Blogger’s Update (05/12): Revising my prediction down to $6.5 million
Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novel and a reworking of the 1984 film adaptation starring a young Drew Barrymore, Firestarter hopes to heat up multiplexes on Friday the 13th. Ryan Kiera Armstrong fills Barrymore’s original role as a pyrokinetic kid with Zac Efron, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, and Gloria Reuben among the cast. Keith Thomas directs.
Coming from the Blumhouse label which has produced plenty of horror hits, this will be released simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock, which is still finding its way in the streaming universe. The first Firestarter 38 years ago was not a hot property at the box office as it grossed $17 million. It’s also fair to say that it isn’t considered a genre classic like other King penned cinematic properties.
Horror pics are dangerous to underestimate, but my hunch is that Firestarter may not reach $13 million. The worst case scenario could be a start in the high double digits, but I’ll say it gets a bit beyond that.
Firestarter opening weekend prediction: $6.5 million
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A slasher version of Freaky Friday comes from the Blumhouse shop with the release of Freaky next weekend. The low budget horror flick features a high school senior (Kathryn Newton) who switches bodies with a serial killer (Vince Vaughn). Christopher Landon (who made Happy Death Day and its sequel) directs and costars include Katie Finneran and Alan Ruck.
Shot for a reported $5 million, its studio has often excelled at turning a tidy profit for its ventures. Early reviews are encouraging with an 87% Rotten Tomatoes rating with particular praise for its two leads. The theatrical window here is unique as it opens on Friday on the 13th and will be available for streaming just three weeks later in early December.
The solid critical reaction and Blumhouse’s marketing talents could push Freaky to make its budget back in the initial weekend. I’ll project that it will.
After being pushed back several months due to its violent subject matter, Blumhouse’s thriller The Hunt debuts next weekend. Based loosely on the nearly century old story “The Most Dangerous Game”, the pic comes from director Craig Zobel. The cast includes Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank, and Justin Hartley.
As is the case with most Blumhouse Productions, this is a low budget venture with a reported price tag of $15 million. Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost, HBO’s Watchmen, and numerous film scripts, has cowriting credit.
The satiric tale was originally scheduled for September of last year before being delayed following the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. The Friday the 13th reschedule could manage to capitalize on its past publicity, but I question whether it will. I believe The Hunt may not achieve double digits for its start.
The latest low-budget concoction from Blumhouse Productions is Fantasy Island, a horror themed take on the kitschy 1970s TV series. Opening over the four-day Presidents Day weekend, Jeff Wadlow (who recently teamed with Blumhouse on Truth or Dare) directs with a cast including Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, and Michael Rooker.
Shot for a reported tiny $7 million, the pic will attempt to bring in youngsters without much reference point for the source material. That said, this particular production shop is savvy about getting an audience and turning a handsome profit. Nearly two years back, Truth debuted to nearly $19 million against its $3 million budget.
The gargantuan profit return may not be quite as pronounced here, but still substantial. For the Friday to Monday frame, I’ll say Island manages low double digits.
Fantasy Island opening weekend prediction: $11.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
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
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Blumhouse Productions hopes to have a sleeper hit on their hands over Labor Day weekend with Don’tLetGo. The supernatural thriller finds David Oyelowo attempting to retroactively prevent the death of loved ones. Jacob Aaron Estes directs with a supporting cast including Storm Reid, Bryon Mann, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, and Brian Tyree Henry.
The pic premiered eight months ago at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reaction. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is at 47%. That’s not a great number to generate buzz and Go appears to be lacking it. While it’s a little risky to underestimate Blumhouse, the Labor Day release date isn’t exactly a vote of confidence.
I’ll say this doesn’t manage to achieve double digits over the four day holiday weekend. Mid single digits is possibly where this goes.
Don’tLetGo opening weekend prediction: $4.5 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
Blogger’s Note (10/12/18): A week before its premiere, I’m revising my estimate up from $67.2 million to $75.4 million
Next weekend, the latest Halloween entry arrives in theaters and this one does so with a twist. While this is the 11th installment in the 40-year-old franchise, it ignores everything that happened in parts 2-10 and serves as a direct sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter classic. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode with Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers) donning the mask once again. David Gordon Green, known for pics as varied as Pineapple Express and last year’s Boston Marathon drama Stronger, directs and is co-writer along with comedic actor Danny McBride. Blumhouse Productions is behind this and they have proven themselves as masters of making low-budget horror flicks hugely profitable ventures (the price tag is only a reported $10 million). Costars include Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, and Will Patton.
This is actually Curtis’s fifth time playing her iconic character when including Halloween II, 1998’s Halloween: H20, and Halloween: Resurrection. Just pay no mind to anything that happened to her in those follow-ups. The release date timed for the actual holiday and the return of the series best known player has created some serious buzz. So did its screening at the Toronto Film Festival where it premiered to solid reviews (Rotten Tomatoes is currently at 85%).
Add all that up and Halloween appears primed to scare up big business. The current record holder for biggest horror debut of all time belongs to last year’s It at $123 million and that mark seems unattainable. However, this seems poised to top 2018’s The Nun, which premiered with $53 million. I believe a mid 70s gross is where Laurie and Michael will stake their claim, which would give it the second highest October debut behind Venom.
Halloween opening weekend prediction: $75.4 million
***Blogger’s Note II (08/09/18): My estimate is once again increasing – from $7.6M to $9.6M
**Blogger’s Note (08/08/18): I have revised my estimate from $5.6M up to $7.6M
The latest Spike Lee joint is the first in a while that comes with Oscar buzz and widespread critical acclaim when BlacKkKlansman debuts next weekend. The true life crime flick about an African-American detective infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was instantly a highlight. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 96%.
The cast includes John David Washington (son of Denzel), Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Corey Hawkins, Paul Walter Hauser, and Harry Belafonte. Jason Blum and Jordan Peele serve as producers. The awards buzz could give this a shot at performing decently as it opens on approximately 1500 screens.
One comp that BlacKkKlansman might want to avoid is Detroit, which opened around the same time last year to disappointing results. That pic made $7.1 million in its first wide release frame on about twice as many screens.
This seems to garnering more buzz, however. I’ll say Mr. Lee’s latest manages between $5-6 million.
BlacKkKlansman opening weekend prediction: $9.6 million
Blogger’s Note (07/13): Today the expected theater count of only 1500 was released for Unfriended: Dark Web. This alters my estimate from $8.1 million all the way down to $5.1 million.
Found footage horror sequel Unfriended: Dark Web is uploaded into theaters next Friday in a weekend filled with other high-profile sequels. From Blumhouse, a production company that specializes in turning low-budget genre fare into profitable hits, this is the follow-up to the 2015 effort that became a sizable performer. The original debuted to over $15 million and ended up with just over $32 million domestically. If that doesn’t automatically sound like cause for a sequel, keep in mind that part 1 was reportedly made for only $1 million.
Stephen Susco, best known for writing The Grudge and its part 2, makes his directorial debut. The stand-alone sequel’s cast includes Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel (best known as the creepy housekeeper in Get Out), and Rebecca Rittenhouse. Of the three sequels coming out next weekend, Dark Web will surely rank third behind Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and The Equalizer 2.
I also don’t expect it to pull the numbers of its predecessor and it will likely struggle to earn double digits out of the gate. That said, it’s a risk to underestimate Blumhouse. I’ll still say its opening is just about over half of what Unfriended accomplished.
Unfriended: Dark Web opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million
The fourth entry in a heavily profitable franchise, The First Purge invades theaters on July 4th. Blumhouse’s action horror series is (as the title suggests) a prequel that shows how all the purgin’ began. This is the first Purge pic not directed by James DeMonaco (though he wrote it) and Gerard McMurray takes over behind the camera. Cast members include Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, and Marisa Tomei.
As with most Blumhouse titles, this franchise has been a low-budget exercise with pleasing returns. 2013’s The Purge opened to $34 million with a $64 eventual domestic gross. 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy made $29.8 million out of the gate and $71 million overall. 2016’s The Purge: Election Year took off with $31.5 million over its three-day July 1-3 debut with $36.1 million when counting its July 4th gross. The total domestic gross was $79 million. Interestingly, each series feature has made more than the one before it in terms of eventual haul.
The First Purge gets a two-day jump on Ant-Man and the Wasp by rolling out on Wednesday. I don’t see any reason why its box office fireworks would simmer down. Considering its five-day premiere, the traditional weekend gross should be in the low to mid 20s with a high 20s or low 30s take when accounting for Wednesday and Thursday.
The First Purge opening weekend prediction: $22.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $31.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For my Ant-Man and the Wasp prediction, click here: