Box office preview: It's Liam Neeson vs. Jesus
This weekend is a box office wild card.
Liam Neeson is an earnings force unto himself, and his latest turn as an air marshal on a hijacked transatlantic flight in Non-Stop should evict The Lego Movie from its three-weekend stronghold on the No. 1 spot. But the big, looming unknown is Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God. Its weekend prospects have analysts stumped, with estimates ranging anywhere from $12 million to $30 million. And even the high end of that could be wildly off.
With that said, here’s how things might play out. And, to change things up a bit, if you’re so inclined, sound off in the comments with your own top five and estimates for each.
1. Non-Stop — $23 million
Liam Neeson reunites with his Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra for this tense thriller at 30,000 feet, which boasts an impressive supporting cast including Julianne Moore, Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, and Corey Stoll. Universal is releasing the high-octane pic in 3,090 theaters. They acquired the rights from StudioCanal for U.S. and Canada distribution, and it seems to be tracking well with the 25-plus crowd. Reviews have been mild to decent. At press time, its Rotten Tomatoes score was 56 percent. EW’s Chris Nashawaty gave it a B and says, “At a certain point either you’ll fasten your seat belt and go with Non-Stop‘s absurd, Looney Tunes logic or you won’t.”
2. Son of God — $20 million
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey turned their enormously successful History Channel miniseries The Bible (11.7 million viewers tuned in to the Easter Sunday finale) into the basis for a big-screen epic. Son of God chronicles the life of Jesus Christ, portrayed by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, to crucifixion and resurrection all set to a Hans Zimmer score. The PG-13 film is being sold as an event movie, and Downey and Burnett have been on an exhaustive 40-city tour over the past few months screening the film for church groups. Again, I want to stress that I have no idea how this is going to play out. No one does. Analysts say tracking is good — not great — and Fox says it could open in the $12 million to $15 million range but wouldn’t be surprised if it went higher. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ opened a decade ago to a record-shattering $83.8 million, but that film was also covered in buzzy controversy prior to its debut. Reviews haven’t been good (29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but that won’t get in the way of a possibly stellar Oscar-weekend opening. As of midday Thursday, the Fox film represented about 40 percent of Fandango’s advance sales.
3. The Lego Movie — $19 million
After three strong weekends at No. 1, The Lego Movie will likely fall another 35 to 40 percent, but will definitely cross the $200 million mark domestically this weekend. As of Feb. 26, its domestic total was $187 million.
4. 3 Days to Kill — $7 million
Kevin Costner’s McG-directed spy pic opened to a decent $12 million last weekend and will likely fall upward of 40 percent in its second weekend in theaters. The modestly budgeted Relativity pic ($28 million) now has Non-Stop to compete with.
5. Pompeii — $5 million
Director Paul W.S. Anderson’s $100 million 3-D Mount Vesuvius epic failed to impress last weekend with a $10.3 million domestic opening. Don’t be surprised if this one drops off in the 50 percent range in its second weekend in theaters.
In the speciality box office world, the Russian-language 3-D WWII epic Stalingrad rolls out to 300 theaters, thanks to Sony. Some have taken to calling director Fedor Bondarchuk “the Michael Bay of Russia.” It’s also Russia’s highest-grossing movie of all time. We’ll see how U.S. audiences take to the bombastic spectacle.
Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films is releasing the thriller Repentance, starring Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, and Mike Epps, in 152 theaters. And Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises also expands to 450 theaters.
Check back in to EW.com this weekend for estimates and analysis, and don’t forget to list your own top fives in the comments!
3 Days to Kill