Pre-Labor Day stretch to be one of the worst of 2017 so far
More bad news for an already floundering market: With a batch of weak newcomers flooding the mainstream mix, the weekend frame ahead is poised to be one of the slowest of 2017 thus far. Most industry projections indicate that the likeliest contender for a No. 1 finish is last week’s top earner, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which is on pace to lead the domestic chart with a mere $10 million-$12 million. A sub-$19 million gross hasn’t led the North American box office since February, when M. Night Shyamalan’s Split squeaked past Rings to claim the throne in its third week of release.
So just how low will the weekend ahead go? Check out EW’s Aug. 25-27 weekend box office predictions below.
1. The Hitman’s Bodyguard — $12 million
With next to nothing competing for the top slot, Hitman’s Bodyguard’s second weekend grosses will benefit from moviegoers defaulting to the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson action-comedy, simply because it’s the most prominent title in wide release at the moment. With little else for mainstream ticket buyers to choose from and decent word of mouth (B+ on CinemaScore) fueling its run, Hitman’s Bodyguard should occupy the top spot for another frame to the tune of $10 million-$12 million.
2. Annabelle: Creation — $7 million
As the Conjuring-verse expands to include more titles spun off from the main track of the hit horror series, so does its change purse. Already pacing ahead of most other horror titles released this year, Annabelle: Creation opened to a whopping $35 million on a $15 million budget earlier this month and has earned just under $70 million in the U.S. and Canada thus far. The first Annabelle movie — based on a storyline that appeared in the original Conjuring film in 2013 — topped out at $84 million, but with only three frames in the bag so far, Creation is on track to easily best its forerunner’s gross by the end of its run, even as it falls another 50 percent over the three-day stretch to come.
3. Leap! — $5 million
Amid an onslaught of domestic box office disappointments like Cars 3 and The Emoji Movie, the current state of animation has left plenty to be desired, and Leap is doing little to reverse the downward trend. Releasing to approximately 2,000 theaters this Friday, Leap features an eclectic voice cast — including Carly Rae Jepsen, Elle Fanning, Mel Brooks, and Kate McKinnon — and a thumping soundtrack (“Cut to the Feeling” is an undeniable bop), but the film has hardly carved out a unique lane for itself in a market crowded by familiar franchises. With critical reviews heading south, Leap is looking to gross in the $4 million-$6 million range through Sunday.
4. Logan Lucky — $5 million
After debuting to an underwhelming $8 million last weekend, Steven Soderbergh’s feature directorial comeback (from a four-year hiatus) shouldn’t be written off as a total flop just yet. Soderbergh released Logan Lucky via an unorthodox yet cost-effective alternative strategy, which eliminated big studio involvement and saw foreign and non-theatrical distribution rights sold off to fund a targeted marketing campaign to offset the film’s modest $29 million budget. That means the director had more creative freedom while making the film and now has less risk when it comes to recouping production costs. Adult-oriented movies tend to shed smaller portions of their debut numbers in subsequent weeks, and Logan Lucky should similarly see a modest decline in the days ahead.
5. Wind River — $4.5 million
In the wake of opening to a strong $40,390 per-screen average in limited release, Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River has carried the momentum through to its nationwide expansion, earning nearly $3 million on screens around the country last week. With Oscar prospects in tow, Wind River is following in the footsteps of last year’s Sheridan-penned Hell or High Water, which received multiple Academy Award nominations — including one for Best Picture — after dazzling on the specialty front throughout August. Sheridan’s new crime-thriller, which sees Elizabeth Olsen playing an FBI agent investigating a grisly murder on a Native American reservation alongside a local game trapper (Jeremy Renner), has accumulated stellar reviews, and strong word of mouth has driven the Weinstein Co. to rapidly expand the film’s footprint. Expect the addition of more theaters this weekend to bolster another solid showing for Wind River, likely between $3 million and $4 million.
Outside the top five, BH Tilt will unleash Birth of the Dragon via its targeted release method, hoping Bruce Lee fans will flock to the stylized take on the action icon’s life as it debuts at 1,617 sites.
The faith-based drama All Saints, starring John Corbett, also sets its sights on a specific demographic this weekend, and Christian audiences have proven their box office might in the past, especially on recent titles like Miracles From Heaven and Heaven Is for Real. The only problem is that All Saints lacks a star with the profile of Miracles’ Jennifer Garner and Real’s Greg Kinnear, and the film has done little to set itself apart from similarly themed brethren.
Other titles expanding to more locations include Robert Pattinson’s well-received Good Time, which has earned the former Twilight star some of the best reviews of his career, and the Aubrey Plaza-starrer Ingrid Goes West. Both of those films push on Friday, while smaller titles like Juliette Binoche’s Polina and the Korean actioner The Villainess look to land sturdy per-theater averages in limited release.