Weekend Box Office Predictions: Kingsman and Ninjago Duke for #1
Aaaand here comes the franchise brawl!
After a less-than-stellar August capped off the worst box office summer in 11 years, great strides (*cough*IT*cough*) have made up for lost ground. This weekend sees the first Battle of the Franchises since February – when Warner Bros.’ The Lego Batman Movie faced off against Universal’s Fifty Shades Darker (and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 2, for good measure) – as Warner’s The Lego Ninjago Movie (these movies like stealing the spotlight) faces off against Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle. As well, Entertainment Studios opens their horror flick Friend Request. Predictions are below.
Friend Request (Entertainment Studios)
Simon Verhoeven’s Friend Request will attempt to get today’s teeny-boppers interested in teeny-bopper horror, a feat that has fallen on its face many a time (here’s looking at you, Scream 4). Friend Request’s plot is quite reminiscent of 2014’s Unfriended (young people get terrorized by a sinister internet presence), which doesn’t notch it any novelty points. Unfriended didn’t set the box office on fire, making $32.48 million stateside despite high buzz for the genre. Those numbers weren’t disastrous as Unfriended was made for less than $1 million, but a lesson was there, and it is the last notable “online horror” film I can think of. Social media chillers just aren’t enticing to audiences in a big way; they come off as too meta and perhaps too “obvious.”
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Friend Request’s reception hasn’t been friendly (sorry), awarding the film a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 4.2/10 from nearly 30 reviews) and a 5.4/10 on IMDb from nearly 15,000 ratings. Given there is a critical and financial darling in IT lurking about (plus the lack of star power, buzz, marketing, or any presence, really) it’s doubtful this’ll be a top request (I hate myself) over the weekend.
Kudos for the deliciously corny “EVIL IS TRENDING” tagline, though.
Prediction: $4 million, #5 rank
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Fox)
Matthew Vaughan returns to direct/co-write this follow-up to 2015’s dashing Kingsman: The Secret Service. Kingsman: The Golden Circle serves as the perfect antidote for everybody’s back to school/end of summer existential misery, which, along with its predecessor’s goodwill, virtually guarantees solid box office earnings (barring a fluke, of course). Our favourite sassy Brits (Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong) return with some American staples (Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum) joining the fold. Everything’s well and good, right?
Despairingly, not all is well in the land of blood and Vaughan. Reception for The Golden Circle has been decidedly mixed with a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 5.2/10 from over 100 reviews) and a 7.5/10 on IMDb from nearly 5,000 ratings. It’s worth noting that this is the kind of film that screams critic-proof, and its marketing has done a great job of fostering that – promotional material for The Golden Circle gives a sense of genuine fun and that is what will drive audiences to this. The Golden Circle may not reach the heights of The Secret Service ($128.26m), but it doesn’t necessarily have to. I expect this to do just fine.
Prediction: $40 million, #1 rank
The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros.)
Challenging Kingsman for the #1 crown is none other than (deep breath) Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan’s The Lego Ninjago Movie, the latest installment in the wait-these-aren’t-direct-to-video! Lego film series. Lego’s Ninjago line has its fans, plus the previous movies, 2014’s The Lego Movie and this February’s The Lego Batman Movie, made $257.76m and $175.75m, respectively. I don’t think any reasonable person expects Lego Ninjago to reach those heights, but it still shows that this is an exceptionally popular universe.
The big thing that will hold The Lego Ninjago Movie back, especially in the long-term, is its “meh” notices. As of this writing, Lego Ninjago sports a 48% score on Rotten Tomatoes (avg. critic score being 5.7/10 from over 50 reviews) and a 6.4/10 on IMDb from over 150 ratings (too small a sample size to make a broad assumption, mind you). Compare this to the Rotten Tomatoes scores for The Lego Movie (96%) and The Lego Batman Movie (91%). It’s not good. Lego Ninjago comes off as the estranged cousin of those two movies – related, of course, but doesn’t evoke similar feelings. That being said, The Lego Ninjago Movie will be the first animated flick since Weinstein’s Leap! ($19.07m) and I imagine families would want to take their youngins to this over the weekend. Ninjago won’t become the be-all-end-all of this franchise, but it’ll make a nice brick of change.
Prediction: $33 million, #2 rank
3. IT (Warner Bros./New Line) – $31.25 million (-48%), $267.15m cume
4. American Assassin (Lionsgate) – $7.42 million (-50%), $27.24m cume
6. Home Again (Open Road) – $3.37 million (-35%), $22.31m cume
7. Mother! (Paramount) – $3.01 million (-60%), $13.12m cume
8. The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $2.15 million (-40%), $73.9m cume
9. Wind River (Weinstein) – $1.93 million (-25%), $32.32m cume
10. Annabelle: Creation (Warner Bros./New Line) – $1.69 million (-30%), $102.05m cume