As they say, revenge is a film best served with Liam Neeson in it and Summit Entertainment hopes that holds true next weekend with ColdPursuit. The action thriller casts Neeson as a snow plow driver avenging the murder of his son with his particular set of skills. Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland is behind the camera and costars include Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, and William Forsythe.
We are a decade past the star’s career resurgence with the sleeper hit Taken and its two sequels. What followed were $20 million plus openers like Unknown and Non–Stop. The sub genre of Neeson tough guy flicks, however, has seen its grosses dwindle in recent years. AWalkAmongtheTombstones, RunAllNight, and last year’s TheCommuter all debuted in the low double digits to low teens range.
Reviews have been surprisingly strong and the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 93%. Several critics have praised an apparent well-placed sense of humor. Yet I’m skeptical that will give ColdPursuit a hot premiere. I’ll predict this falls right in line with his later entries.
ColdPursuit opening weekend prediction: $12.8 million
For my TheLegoMovie2: TheSecondPart prediction, click here:
Director Jaume Collet-Serra and his aging action star Liam Neeson collaborate for the fourth time with TheCommuter. If you remember their 2014 effort Non–Stop quite vividly, good for you because I had forgotten much of it. That pic put Mr. Neeson in a precarious position on a long flight in which he was forced to commit potential crimes commanded by shadowy villains. Four years later, this one puts Mr. Neeson in a precarious position on a long train ride in which he is forced to commit potential crimes commanded by shadowy villains. If that makes you think TheCommuter doesn’t exactly aim high, you’d be correct.
The trick with these movies is whether we can successfully put our brains aside and just enjoy the junk food genre offerings. This time around, the director and star don’t make it very easy for us. Neeson is Michael, an ex NYC cop turned life insurance agent for the last decade. He’s 60 (as he reminds us a few times) with a wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and son about to enter college. It’s tough for the family man to make ends meet and that’s thrown into chaos when he’s unceremoniously fired. Each day he makes a long commute home and on the day of his unexpected dismissal, more surprises follow. He’s approached on the train by Joanna (Vera Farmiga) and she offers an opportunity. There’s $100,000 for Michael if he can identify and place a GPS tracker on a passenger who goes by Prynne. Farmiga’s Conjuring hubby Patrick Wilson turns up as Michael’s old partner.
This is all tied to a murder investigation and Prynne is a witness. Joanna’s benefactors want Prynne eliminated and Michael is their ticket to make that happen. All this leads to Michael having to make a series of moral decisions while intermittently kicking an appropriate amount of baddie butt. We also are introduced to the train’s other passengers – some of whom are given perfunctory subplots while we await Prynne’s grand reveal.
TheCommuter, quite frankly, is totally ludicrous and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The same could certainly be said of Unknown (the first Collet-Serra/Neeson joint) or Non–Stop. Yet I found both to be slightly more entertaining than this. The screenplay (which somehow took three people to write it) does too little to engage us with its silly plot and a couple of decently choreographed action sequences aren’t enough to save it. Neeson gives it his earnest and occasionally intense all. Bless his heart for not coasting as the story does.
The month of January at the box office ends with one big new release and it’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure. The third franchise entry will look to finally dislodge Jumanji from its perch atop the charts. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:
As you can see, I have Death not reaching the heights of its two predecessors. That said, even with a low 20s debut, it should be enough to allow it to become the first 2018 release to open #1 in 2018.
The other wide release is the expansion of Hostiles with Christian Bale. Despite stellar reviews, the once awards hopeful has been flying under the radar and posting lackluster per screen averages in its limited release. Current screen counts show it rolling out to 3000 screens. I’m a little skeptical it reaches that many (we’ll see on Thursday). If it does, I’ll peg its opening at $4.8 million and that leaves it outside the top five. If the theater count changes by Thursday, so will my estimate.
With competition rather light this weekend, holdovers should experience smallish declines with the seemingly unstoppable Jumanji, The Post and The Greatest Showman perhaps being the largest benefactors.
And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend:
1. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Predicted Gross: $22.8 million
2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Predicted Gross: $14.9 million
Predicted Gross: $9.4 million
4. 12 Strong
Predicted Gross: $8.9 million
5. The Greatest Showman
Predicted Gross: $8.5 million
Box Office Results (January 19-21)
For the third weekend in a row, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle dominated the box office charts while newcomers posted better than expected results. The franchise reboot took in $19.5 million and I was right there with my estimate of $19.6 million. It’s taken in $316 million overall.
The Chris Hemsworth led true life military tale 12 Strong took the runner-up position with a decent $15.8 million, topping my $13.9 million. That’s a smidge above what was expected of it.
The story of the weekend may well be the over performance of Gerard Butler’s Den of Thieves, which surprised everyone with a robust $15.2 million debut in third… way above my $6.1 million projection. It actually had the highest per screen average of all the wide releases over the weekend.
The Post was fourth in its second weekend of release with $11.7 million, shy of my $14 million projection for a total of $44 million.
The Greatest Showman rounded out the top 5 with $10.6 million (I said $9.9 million) for a tally of $113 million.
Finally, I incorrectly had The Commuter inside the top 5, but it was seventh with $6.6 million (I said $7.6 million). It’s two-week total is $25 million.
And that does it for now as far as box office predictions…
However, if you missed my FINAL Oscar predictions (they’re out tomorrow morning), you can find them here:
12 Strong could potentially make a play for the top spot, but I suspect Jumanji will continue its dominance in first place. Looking over the post MLK weekend from years past, it’s not rare for holdovers to experience smallish declines. I suspect that will hold true for Jumanji and ThePost.
Along those lines, TheGreatestShowman should drop to fourth with TheCommuter roundingoutthetop5. My $6.1 million estimate for DenofThieves puts it outside my high five.
And with that – here they are!
1. Jumanji: WelcometotheJungle
Predicted Gross: $19.6 million
Predicted Gross: $14 million
Predicted Gross: $13.9 million
Predicted Gross: $9.9 million
Predicted Gross: $7.6 million
Jumanji continued its remarkable run atop the charts over the four day MLK weekend with $35.1 million, edging past my prediction of $32.7 million. The smash sequel has amassed $291 million since its Christmas time debut.
There were plenty of new releases and expansions this weekend and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar hopeful ThePost fared best in second with $23 million, in line with my $22.3 million estimate.
TheGreatestShowman continued its stellar run with $16.1 million, singing beyond my $12.6 million prediction. It’s ready to join the century club as it stands at $98 million.
Liam Neeson took fourth with TheCommuter as it opened with a fairly solid $15.8 million (I was a touch lower at $14.6 million).
One of the surprises of the weekend was the disappointing performance for critically acclaimed kiddie sequel Paddington2, debuting in fifth with a mediocre $15 million. I had it pegged for a #2 premiere at $22.4 million. Oops.
StarWars: TheLastJedi was sixth with $14.6 million (I said $15.5 million) for $594 million total.
Insidious: TheLastKey fell from second to seventh with $14.3 million compared to my $13.2 million estimate. It’s earned $50 million in its two weeks of release.
In eighth place, ProudMary with Taraji P. Henson had a muted start with $11.7 million, well under my $18.5 million projection.
PitchPerfect3 was ninth with $7.3 million. My prediction? $7.3 million. Woot woot. The three-quel is also on the cusp of nine figures with $96 million.
I incorrectly had DarkestHour outside the top 10, but it placed 10th with $5.4 million and $36 million.
Den of Thieves hopes to steal away some box office bucks next Friday. The heist thriller is headlined by Gerard Butler with a supporting cast including 50 Cent, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Pablo Schreiber. Christian Gudegast, who wrote the screenplay for Butler’s sequel London Has Fallen, directs.
Butler’s box office drawing power has been mixed since he broke out in 2007’s 300. Films ending in the words “has fallen” have performed well, as have The Bounty Hunter and Law Abiding Citizen. Others like Gamer and Gods of Egypt have not.
Thieves doesn’t look like a candidate to be a breakout. Action competition is a factor as 12 Strong opens the same day and Proud Mary and The Commuter will be in their sophomore frames.
I’ll predict this struggles to open in double digits and misses the mark.
Den of Thieves opening weekend prediction: $6.1 million
It’s our third four-day weekend in four frames as the MLK holiday is Monday and there’s four new pictures debuting wide. They are: family geared sequel Paddington2, Steven Spielberg Oscar hopeful ThePost, Liam Neeson thriller TheCommuter, and Taraji P. Henson action flick ProudMary. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
None are likely to dislodge Jumanji: WelcometotheJungle from its perch atop the charts. The MLK weekend typically sees minor drops from the previous one. As to which newbie garners the most cash… well, that’s an excellent question. I’m giving Paddington the slightest edge over ThePost for the two spot. I also anticipate a healthy debut for ProudMary over TheCommuter, which could open outside the top 5 depending on the StarWars hold.
As for the current #2, Insidious: TheLastKey, it could fall to 7th after an impressive premiere (more on that below). Horror pics historically suffer more precipitous drops than other genres. Lots to consider on this unpredictable weekend and here are my top ten estimates for Friday through Monday:
1. Jumanji: WelcometotheJungle
Predicted Gross: $32.7 million (representing a drop of 12%)
Predicted Gross: $22.4 million
Predicted Gross: $22.3 million
Predicted Gross: $18.5 million
5. StarWars: TheLastJedi
Predicted Gross: $15.5 million (representing a drop of 35%)
Predicted Gross: $14.6 million
7. Insidious: TheLastKey
Predicted Gross: $13.2 million (representing a drop of 55%)
Predicted Gross: $12.6 million (representing a drop of 8%)
Predicted Gross: $7.3 million (representing a drop of 28%)
Predicted Gross: $6.5 million (representing a drop of 15%)
As expected, Jumanji vaulted over StarWars in its third weekend to #1 with $37.2 million, easily outpacing my $29.1 million forecast for $245 million overall. The 90s reboot is performing fantastically and should continue its reign this weekend.
The other story of the weekend was the terrific performance of Insidious: TheLastKey, exceeding all expectations at $29.5 million in second compared to my meager $18.6 million estimate. It’s yet another success story for Blumhouse after a sizzling 2017.
TheLastKey dropped TheLastJedi to third with $23.7 million, in line with my $24.8 million projection. Episode VIII has taken in $572 million.
TheGreatestShowman continued its nice run in fourth with $13.7 million (I was lower at $10.6 million) for $76 million total.
Finally, PitchPerfect3 rounded out the top five with $10.2 million (I said $8 million) to bring its coffers to $86 million.
During last year’s Martin Luther King holiday weekend, Taraji P. Henson had the #1 film with her Oscar nominated HiddenFigures. In 2018, she’s back in the action thriller ProudMary. The pic finds her cast as a Boston hitwoman from director Babak Najafi, best known for making poorly received sequel LondonHasFallen. Supporting players include Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, and Margaret Avery.
While she’s best known for “Empire” television work, Henson’s big screen track record has been rather impressive with her roles in Figures, TheKarateKid remake, and NoGoodDeed.
ProudMary could have the advantage of attracting some genre fans, as well as African Americans and females (a demographic often underserved with action flicks). I believe this could post a high teens debut, which would put it above direct genre competition TheCommuter.
ProudMary opening weekend prediction: $18.5 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
It’s been nine years since Liam Neeson reinvented himself as everyone’s go to elder action star with Taken. The last couple of years have seen him focusing on other genres, but he’s back in kick ass mode next weekend with TheCommuter. This marks his fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra after Unknown, Non–Stop, and RunAllNight. Costars include Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (presumably doing no conjuring work), as well as Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, and Elizabeth McGovern.
Mr. Neeson’s first two pictures with this director came while he was still packing in audiences with the Taken franchise. That helped propel Unknown and Non–Stop to openings above $20 million. RunAllNight (and another more recent Neeson action flick AWalkAmongtheTombstones) both failed to reach the teens in their debuts.
TheCommuter has received decent reviews so far and sits at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, recent evidence has shown the star’s box office potency in the genre has waned. I’ll predict this reaches low to possibly higher teens for its four-day MLK weekend debut.
TheCommuter opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)