There are a few guarantees I can offer you in this lifetime: we live, we’re exiled to hideous humidity till the end of days, and there will be seemingly transgressive movies that just straight up blow. It is foretold.
A.X.L. (Global Road)
These past two weeks have seen just as many live-action dog flicks, something one would typically view as a cinematic purgatory of sorts, but they’ve actually been received fine critically (also financial busts, but you win some and lose some). A.X.L. kind of pushes the quality line, offering a nondescript boy befriending a cyborg war dog. Which would be fantastic if it were a hard-R affair, but this movie is for the tots, so here we are.
There aren’t any reviews for this, which is never a terrific sign. Perhaps more strikingly is that its studio, Global Road, is reportedly in dire straits at the moment, not helped by A.X.L.’s minimal 1,710 venue count. No budget information on this one, but it’s currently looking like a bomb in line with Global Road’s Collide ($1.5m debut), back when they were branded Open Road. It’s never great when a lower-key studio is put through the ringer, but there’s simply no interest here. A per-theatre average akin to this month’s fellow dog flop, LD Entertainment’s Dog Days ($1,046 from 2,442 hubs), suggests around $1.8m for A.X.L. this weekend. I’ll be a mild optimist and say it can creep a teensy bit higher.
Prediction: $2 million, #10 rank
The Happytime Murders (STX)
It was hard to envision The Happytime Murders, from the beloved Jim Henson Company, being a masterpiece. But it sure would’ve been great if it were, because what we’re getting is apparently hot garbage.
Not that Happytime Murders doesn’t have anything else going for it. It is, if anything, full of novelty – it’s such a strange concept that anyone who’s ever seen anything remotely Henson-related will raise their eyebrows, and awareness is key. It’s the same principle that propelled Sony’s Sausage Party to a $34.26m opening in August 2016. Having Melissa McCarthy, generally reliable for a buck and change (granted, maybe less so these days), doesn’t hurt either.
If this were legitimately good, somewhere over $30 million wouldn’t be out of the question. Given current reception, odds are McCarthy’s release this summer, Life of the Party ($17.89m debut), suggests the ceiling. Happytime Murders is anticipated to open around $13m-$15m and I’m thinking the middle may be the sweet spot here. Regardless, this cost $40m to produce and it’s a super-wide (3,256 theatres) release so it’s not ideal. Plus that “Sex. Murder. Puppets.” tagline is just vile.
Prediction: $14 million, #2 rank
1. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) – $17.2 million (-35%), $68.8m cume 3. The Meg (Warner Bros.) – $11.6 million (-45%), $104.1m cume 4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Paramount) – $7 million (-35%), $192.9m cume 5. Alpha (Sony) – $6.2 million (-40%), $20.9m cume 6. Mile 22 (STX) – $6.2 million (-55%), $25.3m cume 7. Christopher Robin (Disney) – $5.8 million (-35%), $77.2m cume 8. BlacKkKlansman (Focus) – $4.8 million (-35%), $31.5m cume 9. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Sony) – $2.6 million (-30%), $158.8m cume
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