Dreamworks returns to the September animation game next weekend with Abominable. The kiddie adventure comes from director Jill Culton and features the voices of Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Sarah Paulson, and Eddie Izzard. It premiered days ago at the Toronto Film Festival to mostly solid reviews and sports a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 89%.
As mentioned, September (especially the later part of the month) has been fertile ground for animated features. While the HotelTransylvania and CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs franchises have seen debuts above $30 and $40 million, there’s also been several with starts in the $20-$25 million range. This includes OpenSeason (which Culton also made), Storks, TheLegoNinjagoMovie, and last year’s Smallfoot.
That’s precisely where I see Abominable landing and probably on the lower end of that scale.
Abominable opening weekend prediction: $20.7 million
This was a weekend where TheLegoMovie2: TheSecondPart was expected to easily nab the #1 spot at the box office. That mission was accomplished, but it did so with much less money than any prognosticator figured. The sequel to the 2014 original took in $34 million and that was about $20 million less than expected. I had a feeling it would under perform and forecasted a $48 million debut. However, I never figured a mid 30s premiere.
For some context, the first Lego experience five years ago made $69 million out of the gate and eventually earned $257 million domestically. In 2017, first franchise spin-off TheLegoBatmanMovie debuted to $53 million ($175 million total). The first sign of trouble came a few months later when TheLegoNinjagoMovie came in far under estimates with $20 million in its opening weekend and a lowly $59 million stateside. Yet some attributed the poor Ninjago performance to its limited niche audience.
TheSecondPart marked a hopeful return to form for Warner Bros considering it was a direct sequel to a picture that made over $250 million. There is no doubt that the number produced this weekend could block future plans for the series. Its best hope ahead could be the President’s Day weekend as the studio hopes it will have a small decline. Any way you cut it, though, part two will seriously come in under its predecessor. We now have two LegoMovie collapses in a row and it will be interesting to see how Warner handles it.
The Lego franchise has made nearly half a billion dollars at the domestic box office for Warner Bros since 2014 and TheLegoMovie2: TheSecondPart will add to those coffers next weekend. It’s money hauls, however, have not translated to success with Oscar voters.
TheLegoMovie was critically acclaimed and seemed assured an Academy nod in Animated Feature four years ago. It was one of the most surprising snubs when it didn’t make the cut. There were two Lego pics in 2017 (TheLegoBatmanMovie, TheLegoNinjagoMovie). Neither of them managed to make the race that year.
While reviews for TheSecondPart are strong, several critics have said it doesn’t quite match the first part. Competition from animated sequels alone in 2019 (HowtoTrainYourDragon: TheHiddenWorld, Frozen2, ToyStory4) is serious. Therefore it appears highly unlikely that this will be the year where Lego builds any standing with the awards crowd.
The Warner Animation Group hopes to build back up its near half billion dollar domestic franchise next weekend with the release of TheLegoMovie2: TheSecondPart. This direct sequel arrives five years after its hit predecessor, though there’s been two spin-offs in the meantime. Mike Mitchell, who made ShrekForeverAfter and Trolls, takes over directing duties from Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (they wrote the screenplay). Returning voices include Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett (he’s Batman), Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Will Ferrell. Familiar faces joining the voiceover party are aplenty. They include Tiffany Haddish, Maya Rudolph, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brooklyn Prince, and thespians from the DC Cinematic Universe (Gal Gadot, Margot Robbie, Jason Momoa).
In February of 2014, TheLegoMovie earned $69 million out of the gate with an eventual stateside take of $257 million. Our first spin-off, 2017’s TheLegoBatmanMovie, achieved $53 million for its start and $175 million total. A few months later, TheLegoNinjagoMovie was a legitimate disappointment. It premiered with only $20 million and didn’t leg out well ($59 million).
As they were with the first part, reviews are positive as this stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics, however, have noted it doesn’t quite match up to the original. While this should easily debut at #1, I’ll project that it falls short of the 2014 earnings. Topping $50 million is certainly possible, but I’ll go just shy of that number.
TheLegoMovie2: TheSecondPart opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million
This Friday, Warner Bros animation is out with TeenTitans! GoTotheMovies based on the Cartoon Network series. It’s a superhero spoof blending the characters of the show with notable icons from their catalog, including Nicolas Cage voicing Superman and Jimmy Kimmel as the Caped Crusader.
Early reviews are quite encouraging and it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the potential to be a summer sleeper that could appeal to kids and their parents. Will Oscar take note?
That could be a reach. Warner Bros has had a critically acclaimed output recently with their Lego series. However, TheLegoMovie, TheLegoBatmanMovie, and TheLegoNinjagoMovie all failed to garner recognition in the Best Animated Feature category.
We can pretty safely say that two 2018 releases are already in for nods: Wes Anderson’s IsleofDogs and Pixar’s superhero toon Incredibles2. And there’s plenty more animated material to come. Despite positive buzz, that could mean Academy voters could fail to remember the Titans in a few months.
Blogger’s Note (10/04/17) – I’ve changed predictions for nearly every film here… UPDATED PROJECTIONS REFLECTED BELOW
After a tight battle for #1 this past weekend between three pictures, there’s little no doubt as to what opens on top this coming weekend with Blade Runner 2049 hitting screens. We also have the Kate Winslet/Idris Elba disaster pic/romance The Mountain Between Us and animated My Little Pony: The Movie debuting. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:
As mentioned, the glowing reviews for Blade Runner 2049 and the feeling of it being a bit of an event picture has me projecting a mid 40s opening. That should give it lots of space at #1 ahead of all competitors.
After that, it gets murky. I have Mountain slated at #2, but its middling reviews could be a hindrance to it reaching double digits (which I barely have it reaching).
When it comes to My Little Pony, my $8.2 million estimate is basically a middle ground figure as I could easily see it slightly over or under performing. That number puts it right in the mix of where It, American Made, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle might be. Bottom line: numbers 2-6 on the chart this weekend could be awfully close.
And with that, my top 6 projections for the weekend ahead:
1. Blade Runner 2049
Predicted Gross: $52.1 million
2. My Little Pony: The Movie
Predicted Gross: $10.9 million
Predicted Gross: $9.3 million (representing a drop of 45%)
4. The Mountain Between Us
Predicted Gross: $9.2 million
Predicted Gross: $8.9 million (representing a drop of 47%)
6. Kingsman: TheGoldenCircle
Predicted Gross: $8 million (representing a drop of 53%)
Box Office Results (September 29-October 1)
It is really the sole reason why this September’s box office was a record one and so it seems fitting that the horror flick nearly returned to the #1 position as the month ended. The pic earned $16.9 million (ahead of my $15.1M estimate) to bring its total to $290 million.
Yet it was Kingsman: TheGoldenCircle that barely remained on top as it also made $16.9 million (I said $17.6M) for a two-week tally of $66 million.
Tom Cruise’s AmericanMade debuted in third with a just OK $16.7 million compared to my $15.5M prediction. Its best hope is for smallish declines in future frames.
TheLegoNinjago Movie dropped to fourth with $11.6 million (I said $12.6M) to bring its disappointing total to $35 million.
Flatliners did just that in its premiere in fifth, earning a sleepy $6.5 million, on pace with my $6.3M forecast.
In its wider expansion, BattleoftheSexes underwhelmed in sixth with only $3.4 million, below my $5.2M estimate.
Blogger’s Note (10/04/17): I have revised my estimate up from $8.2 million to $10.9 million
Lest you confuse it with My Little Pony: The Seance or My Little Pony: The Rodeo perhaps, My Little Pony: The Movie gallops into theaters next weekend with a likely soft footprint.
Based on the Hasbro toy franchise that also spawned Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises, this one leaves out the action and is geared towards family audiences and little girls. The pic is an extension of a children’s animated show that airs on The Hub (which is apparently a thing… I’m probably not the target audience).
In addition to the voice actors who work on the TV series, there’s some familiar faces behind the voices including Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana, Liev Schrieber, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Pena, Sia, Uzo Aduba, and Taye Diggs.
Family audiences will have Ninjago in its third weekend for competition, even though it’s underwhelmed in its earnings. Yet it’s hard to see these ponies breaking out in any major way. I have doubts this will even reach double digits out of the gate.
My Little Pony: The Movie opening weekend prediction: $10.9 million