year.