There’s no question that Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake — undoubtedly one of the year’s most anticipated titles — will claim a No. 1 debut as it storms theaters nationwide this Friday. The only mystery that remains is whether the film will notch the highest-ever opening weekend for a movie released in March. The record currently sits with Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which claimed $166 million almost exactly one year ago.
Can Disney overthrow the DC Comics legends in the days ahead? Check out EW’s March 17-19 box office predictions below.
1 – Beauty and the Beast – $180 million
As Disney has proven in the past, nostalgia can push live-action adaptations of animated classics to soaring new heights with a new, younger generation of moviegoers. The studio has a winning track record of successfully translating characters and stories from its beloved cartoon filmography for contemporary audiences, with hits like 2014’s Maleficent and 2016’s The Jungle Book pulling in huge numbers worldwide ($758.5 million and $966.6 million, respectively) in recent years.
Beauty and the Beast — starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, and Luke Evans — has a much larger base of pre-established fans to cull monolithic ticket sales from, however, as the 1991 film upon which it’s based became the first animated title to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture, while its songs and overall presence in pop culture have arguably endured better than the legacies of its aforementioned studio brethren.
Disney’s robust marketing campaign has made director Bill Condon’s interpretation of the popular story virtually unmissable on television and computer screens around the world, and its Fandango presales are currently pacing ahead of similar family-oriented pictures including Finding Dory ($135.1 million opening) and Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million opening). Though the grosses of big-budget releases are notoriously difficult to predict (especially when they’re expected to exceed $100 million), industry forecasts suggest Beast is pacing to pull in a number above both titles when the $160 million film hits 4,210 theaters Friday.
2 – Kong: Skull Island – $29 million
The most prominent casualty of Beauty and the Beast‘s impending box office domination will likely be Legendary and Warner Bros.’ latest entry in the King Kong franchise, which premiered atop the North American chart last week with a solid $61 million. Tentpole actioners like Kong typically fall in excess of 50 percent from weeek-to-week as it is, let alone with one of the biggest movies of the year opening at the top of its sophomore weekend in theaters. No matter how hard cinema’s mightiest primate tumbles, the film is still a global success, having grossed over $160 million thus far, with a bow in the traditionally lucrative Chinese market still on deck for March 24.
Expect Kong to dip around 50-60 percent through Sunday for a weekend finish in the $28-32 million range.
3. Logan – $19 million
Hugh Jackman’s third and final Wolverine spin-off saw the franchise actor bow out of the X-Men series on a high note, having notched the fourth best opening weekend in history for a March release. While it shed 57 percent of its audience from week one to week two, it has posted stellar numbers overseas, racking up an astonishing $460 million in just under two weeks. Its significant drop against Kong last week suggests it will likely traverse a similar path in the days ahead, ending the three-day frame with a number roughly half the size of last weekend’s $38 million take.
4. Get Out – $13 million
Get Out could end up as the biggest box office success story of the year. Made on a minuscule budget of $4.5 million, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut has amassed $117.8 million to date and continues to see its weekend number diminish by only small percentages. As the most prominent horror title on the market (The Belko Experiment is only launching at 1,341 sites), Get Out should enjoy yet another minimal decline between Friday and Sunday.
5. The Belko Experiment – $7.5 million
Yes, it’s a bold prediction, but it’s not beyond reason.
It’s important to note that industry forecasts have pegged the latest Orion Pictures release (in collaboration with BH Tilt) for an opening weekend in the $3-4 million range — a number the distributor suggests would spell success for the low-budgeted genre flick. Still, with a targeted publicity approach aimed squarely at horror fans, Belko could push higher thanks to its buzzy premise (office workers are locked inside a high-rise and instructed to murder each other) and effective trailers.
While it’s only playing at a little over 1,300 theaters, Belko boasts solid pedigree (director Greg McLean previously helmed 2005’s cult hit Wolf Creek, while writer James Gunn penned the screenplay for 2014’s smash Guardians of the Galaxy and 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake), and its marketing push has seemingly been more robust than previous BH Tilt releases like The Darkness (also from McLean) and Incarnate.
Casual audiences might still be riding high on the thrills found in Get Out, but Belko‘s blood-spattered premise should be enough to net a decent number of genre die-hards for a weekend figure above forecasters’ modest projections.
RELATED: Trainspotting: Where Are They Now?
Elsewhere, Danny Boyle returns to the Trainspotting universe with a sequel that assembles the first film’s cast (including Ewan McGregor) for a new romp some 21 years later. After a lukewarm reception at SXSW, Terrence Malick’s Song to Song also hits a limited number of theaters this Friday. Both films should tally decent per-theater averages from a handful of locations each.