Weekend Box Office Predictions: Can Jumanji Beat Newcomers?

The Commuter
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It’s yet another holiday weekend in the US of A (must be nice), which is a “high-fives all around” situation for show business. They intend to take advantage of it, too, with three new wide releases and a nationwide expansion on deck. Of course, in these situations one movie’s bound to perform fine-to-miserable, so let’s dig in.

 

The Commuter (Lionsgate)

Liam Neeson returns to his kind of reliable roost, playing a mild-mannered man getting into angry-mannered situations. He has yet to match the success of the Taken franchise (which grossed a somewhat shocking $929.5 million globally from three movies) and his last notable lead outings weren’t impressive – 2014’s A Walk Among the Tombstones ($26.31m) could be excused given it’s more of a crime drama, but 2015’s Run All Night ($26.46m) was in his wheelhouse and that doesn’t do any favours here. Neeson’s last non-Taken actioner that could be considered successful was 2014’s Non-Stop ($92.17m), whose director (it’s worth noting he too did Run All Night) has re-teamed with Neeson for The Commuter.

There’s precious little here that suggests The Commuter will break out, especially given competition from new releases and a smattering of holdovers. It’s obvious that the novelty of Liam Neeson knocking out schmoes has worn off, but there ought to be a segment of the population who revels in it and that’s where The Commuter will shine. As for general audiences, it’s kind of a “well, if there’s nothing else…” situation, given the movie’s mixed 53% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.7/10 score on IMDb (albeit that IMDb score is from an unreliable >200 ratings). Alas, I think there’s enough here – familiar faces in Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill among others – plus the holiday weekend to prevent a Run All Night situation, but if there’s a movie that’s going to flop this weekend it’s probably this one.

Prediction: $13 million (#6 rank, 3-day), $16 million (4-day)

 

Paddington 2 (Warner Bros.)

Paddington bear. Creepy-ass goddamn bear.

Anyway, the first Paddington flick was a pleasant surprise, opening to $18.97 million in 2015 and legging to $76.27m stateside (and $268.05m globally). It was also universally well-liked, thus logic dictates Paddington 2 will benefit from that goodwill. Oh, and Paddington 2 is similarly well-liked as its predecessor, notching a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a great 8.1/10 score on IMDb from >7,700 ratings. Also helping the cause is the lack of animated family fare since Fox’s Ferdinand, which didn’t set the world on fire.

Paddington’s biggest competition is Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but they’re different enough to co-exist just fine.

Prediction: $21 million (#3 rank, 3-day), $25 million (4-day)

 

Proud Mary (Sony)

I think, in some alternate timeline, Proud Mary would’ve struck a big chord and found John Wick levels of cult success. That timeline would’ve been swell. You might think it’s strange that I seem to be writing off this movie prior to release, and you may be right, but Sony has taken the peculiar position of not just holding a review embargo; no, it’s a little worse – they aren’t screening the movie for critics period, aka it’s time to play “guess how bad this movie will end up being.”

I could very well be wrong and it’s preferable I am, but things aren’t looking rosy for Proud Mary from a reception standpoint. On paper, it’s a sound concept: get a popular actress like Taraji P. Henson to play lead role in action movie oriented for an under-served audience. On a financial level, Screen Gems has made a niche for itself by producing movies that target African-American demographics and they usually find success. Henson has starred in a few of those features herself, i.e., 2012’s Think Like a Man ($91.55m), 2014’s Think Like a Man Too ($65.18m) and that same year’s No Good Deed ($52.54m). Proud Mary carries a pretty reasonable $14m production cost as well, so it doesn’t need to do be anywhere near blockbuster numbers to make bank.

Henson’s opening average is $20.76m, a figure Proud Mary could feasibly do over/under during the 4-day weekend. Last year’s Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron, opened with $18.29m, though that had (presumably) better reception and a summertime slot. Henson’s star power should carry Proud Mary for a bit, but it’s doubtful it’ll be a leggy venture, especially with the saturated marketplace. Lest the movie’s amazing, that is.

Prediction: $16 million (#4 rank, 3-day), $19 million (4-day)

 

The Post (Fox)

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is at an advantage – thus far, the Pentagon Papers movie starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep has earned $4.35 million from just 36 theatres, another impressive metric along with its 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On IMDb, The Post carries a less impressive 6.9/10 score from >2,200 ratings. Still, a movie regarded as politically timely holds a decent future in 2018.

There isn’t too much to say about this one, really. It’s a supposedly good movie made by some of the most competent individuals in Hollywood. The Post racked up a healthy dose of Golden Globes nominations, but didn’t manage to snag any victories. Conversely, it’ll be on the radar as awards season progresses, which can only help. Spielberg movies tend to leg out, too. Look for this to perform a bit better than Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, which managed $72.31m off a $15.37m opening.

Prediction: $22 million (#2 rank, 3-day), $26 million (4-day)

 

HOLDOVERS

© Sony Pictures

1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) – $26.1 million (-30%, 3-day), $32 million (4-day), $288m cume
5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) – $14.2 million (-40%, 3-day), $18 million (4-day), $598.3m cume
7. Insidious: The Last Key (Universal) – $11.8 million (-60%, 3-day), $14 million (4-day), $50.1m cume
8. The Greatest Showman (Fox) – $10.3 million (-25%, 3-day), $13 million (4-day), $95.7m cume
9. Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal) – $6.2 million (-40%, 3-day), $8 million (4-day), $97m cume
10. Darkest Hour (Focus) – $5.2 million (-15%, 3-day), $7 million (4-day), $38.2m cume