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Inferno box office predictions: Tom Hanks film to catch fire at number one

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Jonathan Prime; Columbia Pictures; Courtesy Everett Collection

Inferno, Ron Howard’s third film in the long-running Robert Langdon series, debuts as the only new wide release hitting North American screens this weekend. Starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones, the film has big shoes to fill, as its predecessors, 2006’s The Da Vinci Code and 2009’s Angels & Demons, grossed $217.5 million and $133.4 million domestically.

Though the action-adventure flick won’t pull in numbers strong enough to align it with its forerunners, it faces little competition for the top spot, as last weekend’s champion, Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, is on pace for a hefty tumble heading into its sophomore weekend. 

Check out what the Oct. 28-30 weekend box office chart could look like on Sunday: 

1. Inferno – $30 million 

Approaching the fourth decade of his career, Hanks continues his streak as one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men. Five of his films released in the last decade have grossed over $100 million in North America alone, and he recently topped the box office as the star of Clint Eastwood’s Sully, which has thus far earned $180 million worldwide (and counting). 

Inferno could see Hanks securing his second $30 million-plus weekend of 2016, after Sully overperformed to the tune of $35 million in September.

The threequel, released 10 years after the first film in the Robert Langdon series (based on the books by Dan Brown), 2006’s The Da Vinci Code, has already made a solid imprint on the international front. The $75 million production has already crossed the $100 million worldwide mark before it opens on domestic screens, debuting at No. 1 in 64 global markets over its first 10 days in release, including Germany, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and Italy, with major territories (China, Japan, France) on deck. 

With Hanks, Columbia Pictures, and Imagine Entertainment in full promotional mode (the actor hosted last week’s edition of Saturday Night Live, which pulled in a 6.1 metered market rating, the highest of season 42 thus far, while heavy TV advertising continues to drive audience interest), Inferno should top the domestic chart with around $28-32 million this weekend. 

2. Boo! A Madea Halloween – $14 million 

Perry knows how to connect with a niche audience. Each of his Madea films, which often blend faith-based sentiment with the long-running man-in-a-dress sight gag, have opened to at least $16 million at the weekend box office since the series launched with 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Boo! was no exception, as it grossed an impressive $28.5 million over its first three days in theaters. 

Similarly, as is tradition for the series, Boo! will crash (hard) this weekend. Perry’s films (regardless of the Madea affiliation) tend to be front-loaded, with around 50-60 percent of audiences jumping ship across subsequent weeks. Madea’s Family Reunion dropped 57.9 percent from its $30 million opening in 2006; 2012’s Witness Protection dipped 60 percent from its $25.4 million debut, and Madea Goes to Jail lost 60.6 percent of its $41 million premiere (a series high) during week No. 2. 

Boo!‘s holiday tie-in could pad its fall in the coming days (it grossed a solid $1.8 million on Monday), but it’s still safe to bet on the latest Madea flick to cross the finish line with around $12-15 million.  

3. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – $11.5 million 

After 35 years of starring in major motion pictures, Tom Cruise proved he’s still capable of pulling in decent first-week numbers for major action vehicles with the $22.9 million opening of the Jack Reacher sequel last weekend. Though it opened to about $8 million more than its predecessor, Never Go Back will be lucky to reach three-quarters of the first Reacher film’s $80 million domestic gross after its Dec. 2012 release, as it doesn’t have the luxury of debuting during the traditionally-lucrative winter holiday season.

The $60 million picture was well-received by audiences (its B+ grade on CinemaScore indicates decent reaction) even if critics weren’t as enthused (it stands at a 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), meaning a drop in line with the superstar’s previous non-franchise action efforts like Knight & Day, Oblivion, and Edge of Tomorrow (between 42-52 percent) is in store.

Look for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back to finish the weekend in the $10-14 million range.

4. The Accountant – $7.5 million 

Ben Affleck’s The Accountant solidified its staying power last weekend, dropping a light 45 percent from week one to week two, despite strong competition from fellow male-fronted actioner Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Strong audience reception (it received a rare A grade on CinemaScore) indicates sustained interest in the $44 million flick, which also stars Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick and Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons. The Accountant will keep a steady pace as it descends through the top 5 this weekend, likely raking in a little under $8 million by Sunday.

5. Ouija: Origin of Evil – $7 million 

Though it received better-than-average critical reviews upon its debut last week, Ouija: Origin of Evil failed to impress the crowds it attracted across its opening weekend. The film earned a dismal C grade on CinemaScore from polled audience members, which echoes the poor reception of films like September’s Blair Witch sequel (D+) and May’s The Darkness (C) earlier this year. 

Both Blair Witch and The Darkness tumbled over 54 percent, and, under normal circumstances, Ouija: Origin of Evil would do the same. There is a bright spot working in the film’s favor, however: it is the only major horror title on the market in the final weekend before Halloween, meaning moviegoers seeking a genre title to satiate their holiday thirst have nowhere else to turn.

Still, with relatively weak numbers on Monday (it grossed a middling $848,545 for a per-screen average of $277), the inexpensive $9.9 million prequel could drop in the 45-60 percent range, regardless. 

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