It’s shaping up to be an epic battle for the weekend box office crown as Tim Burton unleashes to theaters his first big-budget studio fantasy in four years, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
As the fall movie season heats up, the auteur faces stiff competition from Peter Berg’s Mark Wahlberg-starring Deepwater Horizon, which re-teams the star with his Lone Survivor director, and last week’s Magnificent Seven, which could shed a minimal portion of its audience thanks to strong reviews and positive audience reaction (it boasts an A- on CinemaScore).
Relativity also unveils its Masterminds, a low-brow Zach Galifianakis/Kristen Wiig comedy, while Disney pushes Queen of Katwe, the Mira Nair-directed, Lupita Nyong’o-fronted biopic about Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, into wide release following its bow in select markets last week.
It’s going to be a close finish for the No. 1 spot, but here’s what the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 box office chart will probably look like at the end of the weekend:
1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – $25 million
Anticipation is high for Tim Burton’s first major studio fantasy title since helming 2012’s Dark Shadows for Warner Bros. While the Johnny Depp-starring remake of the classic horror TV series underperformed in the U.S., it made a decent $165 million from international territories. Since then, Burton released the Oscar-nominated animated film Frankenweenie and the Amy Adams vehicle Big Eyes — the box office performances of which can’t be used to gauge Miss Peregrine‘s earning potential, as both were arguably smaller-scale, niche titles gunning for a specific audience, whereas the big-budget picture, produced by Chernin Entertainment for a reported $110 million, has far broader appeal, and has been aggressively marketed by Fox.
Hitting 3,522 theaters with decent reviews, Miss Peregrine boasts an all-star cast (Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Judi Dench), though none of them are proven box office draws; the film will sell itself on Burton’s involvement plus a strong, pre-established audience pooled from fans of the Ransom Riggs book upon which the movie is based. Look for Miss Peregrine to perch atop the box office with a figure in the $20-$25 million range (or higher) this weekend.
2. Deepwater Horizon – $20 million
Mark Wahlberg has a healthy track record with non-franchise action titles like Deepwater Horizon; most recently, he and Berg made magic together with their box office hit Lone Survivor, which grossed $125 million following its December 2013 release. They’re hoping to find success once again on another film that, like their prior collaboration, is based on a harrowing true story.
Deepwater Horizon, which also stars Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez, and John Malkovich, follows the immediate aftermath of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit and subsequent oil spill, which purged nearly 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Following its high-profile debut at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, critics have thus far been kind to the pricey $100-million picture, particularly praising Berg’s direction. Wahlberg’s appeal, strong reviews, and the subject matter’s ability to speak cross-demographically (though older audiences will likely bolster the film’s opening weekend gross) should carry Deepwater Horizon to a figure in the $20 million range (give or take) after it saturates 3,259 theaters (including 371 IMAX screens) on Friday.
3. The Magnificent Seven – $17 million
Though it raked in an impressive $34.7 million for a first-place finish last weekend, Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven will likely slip to No. 3 by the end of its sophomore showing at the domestic box office, thanks (in part) to Deepwater Horizon, another big-budget, PG-13-rated, star-studded actioner eating up a larger-than-usual portion of its audience. The $90 million western remake has, however, generated strong reviews from audiences, which should pad its fall as it heads into its second week. Look for The Magnificent Seven to make anywhere between $15 and $18 million between Friday and Sunday.
4. Storks – $13 million
Warner Bros. Animation’s second major release earned a so-so $21.3 million over its opening weekend — a number that’s more in line with the grosses of other 2016 family titles like Ice Age: Collision Course and Pete’s Dragon than Finding Dory or The Secret Life of Pets. To Storks‘ advantage, however, the film was produced on a relatively modest (for a major animated film) budget of around $70 million, and it has generated solid audience support (it stands at an A- on CinemaScore) on top of grossing a soft $20 million from international markets thus far. Storks won’t be a home run for the studio, but it’s not a total face-plant, either. Look for Storks to fall around 40 percent in its second weekend, landing somewhere in the $11-$14 million range.
5. Sully – $8 million
Across its first three weekends, Clint Eastwood’s Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger biopic dropped below 40 percent from frame-to-frame, indicating broad audience support for the $60 million drama.
As of Thursday, the film’s domestic total hovers just under $100 million, and it’s showing no signs of stopping. Mature audiences typically carry films like this longer than any other demographic, and they should push Sully over the $107 million mark, which would surpass Captain Phillips‘ North American haul to become star Tom Hanks’ highest-grossing live-action film since Angels & Demons made $133 million in 2009. Sully will likely land with around $8 million over its fourth weekend in wide release.
Outside the top 5, Queen of Katwe looks to fare better in wide release than it did on the specialty front. The Disney drama, starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, debuted to a middling $304,933 from 52 theaters last weekend, though a rare A+ CinemaScore from audiences (and the fact it was a runner-up for the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award) indicates broad appeal, so strong word-of-mouth could push the film to a finish in the mid-to-high single digits by Sunday’s end.
Relativity’s Masterminds, which has thus far received poor reviews from critics, is shaping up to gross around $6-$8 million from approximately 2,800 screens.