February has become increasingly viable for tentpole fare these past few years, mostly thanks to 2016’s Deadpool, which rung in $132.43m over the 3-day weekend and $152.19m over the 4-day President’s Day weekend. That in itself was a massive overperformance and something that went unchallenged up till this point. You know what we’re talking about.
Black Panther (Disney)
If there’s anything that can topple a Marvel character’s record grosses, it’s another Marvel character. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther isn’t your run-of-the-mill Marvel blockbuster; rather, it’s a genuine event. It’s going to be huge.
Black Pantheris, arguably, the largest movie featuring a predominantly black cast, with a production cost at a reported $200 million. It’s the largest superhero movie featuring a black protagonist (sorry, Steel). And, the cherry on top, it’s supposed to be pretty great. We live in a divided social landscape, many of us eager for hope and stories that shed light on timely issues, and a movie like Black Panther is a fantastic avenue to bring people together. The movie is resoundingly hitting a cultural nerve, not unlike Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Womanlast year, which opened to $103.25m on its way to $412.56m domestic/$821.85m global. Tracking for Pantherhas been steadily increasing over the past while – initially thought to debut in the range of Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange($85.06m), industry news sources are putting Black Pantherin the vicinity of $155-170m over the 4-day weekend, massive numbers. IMAX pre-sales for Black Pantherhave eclipsed every other Marvel flick and the momentum hasn’t ceased. Plus, this is the lead-in flick to the hugely-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War.
None of this is to say that an opening of “just” $100m-ish is a disappointment. Movies like Black Panther have purpose beyond box office figures, which itself gives financial strength (e.g., Jordan Peele’s Get Outhas earned $176.03m off a $33.38m debut, a whopping 5.27x multiple). Black Pantherbreaking records is more of a symbolic notion than an indicator of financial success (though it is both), but falling short of, say, Deadpool‘s 4-day weekend isn’t in any way a detriment to the movie’s importance.
That said, odds are this will beat Deadpool’s 4-day weekend.
Prediction: $140 million (#1 rank), $165 million (4-day)
*UPDATE: Deadline reports Black Panther earned around $25m from Thursday showings, tying 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Expect Panther to earn over $165m+ over the 3-day and a 4-day possibly approaching $200m.
Early Man (Lionsgate)
God love Aardman, one of the funnest names of any studio to speak out loud. They’ve brought us delightful claymation including 2000’s Chicken Run ($106.83m) and the Wallace and Gromit series. Their latest, paleo-adventure Early Man, looks to be similarly enjoyable.
With that, one can’t help but notice Aardman’s not-so-delightful box office numbers. They’re decently lucrative, I’m sure, but Chicken Run is their only flick to post over $100m in the U.S./Canada. The average gross for an Aardman movie this decade is $32.29m, with an average debut gross of $9.08m. Aardman is akin to Laika in the sense that their movies are well-liked without being box office smashes, a niche both studios seem comfortable in, to be fair. Early Manwill be facing competition from Black Pantherand last weekend’s Peter Rabbit, which overperformed with a $25.01m debut.
Overall, expect Early Manto fall roughly in line (or maybe a little short) with Aardman’s recent performances.
Prediction: $8 million (#4 rank), $10 million (4-day)
Samson (Pure Flix)
There was a time where religious epics were popular and we’re in a time where they’re really not. I think this is exemplified well by the two (well, three, but we’ll exclude the 1925 one) Ben-Hur movies – the 1959 flick earned $74m during initial release, or $899.64m when adjusted for inflation; conversely, the 2016 remake earned $26.41m. So there’s that.
Pure Flix specializes in religious cinema and that’s worked well for them, despite their average gross being $8.59m. That’s offset by the generally thrifty budgets of their movies. There isn’t any budget information for Samson, though it looks a bit more expensive than their usual dramas, and there’s a review embargo on the thing so it’s likely terrible.
It’s difficult to see Samson reaching out to general audiences when there are so many options on the table. Here’s hoping it was cheap.
Prediction: $4 million (#8 rank), $5 million (4-day)
2. Fifty Shades Freed (Universal) – $15.4 million (-60%), $17 million (4-day), $74m cume 3. Peter Rabbit (Sony) – $15 million (-40%), $17 million (4-day) $48.6m cume 5. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(Sony) – $6.5 million (-35%), $7.5 million (4-day), $376.4m cume 6. The 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros.) – $6.3 million (-50%), $7.5 million (4-day), $24.2m cume 7. The Greatest Showman(Fox) – $5.2 million (-20%), $6 million (4-day), $155m cume 9. Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Fox) – $3.4 million (3-day), $4 million (4-day), $55.1m cume 10. The Post(Fox) – $2.7 million (-25%), $3.5 million (4-day), $78m cume
As usual, thanks for reading! How do you think the new releases will fare? Comment below and check back next week for final results!