Weekend Box Office Predictions: Freed From Fifty Shades

Fifty Shades Freed
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Last weekend wasn’t exactly great, but the Super Bowl is as good an excuse as any. The weekend following tends to get a bump, what with moviegoers taking time to catch what they missed. There are three new releases waiting for them, each appealing to different demographics and likely to do well-to-okay.

 

Fifty Shades Freed (Universal)

You know, there’s something to be said for a film franchise adapted from a book series predicated on eccentric sex and molded from Twilight fanfiction to be an unquestionable success, regardless of your stance on it.

Fifty Shades of Grey opened to $85.17 million in 2015 (a February record until Fox’s Deadpool handily eclipsed it) and closed with $166.17m domestic/$571.01m global off a modest $40m production cost. Last year’s Fifty Shades Darker opened to $46.61m on its way to $114.58m domestic/$381.13m global off a $55m production cost. Where does this leave the supposed grand finale, Fifty Shades Freed?

For starters, it’s apparently fucking awful, but is that truly surprising? The first film carries a 25% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the second has 10%, so Freed is kind of just playing to the franchise’s usual (the usual being a downward spiral, but anyway). This isn’t a series that plays to critics and it’s pretty good at reaching out to its core audience, especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. As for numbers, an opening decline akin to Darker from Grey (-45.3%) would give Freed a rather underwhelming $25.49m haul, which is unlikely. Industry analysts peg the film at around $35m-$40m, perhaps leaning closer to $40m if the “finale” factor drives fans to see it right away. Plus, never underestimate the spending power of folks into bizarre relationships with plenty of bondage.

Prediction: $38 million, #1 rank

 

Peter Rabbit (Sony)

If Fifty Shades Freed isn’t the type of thing you want to see with your children, Sony’s dropping their live-action/animation hybrid Peter Rabbit. Reception for Rabbit has been merely okay, but it’s a timeless tale, damn it, and those tend to make bank.

Warner Bros.’ Paddington 2 appealed to largely the same demographic and kind of flubbed with $36.88m in the U.S./Canada and counting, but the first film earned $76.27m if that helps. Peter Rabbit is also a whole lot more recognizable to North American audiences than Paddington bear. Sony spend a reasonable $50m on the thing, so it doesn’t have to be a breakout smash, although it ought to do fairly well. The first Paddington earned $18.97m over its 3-day weekend and $25.49m over the 4-day (’twas a holiday, you see), figures Peter Rabbit should at least approach. It looks like a nice piece of fluff and the lack of serious competition (aside from Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther, which is set to dominate all, and Aardman’s Early Man probably won’t pose much of a threat) should keep it chugging for a bit.

Prediction: $22 million, #2 rank

 

The 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros.)

Clint Eastwood, as a director, is responsible for some terrific cinematic fare, including 1992’s masterwork Unforgiven, 2003’s Mystic River, and 2008’s Gran Torino, and he’s had his fair share of box office hits, most recent being 2014’s American Sniper ($350.13m domestic/$547.43m global off a $58.8m production cost). The 15:17 to Paris won’t fit into either category.

Warner Bros. decided not to give it an earlier, awards-qualifying release, which is slightly damning. Oh, and it’s been mangled, thus far being the lowest-rated film Eastwood has ever been involved with. A chief complaint is summarized well by Jake Coyle of the Associated Press, “…zoom out a little and it’s hard not to see Eastwood’s America-centric focus in The 15:17 to Paris as self-serving.” Such focus should perform fine in flyover states, but it may limit the film’s international appeal, especially given its poor critical reception. A recent comparison would be Warner’s own 12 Strong, which opened last month to $15.82m and has earned $38.38m domestic/$47.08m global as of this writing. Clint Eastwood is a big name and he might draw some American Sniper fans to theatres, but things aren’t looking rosy for Paris, despite the “true story” appeal. If there’s a silver lining, the film carries a reported $30m production cost, meaning it doesn’t need to come close to a movie like Sniper.

Prediction: $14 million, #3 rank

 

HOLDOVERS

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4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) – $8.2 million (-25%), $364m cume
5. The Greatest Showman (Fox) – $6.9 million (-10%), $147m cume
6. Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Fox) – $5.8 million (-45%), $49m cume
7. Winchester (Lionsgate) – $4.65 million (-50%), $16.9m cume
8. The Post (Fox) – $3.9 million (-25%), $73.2m cume
9. The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) – $3.8 million (-15%), $50.6m cume
10. Hostiles (Entertainment) – $3.1 million (-40%), $26.3m 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!

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