It’s hard to type this, but we’re two weekends away from the start of the summer movie season, and while we have five new films going into wide release this weekend and one film going into moderate release, none are expected to be big hitters this weekend. Those five new films are Unforgettable, The Promise, Born in China, Free Fire, and Phoenix Forgotten. And The Lost City of Z will be going from limited to moderate release this weekend. Okay, let’s get cracking on what’s going to end up where this weekend.
First place will stay with The Fate of the Furious, which did fall short of most expectations last weekend, but still posted the third biggest opening weekend in the month of April. The average second-weekend fall for the franchise is 60%, so if we use that, we’re looking at a second weekend of $39.5 million, which should easily be enough to retain that first place status. Second place will also go to holdover The Boss Baby, which could potentially end its domestic run at $140 million plus. I have it falling 40% this weekend and hitting $9.6 million. Third place is where the newcomers come in this weekend. The only new release this weekend that’s looking at an opening that will solidly be in the top five is Unforgettable, which stars Katherine Heigl and Rosario Dawson. The marketing has actually been pretty strong for the film, but with no critical reviews at this time, that’s not a comforting sign. Tracking has it hitting $10.5 million, which I don’t think will happen. I have it considerably lower with $8 million, which should be enough for third place. It will play in 2,350 theaters this weekend, so we’re looking at $3,404 as the per-theater average.
In fourth place I have another holdover, Beauty and the Beast, which will fall 50% and hit $6.8 million. And in fifth place I’ll go with Born in China. These Disneynature films do tend to open okay, and with the benefit of Earth Day this weekend, I think it’ll do just fine even if it’s only in 1,508 theaters. John Krasinski is the next narrator, whose not as known a name as some of the other narrators of the past films, and the marketing has been so-so, but with 83% of critics giving it a positive review on Rotten Tomatoes helping I’m anticipating an opening weekend of $5.5 million, just a bit above the $5 million even tracked for the film. The per-theater average is looking like $3,647. So those are all the top five films. Now for how well the other four films will do.
I think the next best opening will be The Promise, which surprisingly has the second-highest theater count of the films opening this weekend. Also you’ve got, arguably, the biggest cast of any of the new releases with Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon. The marketing hasn’t been exactly strong, but I think the key audience they’re looking for is at least aware of it. Critics are mixed on it, 45% of them giving it a positive review on Rotten Tomatoes, and the tracked number seems a little low to me, $2.2 million. I’ll go higher with $3 million. 2,251 theaters will play it, so we’re looking at $1,333 as the per-theater average. Next up will be Phoenix Forgotten, the newest found-footage horror movie. Since it’s in the found-footage style, there’s no major actors at play. The marketing has been okay, not great but not terrible, but no reviews lead me to believe this won’t make a huge impact on the box office. I’m thinking if it’s lucky it’ll hit the bottom of the top ten for the weekend. Tracking is not available, but I’m thinking $2.5 million will be about it. 1,578 theaters will play it, so we’re looking at $1,584 as the per-theater average, but my total might be over-accommodating.
Two left. Man, this feels like a marathon. Two of the best reviewed films going into wide release or expanding, unfortunately, look like they’re going to get crushed at the weekend box office: Free Fire and The Lost City of Z. Between the two of them, Free Fire is headed for the better weekend, mainly because it’s got more theaters to its name. The film stars Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Jack Reynor and Cillian Murphy, and while I think the trailers have been great, there really hasn’t been all that solid an effort from the marketing department. 72% of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes who have seen the film gave it a good review, but with only 1,070 theaters playing the film, it’ll probably only look at at opening weekend of $1.7 million tops. Tracking is considerably higher with $3.5 million, but it’ll take a miracle to reach that number. My number means $1,589 is the per-theater average.
And last and probably least grossing of the films on the docket this weekend is The Lost City of Z, which includes a pretty good cast like Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Ian McDiarmid, and Franco Nero. I’ve seen literally no marketing for the film, but critics are really digging it: 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think there’s enough good word-of-mouth around the film for it to crack $1 million in 750 theaters, but don’t expect much more. No tracking available. My $1 million prediction would mean a per-theater average of $1,333.
Now we’ll quickly take a look at how well I did last weekend with predictions. The Fate of the Furious indeed took first place, and while it fell well short of my high-balled $123 million prediction, $98.7 million is, as previously mentioned, the third-best opening for any film in April. Second place went to The Boss Baby, which I had earning $15.8 million, and it was really close: $16 million was the actual number. Third place was also correctly predicted for Beauty and the Beast, which hit $13.7 million. I had it at an even $13 million. I had fourth and fifth place swapped: Smurfs: The Lost Village took fourth place with $6.7 million, whereas I had it in fifth place with $5.9 million, and Going in Style ended up in fifth place with $6.2 million, below my $7.1 million prediction. Well, that looks stupid in retrospect. I also had a prediction for Gifted, which entered wide release last week. I had $5 million as a bit of a high-ball prediction, and it came in sixth place with $3 million, so that wasn’t as good accuracy wise, but it look triumphant next to the prediction for the limited release Spark: A Space Tail. The film only opened in 365 theaters, and I had a $1 million opening. You want to know how bad it ended up? 27th place and a little over $100 thousand opening weekend. You can smell the failure from here. Anyways, this weekend is especially tricky and there’s lots of moving parts, so we’ll see just how good a mood I’m in by the end of the weekend.