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Box office preview: Blair Witch, Bridget Jones's Baby new, face Sully

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Keith Bernstein; Lionsgate; Giles Keyte

Two very beloved, very different franchises are coming back this weekend in the form of Bridget Jones’s Baby, the follow-up to 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (and its 2004 sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), and Blair Witch, the sequel to 1999’s Blair Witch Project. But that doesn’t mean either are going to end up on top: That spot will likely belong to Sully, the Tom Hanks-led drama that had a stellar $35 million opening last week.

Snowden is also opening, so the arrival of these three new wide releases will probably push recent box office mainstays Don’t Breathe and Suicide Squad out of the top five. Here’s how the weekend of Sept. 16-18 might turn out:

1. Sully — $25 million

The Clint Eastwood-directed drama surpassed expectations its opening weekend when it made $35 million, earning it the title of the largest September debut for a Warner Bros. film. The film, based on the true-life story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landing a plane on the Hudson River in 2009, has solid critical reviews — it currently has a solid 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — and the star power of everyone’s favorite everyman, Tom Hanks, to help it stay on top. 

Hanks’ recent films, 2015’s Bridge of Spies and 2013’s Captain Phillips, dropped 26 percent and 36 percent, respectively, between their first and second weeks, and Sully is likely to follow suit. Neither of those movies had nearly as strong of an opening as Sully, though, so it’s possible this one will once again impress over the weekend with just a light drop in revenue.

2. Blair Witch — $20 million

The original Blair Witch Project was new and different, and, as a result, exciting and terrifying. It’s been 17 years though, so now we’re all well aware of the found footage formula, something that takes away the horrifying magic of a found footage movie like this new addition to the Blair Witch franchise. But because the first one is so adored among certain theatergoers, those same fans will turn out to see this one. Plus, the success of Don’t Breathe — a horror movie that just spent three consecutive weeks at No. 1 — proves there’s an appetite for the genre. Forecasts predict it’ll open in the mid- to late-teens, though that aforementioned hunger for horror might help bring that number higher.

3. Bridget Jones’s Baby — $15 million

Unlike Blair Witch, this new entry in the world of Bridget Jones doesn’t have a groundbreaking predecessor to live up to — just a beloved one, the 2001 British rom-com Bridget Jones’s Diary. (Although the sequel, 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason had a similar opening, it didn’t fare quite as well in terms of reviews and overall gross.) Because it’s been over a decade since both of those films came out, now is a good time for the relatably messy character to return to the big screen and will fill a nostalgia void for those rom-com-loving audiences who’ve been feeling left out when it comes to recent retreads. Both Diary and Edge of Reason opened wide to about $10 million, though Baby should surpass that thanks to the nostalgia angle — as well as the recent lack of lighthearted, live-action comedies in theaters — and end up somewhere in the mid-teens. 

4. Snowden — $7 million

Oliver Stone’s Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, is relevant, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what audiences are aching to see — and so-so reviews (the drama currently has a 55 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) won’t help attract viewers. Gordon-Levitt’s last biographical drama, 2015’s The Walk, opened wide at a similar time last year to $3.7 million, a number Snowden might double thanks to its considerably buzzier subject matter — no offense to high-wire walkers.

5. When the Bough Breaks — $6 million

This thriller, starring Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall, opened at No. 2 with a healthy $14.2 million last week, but it won’t be surprising if it drops by over half this weekend as a result of poor reviews (it has a 7 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and the presence of Blair Witch, a slight competitor in terms of genre. 

 

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