My box office predictions have been in a dormancy stage as chains struggle to obtain new product in these COVID times. It picks up again next weekend with the release of The War with Grandpa as uncertainty continues with the financial viability for theatrical releases.
This comedy starring Robert De Niro has had a checkered history even before the virus. Shot in 2017, it was originally scheduled for a 2018 debut. However, its original distributor was The Weinstein Company and the release was shelved due to the high profile legal troubles of its founder. 101 Studios eventually picked it up and here we are.
Tim Hill directs and he’s mostly known for kid friendly and animated fare such as Alvin and the Chipmunks and this year’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run. Costars include Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley, Cheech Marin, and Jane Seymour.
When Tenet underperformed stateside in July, it set off a wave of delays. That includes just this week as No Time to Die experienced another push (this time to Easter 2021). Simply put, audiences have yet to develop a comfort level with a return to multiplexes.
Don’t look for Grandpa to change that. The film’s trailer was greeted with some eye rolling as this looks like a return to De Niro comedic mediocrity (just months after a more acclaimed turn in The Irishman). The Coronavirus questions persist: how many venues will this actually play in? This is even more of an issue now that Regal Cinemas has announced the closure of over 500 theaters. Amidst all of this, I believe Grandpa will struggle to hit $2 million for a quiet start.
The War with Grandpa opening weekend prediction: $1.9 million
Reteaming with his same cowriter and director from the two A Haunted House pics from 2013 and 2014, Marlon Wayans is back in spoof territory with Fifty Shades of Black, out next weekend. In case you couldn’t tell, the timely sendup satirizes last year’s smash hit Fifty Shades of Grey, which debuted to $85 million over Valentine’s Day 2015. Kali Hawk, Mike Epps, Jane Seymour, and Fred Williard costar.
Three years ago in January, the aforementioned A Haunted House surprised predictors with an $18.1 million debut and a $40 million overall gross. Its 2014 sequel didn’t fare nearly as well with just an $8.8 opening and $17 million eventual take. What could assist Black is the timeliness of the film it’s making fun of.
Still, I’m not convinced that means it tops what Marlon and company did with the first House. I’ll project that Black debuts in the mid teens before what should likely be a quick fadeout.
Fifty Shades of Black opening weekend prediction: $16 million
23 years ago Today in Movie History – February 15 – Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs debuted in theaters and would earn its reputation as one of the greatest thrillers of all time. The picture would take in $13.7 million in its debut weekend and eventually earn $130 million domestically. Oscar voters would shower Lambs the following year with Best Picture, Director, Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Actress (Jodie Foster). Even though he was only onscreen for 16 minutes, Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lecter would represent one of the most memorable screen villains in history. Sequels would follow years later with Hannibal, Red Dragon, and Hannibal Rising.
As for birthdays, today would have marked Chris Farley’s big 5-0. The performer had a fantastic run on “Saturday Night Live” before translating his stardom into film with Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and Beverly Hills Ninja. Farley died of a drug overdose in 1997.
Jane Seymour is 63 today. Known more for her extensive TV credits, she was a Bond girl alongside Roger Moore in 1973’s Live and Let Die. More recently she was Christopher Walken’s excitable wife in the 2005 hit comedy Wedding Crashers.
As for Six Degrees of Separation between them:
Chris Farley was in Wayne’s World 2 with Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken was in Wedding Crashers with Jane Seymour
And that’s today – February 15 – in Movie History!