Romance is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, but will audiences snuggle up to this weekend’s batch of box office contenders? With three major wide releases saturating theaters this Friday, patrons have a diverse palette to choose from; will Fifty Shades Darker attract the record throngs Fifty Shades of Grey did across the same period nearly two years ago? Can John Wick: Chapter 2 outperform its predecessor’s solid domestic performance to claim the No. 1 slot? Or will The LEGO Batman Movie swoop ahead in the box office battle?
Here’s what the Feb. 10-12 box office chart might look like at the end of the week.
1. The LEGO Batman Movie – $70 million
The LEGO Batman Movie finds itself in an interesting situation as it prepares to launch at over 4,000 locations this weekend. Neither a traditional sequel (it’s a spin-off of Warner Bros. Animation’s LEGO Movie, which posted an impressive $69 million in ticket sales over its opening weekend in 2014) nor a continuation of the current live-action Batman narrative, the film’s inherently quirky premise lends itself well to cross-demographic appeal without being chained to the expectations of a specific, preestablished audience.
This leaves plenty of room for the film to carve a lane for itself among blockbuster studio releases. On a budget of $80 million, the family film’s bar for success is lower than similar releases from Disney, Pixar, and Fox, though, if The LEGO Movie‘s grosses are any indication, the film should easily clear that number over its first few days in wide release.
Entering around 3,400 locations for Thursday previews before launching in approximately 60 territories worldwide (save for China, Australia, and Japan, where it will debut throughout the spring), the film is poised to become a global hit in the coming days as well, with little else standing in its way in terms of family-oriented fare. Look for The LEGO Batman Movie to make anywhere between $60-$80 million this weekend.
2. Fifty Shades Darker – $42 million
The first film in the Fifty Shades franchise courted $85 million worth of audience affection over the Valentine’s Day weekend back in 2015, but can the series’ sophomore entry, hitting an estimated 3,705 sites Friday, woo the crowds back again? Industry forecasts suggest the sequel is tracking for a gross well below its forerunner, but there’s a logical explanation; Fifty Shades of Grey opened atop a four-day weekend against a single wide competitor (Kingsman: The Secret Service), whereas Darker debuts over a traditional three-day period against two other high-profile releases.
Still, Darker will attract a core group of female moviegoers and fans of the E.L. James book series alike this weekend, even if movie critics aren’t exactly on the film’s side. Expect Fifty Shades Darker to cross the $40 million mark through Sunday.
3. John Wick: Chapter 2 – $18.5 million
The original John Wick became a contemporary cult classic at a breakneck pace, grossing a healthy $14.4 million over its opening weekend in 2014 — star Keanu Reeves’ best debut since his sci-fi venture The Day the Earth Stood Still bowed to $30 million back in 2008. Similarly defying expectations — not only for an action flick, but for a sequel — Chapter 2 has notched some of the best reviews of Reeves’ career, as the film currently sits at 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 74 percent on Meteoritic. With palpable fan anticipation driving strong pre-release buzz, Chapter 2 could premiere to a number in the $16 million-$20 million range (or higher) with a little help from Thursday night previews.
4. Split – $7.2 million
After holding the peak position for three consecutive weeks, M. Night Shyamalan’s reigning box office champion will relinquish its title to one of this week’s new releases as it drops to the back half of the top five. Its run thus far has been impressive, however; across 19 days in theaters, it only left the top spot once, when the horror sequel Rings’ squeezed out a narrow victory last Friday.
To date, Split, made on a budget of $9 million, has earned $101.1 million in the U.S. and Canada, with a worldwide total approaching $145 million as of Tuesday. With so many new titles gunning for audience attention over a crowded weekend, expect Split to fall around 50 percent for a fourth-frame finish between $7 million and $8 million.
5. Hidden Figures – $6.5 million
Fueled by strong word-of-mouth and heavy awards season buzz, Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures has firmly cemented its status as the top-grossing best picture contender of the calendar year, finally surpassing La La Land‘s robust figure last weekend. Both films remain the only 2016 best picture candidates to have crossed the $100 million mark, with Figures tallying $121.5 million and La La Land earning $119.7 million to date.
As it aims to spend its sixth straight week in the domestic top five, Hidden Figures could endure its largest week-to-week decline since its Jan. 6 nationwide expansion, slipping between 30 percent and 40 percent to about $6.5 million for the weekend amid an onslaught of new titles.
Outside the top five, Amma Asante’s timely, racially charged drama A United Kingdom should pull in decent numbers from four locations through Sunday. The Fox Searchlight festival title debuted at TIFF last September before traveling to similar events in London and Stockholm throughout the fall. It has earned glowing reviews from movie critics, particularly for the lead performances from Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo as Ruth Williams and Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana, a couple who, in the late 1940s, endured intense public scrutiny for their interracial relationship.