Box office preview: Apes go to war with Spider-Man for top spot
Horror flick 'Wish Upon' and Kumail Nanjiani's 'The Big Sick' also generate heat
It’s a battle of the species at the box office this weekend, but there’s only room for one critter class to stake a claim atop the domestic throne. Can the web-head’s arachnid aerobatics fend off a swarm of primate revolutionaries as Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes square off in the days ahead?
Here’s how the July 14-16 weekend box office showdown could play out.
1 – War for the Planet of the Apes – $55 million
Quality blockbusters are the name of the game this year, as 2017 has seen the likes of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, and Logan soar to new heights with critics and audiences across successful theatrical runs. War for the Planet of the Apes continues the precedent set by its contemporary forerunners (2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes both rubbed film journalists the right way, too), coupling positive reception with continued fan anticipation for one of the most exciting film series of the moment. The last two Apes titles amassed $54.8 million and $72.6 million across their opening weekends, respectively, and as the series’ widest release ever (War opens at 4,022 locations), the latest installment should find a healthy opening between those figures as Homecoming, while cooling off from its $117 million bow, eats into the film’s opening figure thanks to similar demographic appeal.
2 – Spider-Man: Homecoming – $51 million
Last week’s box office champion swings into its second weekend with healthy midweek numbers bolstering its bid for the No. 2 slot on the forthcoming chart, with the film pulling in between $10 million and $15 million from Monday through Wednesday. As mighty as its freshman outing was, most big-budget superhero films don’t uphold the momentum over their sophomore frame, and drops in the 50-65 percent range are likely. In June, Wonder Woman proved to be an exception to the rule when it shed a soft 43 percent from week one to week two, though that can be attributed to its status as a timely, female-fronted (and directed) action epic at a time when the industry is calling for more women in front of and behind the camera on major studio productions. Homecoming is cut from a more traditional cloth, and like most of its comic book cohorts, will dip to a figure in the $48 million-$55 million range in the days ahead.
3 – Despicable Me 3 – $17 million
The family animated juggernaut has grossed nearly $500 million worldwide, though its domestic haul is shaping up to be the lowest of the Despicable Me clan to date. Another victim of sequel fatigue in the U.S. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales stooped to a new series low upon failing to crack the $200 million domestic mark earlier this summer), Despicable Me 3 has performed well overseas, meaning another edition (beyond the planned Minons sequel) could spring up in the near future.
4 – The Big Sick – $10 million
After an impressive run in limited release, Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick is shaping up for a solid debut in wide release as it preps to land at just under 2,600 sites this Friday. Having maintained stellar per-theater averages since its June 23 bow (it has fluctuated between $10,971 and $84,315), the Sundance hit needs to make a strong impression on the mainstream market if Amazon and Lionsgate want to translate its enthusiastic reception into Oscar nominations in the months ahead. Critical reviews — which have largely been raves for the Michael Showalter-directed picture — only lay half the foundation for an awards contender’s trajectory, and if audiences support the project the way the industry has, Nanjiani could be looking at his first Academy Award nomination for his original screenplay, based on his real-life courtship with wife (and Big Sick co-writer) Emily V. Gordon. Substantial underground buzz should be enough to launch The Big Sick into wide release with a monetary bang.
5 – Baby Driver – $9 million
Perhaps the surprise hit of the summer, Baby Driver has racked up an impressive $62.8 million over its 15-day run thus far, landing a $20.6 million opening take well above modest expectations. With an attractive cast (Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Sky Ferreira) and an even flashier marketing campaign, Baby Driver should continue its glacial downshift as a buzzy pop cultural sensation after it lost a mere 36 percent of its audience last week.
Outside the top five, Broad Green’s modestly budgeted horror flick Wish Upon should be able to clear its $12 million production costs by the end of its run, most likely topping off at around $7 million by the end of the three-day stretch ahead.
On the specialty front, Roadside Attractions is revealing its Lady Macbeth in limited release following a well-received turn on the festival circuit last year, which began in Toronto and carried through London and Sundance in subsequent months. Expect the period picture to attract the mature set for a decent per-theater gross by Sunday’s end.