October began, uh, not as well as hoped (we still love you, Blade Runner 2049). This weekend doesn’t look overly rosy either, I’m afraid. Predictions are below.
The Foreigner (STX Entertainment)
Jackie Chan stars in this subversion of the typical action movie formula, which sees the ethnic dude against the white dudes rather than vice versa. It’s a fairly clever concept and Chan is arguably the person most qualified to handle such a vehicle. Martin Campbell, who directed the excellent Casino Royale, helms The Foreigner. Mr. Campbell also directed Green Lantern, but we don’t need to elaborate on that.
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The Foreigner’s premise hasn’t necessarily resonated with those who’ve seen it (particularly critics). The film carries an okay 57% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 5.6/10 from >35 reviews) and a, conversely, good 7.5/10 on IMDb (from <2,000 scores). The Foreigner targets the Liam Neeson contingent, specifically those who like watching aging action stars kick ass. Jackie Chan’s a recognizable guy, but he hasn’t had a live-action box office hit in North America since 2010 (The Karate Kid, which grossed $176.59m). Seven years without substantial exposure to U.S./Canadian audiences is a long time, not to disregard the fact Chan certainly has a fanbase. Pierce Brosnan is another recognizable face, though he hasn’t starred in a $100m+ grosser since 2008, when he starred in Mamma Mia! ($144.13m).
Movies like The Foreigner go either way, box office-wise. Their performance depends on how much people crave an action film, and given the market’s saturation of action-centric fare the past month I’d wager the craving isn’t high. STX, a relatively new distributor, has sold The Foreigner decently, but obviously they don’t have the marketing presence of bigger-league distributors. The Foreigner’s seen an international release already, tally being $74.05 million ($66.83m of which is from China). The flick cost a reasonable $35m to produce, as well.
The Foreigner can very well be a sleeper hit, and it can very well not be. We’ll see.
Prediction: $13 million, #3 rank
Happy Death Day (Universal)
Christopher B. Landon’s Happy Death Day comes courtesy of Blumhouse, which has established itself as the “Pixar of horror” – this year’s been fruitful for them, thanks to M. Night Shyamalan’s Split ($138.14m) and Jordan Peele’s Get Out ($175.48m). There is no way Happy Death Day reaches those numbers, but its $4.8m production cost means it doesn’t have to. The film’s premise is Groundhog Day with a bloody twist, focusing on a woman who relives the day of her murder until she can identify her killer.
Reception for Happy Death Day has been decent – the film has a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic rating being 5.8/10 from >40 reviews) and a 6.3/10 on IMDb from >400 scores. Happy Death Day’s concept, along with its dark humour, has the potential to overcome the fact slashers are typically relegated to Netflix these days. The movie doesn’t star any particularly well-known names, but horror banks more on plot than star power anyway. Buzz is good for Happy Death Day, comparable to 2014’s Ouija ($19.88m debut), and horror has overperformed this year.
Don’t expect shockingly high numbers from Happy Death Day, but it ought to do just fine (barring outright audience rejection, an unlikely scenario).
Prediction: $19 million, #1 rank
Marshall (Open Road)
Chadwick Boseman stars as Thurgood Marshall in the aptly-titled Marshall. Mr. Marshall won the Brown v. Board of Education case, the result being the end of racial segregation in public schools in the United States.
There’s a lot of power in Thurgood Marshall’s story and critics say the movie mostly gets it right – Marshall has an 86% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 6.8/10 from <60 reviews). Surprisingly, Marshall holds a low 5.7/10 on IMDb, albeit from <150 scores so take it with a grain of salt. Still, one wonders whether this’ll be the kind of film that appeals to critics and not audiences.
Open Road handles the distribution for Marshall. Open Road, similar to STX, is a newer distributor that has yet to really find their place (regarding financials; Open Road had a Best Picture winner in 2016’s Spotlight). Marshall debuts in 831 venues, a strange number as it’s too wide to platform but not wide enough to break out. Hopefully people take to Marshall and the film sees healthy expansions. It’s a story worth telling and seeing.
Prediction: $4 million, #10 rank
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (Annapurna)
It’s the weekend for biopics, apparently. Luke Evans stars as William Marston, a psychologist who also happened to create Wonder Woman. The film has some things going for it, biggest of which being Warner Bros./DC’s Wonder Woman grossing $412.43m stateside this year. That’s a rather large audience Professor Marston & the Wonder Women can reach, but the question here is: do people want to see this story?
Critics love Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, awarding it a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 7.5/10 from <70 reviews). The small sample size (<300) that’s voted on IMDb thinks it’s okay, giving the film a 6.6/10 score. Annapurna’s last release, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, was similarly acclaimed but bombed with $16.79m. Marketing for Professor Marston paints the film as a conventional biopic, something you see only if the subject interests you. People love Wonder Woman, but I’m not sure how many people are keen on seeing the character’s origin story – buzz hasn’t been notable (the trailer above has a relatively low 949k views, for example). Professor Marston & the Wonder Women has a moderate release in 1,229 theatres and Annapurna surely hopes the movie carries itself through awards season.
Prediction: $3 million, #12 rank
2. Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.) – $16.4 million (-50%), $61.64m cume
4. IT (Warner Bros./New Line) – $6.5 million (-35%), $315.24m cume
5. The Mountain Between Us (Fox) – $5.8 million (-45%), $20.53m cume
6. American Made (Universal) – $5.5 million (-35%), $40.13m cume
7. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Fox) – $5.2 million (-40%), $89.43m cume
8. The LEGO Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros.) -$4.6 million (-35%), $51.8m cume
9. My Little Pony: The Movie (Lionsgate) – $4.4 million (-50%), $15.85m cume