Blogger’s Note (05/15): My estimate has risen from $37.8 million to $45.8 million
Keanu Reeves is back in theaters next weekend as America’s favorite dog loving hitman when JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum debuts. The action thriller hopes to build upon the momentum of 2017’s highly successful sequel. Chad Stahelski returns as director with familiar series faces including Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, and John Leguizamo. New stars in our third edition include Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, and Anjelica Huston.
Mr. Reeves found himself in an unexpected new franchise five years ago when JohnWick opened to $14 million with a $43 million overall domestic gross. While that might not seem like enough to automatically warrant a follow-up, the pic achieved critical kudos and cult status when it arrived on demand. Three years later, Chapter2 made $30 million for its start and $92 million total.
Parabellum has a solid shot at topping the opening weekend of its predecessor, which also garnered glowing reviews. I’ll say mid to high 30s is where this ends up.
JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum opening weekend prediction: $45.8 million
Keanu Reeves returns to science fiction territory next weekend with the release of Replicas. The thriller casts him as a neuroscientist who clones his family after they’re killed in an auto accident. Costars include Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, and John Ortiz. Jeffrey Nachmanoff, best known as the screenwriter for TheDayAfterTomorrow, directs.
While its lead has certainly had success in the genre (TheMatrix), it hasn’t always been that way (JohnnyMnemonic anyone?). Reeves should have a hit at the box office this year, but that will come in May with JohnWick: Parabellum. This effort appears to be getting the unceremonious January dump.
I’ll say Replicas gets low single digits and disappears quickly.
AtomicBlonde is set in 1989 and that feels appropriate because it’s a gleefully rated R entry in an action genre that cranked out a lot more of those 30 years ago. It’s unapologetically violent, sexy, and stylish with a pulsating late 80s soundtrack booming all throughout (almost all throughout). It’s additionally uneven at times and confusing, but I didn’t care much because the good outweighs the bad and the bad people look good doing their thing.
David Leitch co-directed JohnWick and we see those kind of kinetic fight scenes represented here as well. Charlize Theron is Lorraine, an MI6 agent dispatched to Berlin just days before the collapse of the Wall. While the Cold War is drawing to a close, she’s given the mission of retrieving a McGuffin (a wristwatch in this case) that hides the identities of secret agents. She’s also teamed up with Percival (James McAvoy), an outlandish fellow agent who may or may not be on her side. Lorraine also gets friendly (very friendly) with Sofia Boutella’s French agent and the scenes between them aren’t something normally found in summer shoot-em-up material.
The story is told in flashback (not exactly an original touch) as Lorraine recounts her sordid Berlin experience to a CIA man (John Goodman) and other government big wigs. The villains change seemingly minute to minute. It’s a screenplay that never tires of double, triple, and quadruple crosses. Trying to piece it altogether at its conclusion may not be worth your time.
That said, certain sequences and the general cool vibe make it worth your while. It also doesn’t hurt to hear George Michael, A Flock of Seagulls and others singing along during the battle ballets. They’re a trip, but the most effective fight scene is a gloriously choreographed number with no music. It might be the finest action set piece using that distinction since Heat.
Theron has proven herself in several genres, but she sure seems comfortable in this one. McAvoy is having a blast as well. AtomicBlonde is shameless in a way that R rated action pics should be when they’re done well enough. And that alone sets it apart in the summer season.
Blogger’s Note (07/23): I am revising my estimate down from my original projection to a high teens debut.
Charlize Theron is in her second high-profile action flick of 2017 as Atomic Blonde hits theaters next weekend. The Oscar winner plays an MI6 agent teamed up with James McAvoy. The spy thriller costars John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones and is directed by John Wick‘s David Leitch.
Blonde premiered this spring at the South by Southwest Festival to solid word-of-mouth and reviews have been mostly pleasing as it stands at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Theron appeared in this spring’s The Fate of the Furious and McAvoy is fresh off his blockbuster starring role in Split.
Shot for a meager $30 million, the pic should have no trouble being a profitable venture for its studio. It could reach close to its budget in the first weekend, though I’ll estimate it falls a bit under that in the mid 20s. That may mean a debut in third place behind The Emoji Movie and the second weekend of Dunkirk, depending on how that opens on Friday.
Atomic Blonde opening weekend prediction: $18.6 million
Unlike its surprise hit predecessor, no animals are harmed in the duration of John Wick: Chapter 2. However, dozens and dozens of other miscellaneous henchmen are. Especially their heads, which is a specialty of our title character to turn them into squib fodder.
2014’s John Wick gave our retired assassin (Keanu Reeves) a decent reason to use his killing skills. His dying wife gave him a dog as a gift and bad guys disposed of it (they also stole his sweet ride). This led to a shoot-em-up extravaganza that served as a comeback role for Reeves and one of the more distinctive action titles in a while. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch fashioned an ultra stylish, ultra violent, and occasionally ultra inventive experience. The first Wick burned with an intense, brooding and often humorous showcase for its star. Yet it also began building a world gleefully not grounded anywhere in reality that let the creative juices of screenwriter Derek Kolstad run free. This was especially evident in scenes at The Continental Hotel in New York City, a fancy establishment reserved for nefarious types who make their living from offing others.
It was time spent at that hotel that gave John Wick an air of something new and creative and it turns out there’s a Continental in Rome as well. That’s where the majority of the carnage here takes place. The sequel picks up right after the events of the original as Wick wraps up his business from the previous outing. He’s ready to go back to retirement with his new unnamed canine companion when an Italian baddie (Riccardo Scamarcio) visits his home. It turns out Wick made a deal with him some time ago to accept any job with no questions asked. Our villain’s task is to kill his sister so he can elevate his crime boss status and that brings Wick to Rome with an arsenal.
What follows is a lot of what we saw in the original – grandly choreographed sequences in which Wick uses his talents. This could run the risk of becoming redundant. There’s only so many ways of killing villains, but I’ll be damned if Wick doesn’t find some fascinating ways to do it. Still, it’s the little touches that make chapters 1 and 2 special from time to time.
For instance, I love the idea of an old school telephone company setting where the women working in the office look like goth versions of tellers from the 1950s. Their job is to pass along information when a hit is ordered (of which John is certainly subject to). I found myself interested in all the rules that the film’s enormous supply of assassins must abide by and the hints of larger syndicates. Some of those new professionals include Common (whose fights scenes with Wick are a highlight) and Ruby Rose as a mute vixen who hurls insults through sign language. Laurence Fishburne pops up as an underground (literally) crime leader whose group will probably play a larger role in the inevitable sequel.
While Wick’s motivations in this chapter aren’t quite as rage inducing as his departed pup, Chapter 2 recognizes the unique qualities that put chapter 1 above your typical genre material. Thankfully it keeps it at a level where I’m curious what the next chapter brings beyond the limitless supply of mercenaries whose cranial areas will be irreparably harmed.
President’s Day weekend has arrived at the box office with three new titles debuting over the four-day holiday frame: Matt Damon’s action epic The Great Wall, Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight, and Gore Verbinski’s horror thriller A Cure for Wellness. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
None of the trio is likely to dislodge the Caped Crusader and his Lego friends from the top perch in its second weekend. In fact, this particular February weekend often sees holdovers experience smallish declines. The Lego Movie dipped just 9% in the 2014 PD weekend and I expect the same type of minor dip for its spin-off.
With the #1 film safely (I think) determined, the rest of the top five is much more unpredictable. Looking over the past few President’s Day weekends, newbies opening in the mid to high 20s is commonplace. This applied to titles such as Unknown, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, A Good Day to Die Hard, Safe Haven, About Last Night, and Robocop. I foresee both Wall and Fight falling in this range for a photo finish for #2.
Then there’s Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2, both in their sophomore weekends. I don’t see Darker having a 74% drop like its predecessor Fifty Shades of Grey experienced (it had a much bigger opening for one thing). However, I could see it losing half its audience easily as grosses for this franchise are front loaded. Wick may lose less than a third of its debut crowd for a solid hold. And that could create another photo finish between these sequels.
This leaves A Cure for Wellness. Strong reviews may have helped this, but it’s not getting them and I’m diagnosing just a low double digits premiere for a probable sixth place showing.
And with that, my top 6 projections for this busy weekend:
1. The Lego Batman Movie
Predicted Gross: $49.4 million (representing a drop of 6%)
2. The Great Wall
Predicted Gross: $25.6 million
3. Fist Fight
Predicted Gross: $25.1 million
4. John Wick: Chapter 2
Predicted Gross: $21.5 million (representing a drop of 29%)
5. Fifty Shades Darker
Predicted Gross: $21.3 million (representing a drop of 54%)
6. A Cure for Wellness
Predicted Gross: $10.2 million
Box Office Results (February 10-12)
The Lego Batman Movie took the top spot, though not with as much ease as many thought it would. The critically acclaimed animated spin-off grossed $53 million, a decent number but not near the $69M made by The Lego Movie in its inaugural weekend and under my $65.8M projection. That said, as mentioned above, its drop this weekend should be slight.
Fifty Shades Darker opened in second at $46.6 million, in line with my $44.8M estimate. This is far from the $85 million achieved two years back by Fifty Shades of Grey, but it’s actually above some of the predictions from prognosticators in the past week or so.
John Wick: Chapter 2 capitalized on the goodwill left over from the 2014 original with a strong $30.4 million, more than doubling the $14M earned by its predecessor two and a half years back. It easily eclipsed my $20.7M estimate.
Holdovers rounded out the top five with Split dropping to fourth at $9.5 million (I said $8.2M) for a $112M total and Hidden Figures at fifth with $8 million (I said $6.9M) for a $131M overall haul.
And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…
It’s a bustling weekend of sequels and spin-offs as three new high-profile releases debut: animated spin-off The Lego Batman Movie, risque sequel Fifty Shades Darker, and Keanu Reeves action follow-up John Wick: Chapter 2. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
As I see it, the trio of newcomers should have no trouble placing 1st-3rd on the charts. Lego is highly likely to come out on top and I’ve got making a bit less than the $69 million earned by The Lego Movie in 2014.
Prognosticators are pegging Fifty Shades Darker to earn about half of the fantastic $85 million made by Fifty Shades of Grey two years ago. That sounds about right.
The original John Wick from 2014 has turned into a cult hit after a decent box office performance and it looks to expand a bit on the $14 million debut of its predecessor.
The newbies should cause M. Night Shyamalan’s Split to fall to fourth place after three weeks at #1. The 5 spot could be a battle between A Dog’s Purpose, Hidden Figures, and Rings, but I’ll give Figuresthe slight edge.
And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend:
1. The Lego Batman Movie
Predicted Gross: $65.8 million
2. Fifty Shades Darker
Predicted Gross: $44.8 million
3. John Wick: Chapter 2
Predicted Gross: $20.7 million
Predicted Gross: $8.2 million (representing a drop of 43%
5. Hidden Figures
Predicted Gross: $6.9 million (representing a drop of 32%)
Box Office Results (February 3-5)
The Super Bowl weekend is typically a slower one at multiplexes and 2017 was no different. Split managed a three-peat in weekend #3 in the top spot as it grossed $14.4 million. My prediction? $14.4M! Yay! The Shyamalan hit stands at $98 million through the weekend and should pass the century mark today.
Audiences were more interested in Tom Brady’s rings than Rings, which disappointed at second with an unlucky $13 million. I went way higher with $20.3 million. It had been 12 years since the horror franchise was around and ambivalence to it was clearly shown. The pic is likely to experience a large drop in its sophomore frame and plummet right out of the top 5.
A Dog’s Purpose was third with $10.5 million, shy of my $12.5M forecast for a two-week total of $32M.
Hidden Figures was fourth with $10.1 million (in line with $10.7M prognosis) for a $119M overall tally as $150M looks well within its sights.
La La Land rounded out the top five with $7.3 million (I said $8.3M) for a $118M haul as it dances its way to probable Oscar glory.
Finally, the oft delayed teenage sci-fi romance The Space Between Us bombed in ninth place with a measly $3.7 million debut compared to my $6.7M estimate.