The third generation of the Shaft family debuts in theaters next weekend with Jessie Usher playing an FBI agent in the action pic. Arriving nearly 50 years after Richard Roundtree played John Shaft and almost two decades after Samuel L. Jackson played his nephew, both actors are present in the newest iteration. Tim Story (maker of the RideAlong pics) directs with a supporting cast including Alexandra Shipp, Regina Hall, and Method Man.
Reportedly made for a smallish $30 million budget, the studio behind Shaft would love to match the $21 million opening weekend debut of the 2000 Jackson led summer flick. Tracking puts in right in that range. However, we’ve seen reboots disappoint in 2019.
I’ll say this gets to mid to high teens and considering the price tag, that’s not too shabby.
Shaft opening weekend prediction: $16.8 million
For my MeninBlack: International prediction, click here:
When it debuts over the MLK four-day holiday weekend, M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass will easily break into the number one spot. Questions about its potential ceiling are very real. The superhero thriller mixes the casts of two of the filmmaker’s best known works – 2000’s Unbreakable and 2017’s Split. That means James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark and Anya-Taylor Joy are along for the ride as well as Sarah Paulson joining this cinematic universe. No other movie opens wide against it.
Just over 18 years ago, Unbreakable was Night’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough smash hit TheSixthSense. Audiences had a mixed reaction at the time, but it managed a five-day Thanksgiving haul of $46 million before a final domestic gross of $95 million. Its reputation has grown in many circles in time. Two years ago, Split served as a major comeback vehicle for the director with a $40 million start as it legged out to $138 million.
I believe the positive response for Split will earn this impressive results. It only helps that it’s still fresh in the minds of audiences, including the ending that set up this picture. Word-of-mouth will determine the rest.
Glass will not shatter this holiday weekend’s record, which is held by AmericanSniper at $107 million. Earning the #2 honors over MLK should be a breeze as that’s currently held by RideAlong at $48 million.
Prognostications have this nabbing anywhere between $50-75 million from Friday to Monday. I have a hunch the higher end of that range is the route to go.
*On the eve of its premiere, I’m downgrading from $72.1 million to $58.1 million
Glass opening weekend prediction: $58.1 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
**Blogger’s Update (09/27/18): My estimate has risen to $27.6 million to $31.6 million
One of the most dependable comedic actors at the box office teams with one of the hottest newer names when Night School opens next weekend. Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish headline the pic about a group trying to pass their GED exam. Malcolm D. Lee (who just directed Haddish in her breakout Girls Trip) is behind the camera. The supporting cast includes Rob Riggle, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, and Keith David.
Hart has been a model of consistency in recent years when it comes to high earners. In addition to just coming off the massive blockbuster Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, he’s had a handful of $30 million plus openers including Think Like a Man, both Ride Along features, Get Hard, and Central Intelligence. The Think Like a Man sequel almost reached $30 million while About Last Night made $25.6 million for its start. The low-end of the spectrum is The Wedding Ringer with $20.6 million. As for Lee and Haddish’s Trip, it took in $31.2 million.
The collaboration of these talents should yield pleasing results and the likely #1 spot over its made competitor – the animated Smallfoot. I’m a little skeptical this reaches $30 million, though it certainly could. A gross in the mid to high 20s seems more probable.
Night School opening weekend prediction: $31.6 million
Ice Cube and Charlie Day headline the comedy Fist Fight, which hits theaters over Presidents Day weekend. A loose remake of the 1987 cult pic Three O’Clock High, costars include Tracy Morgan (in his first film after his auto accident), Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert, and Kumail Nanjiani.
Mr. Cube has had his share of laugh inducing hits and franchises over the years with Barbershop, 21/22 Jump Street, and Ride Along. Day is best known for TV’s “It Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and the Horrible Bosses flicks.
Fight pits Cube as a teacher challenging his fellow educator to a schoolyard brawl. With its simple concept, known stars in the genre, and really zero competition when it comes to comedies (save for Lego Batman I suppose), I’ll predict this manages a mid 20s four day debut. It could even fight for the highest opening among the two others newbies (The Great Wall, A Cure for Wellness) over the holiday weekend.
Fist Fight opening weekend prediction: $25.1 million
CentralIntelligence is not bad, which is more than you can say with some scripts that Kevin Hart has been saddled with over the last few years. From RideAlong (both of them) to TheWeddingRinger to GetHard, the talented Mr. Hart has not seen much material that rises above the strictly mediocre. With a worthy comedic partner in Dwayne Johnson that he has an easy chemistry with, Intelligence may not be very intelligent but it’s got its share of genuinely amusing moments due to their partnership.
The film begins in 1996 when the two stars are high school seniors. Hart is Calvin. He’s the star athlete, resident heralded drama thespian, and runaway Most Likely to Succeed. Johnson is Robbie, whose figure is anything but rock solid. He’s bullied mercilessly by his fellow students and Calvin is the only guy who seems to show him any mercy.
Flash forward two decades as the two are up for the 20 year reunion. Calvin has become a bored accountant in a dead end job, still married somewhat unhappily to his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet). Robbie is now the blandly named Bob Stone, complete with a physique befitting the actor portraying him. He’s now in the CIA and being accused of being a rogue agent trying to sell secrets to the highest bidder.
What follows is a routine buddy flick where Bob/Robbie and Calvin must team up while chased by people who may or may not be bad guys. Amy Ryan gets the change of pace role of the government agency head pursuing them and Aaron Paul pops up as Robbie’s former partner. The threadbare plot of CentralIntelligence is ho-hum at best, but it’s also not what it’s centrally about.
The pic rises and falls on the interaction between the leads and there’s some good stuff to be witnessed. Johnson has already proven his sense of humor (he seems well aware that his character in the Fast & Furious franchise is supposed to be funny). We also have some messages written in about bullying that’s presented slightly better than you might expect in this type of material. There’s some unexpected cameos from other well known comedy actors that are welcome. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber had a hit in 2013 with We’retheMillers, which I enjoyed. That effort had the benefit of hilarious supporting work from Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn and a whacky villain role for Ed Helms that accentuated the proceedings beyond its main stars. CentralIntelligence doesn’t have that, but at least the two names above the title help deliver something a bit more worthy of their talents.
Kevin Hart has been busy at the box office in 2016. Ride Along 2 debuted in January with an overall gross of $90 million (shy of its predecessor, but not bad). This summer came Central Intelligence, his team-up with The Rock that marked his second highest grosser ever at $127 million (after the first Ride Along, which made $134M). While the comedian has broken through on the silver screen in a major way, he hasn’t forgotten his stand-up roots. That leads to Kevin Hart: What Now?, out next weekend, which presents his latest comedy tour with a show taped in 2015 in Philadelphia.
For comparisons sake, it’s been three years since Mr. Hart released his last stand-up pic theatrically. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain had a $10 million premiere with a $32M eventual domestic haul. Comedy concerts released in multiplexes are a rare breed, but there’s some hope this could outshine Explain. The most obvious reason is that Hart has become a much bigger movie star in the three years that have transpired. On the other hand, moviegoers know even more now that Now will likely be available for their viewing pleasure via streaming quite soon.
Add that up and I believe What Now? will manage to outpace Explain for a debut in the low to mid double digits.
Kevin Hart: What Now? opening weekend prediction: $13.5 million
Continuing with my series of performers who had a big impact on film this year, part two of six brings us to Kevin Hart.
Not only is he one of the highest grossing stand-up comics around, this year proved he can truly headline at the multiplex as well. The biggest example came in January with the surprise hit buddy cop comedy Ride Along with Ice Cube. The pic amassed a fantastic $134 million gross and was #1 for four weeks. A sequel is already planned for January 2016.
February brought his supporting role in About Last Night which earned a respectable $48 million. In June came his sequel Think Like a Man Too, which topped out at $65 million (less than its predecessor, but still solid considering its $24M budget).
More than anything though, Ride Along made Hart a hot commodity and 2015 should keep the momentum going. January sees the premiere of The Wedding Ringer and in March, he teams up with Will Ferrell in Get Hard.
For my post on The Year of Shailene Woodley, click here: