After Will Smith notched the biggest-grossing film of his career with last summer’s $1 billion hit Aladdin, can he keep the box office heat wave going with Martin Lawrence in reviving their Bad Boys franchise? The third film, Bad Boys for Life, finally arrives over MLK weekend 13 years after the second movie, with a projected take between $42 million-$45 million over four days.
That range comes with a lot of asterisks. One major tracking firm believes the Sony pic could open to $48M, and note the pic does have the best reviews of the series with 77% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes — even better than Ride Along (18% Rotten) and Ride Along 2 (14%), two MLK releases to which many keep comparing Bad Boys for Life‘s business prospects. Those two titles opened to $48.6M (second best for the four-day January holiday) and $41M, respectively.
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Sony, which usually downplays its projections, is spotting $38M for the $90M production. That’s not shabby, but what has folks rubbing their chins is the studio’s uneven track record for relaunching franchises of late (i.e., Charlie’s Angels, The Grudge, Men in Black International, Jumanji obviously being the exception), plus whether Smith and Lawrence can still pull folks into theaters. The first Bad Boys in 1995, which catapulted both their big-screen careers, was an ancestor to the whole guns-and-cars rage of Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise, but there’s been seven F&F movies and a spinoff in the time span between Bad Boys II and Bad Boys for Life.
The cost of a third Bad Boys is what always kept this production at bay, especially if the series original director Michael Bay was to be involved. The 1995 movie repped his feature directorial debut and was made for $19M before P&A; it grossed $65.8M domestic and $75.6M worldwide. The 2002 sequel, at the peak of Smith’s and Lawrence’s fame, was made for nearly 6 times the price at $130M and made $138.6M domestic, $273.3M worldwide.
While Peter Craig was hired to pen a draft of the threequel in 2009, Safe House scribe David Guggenheim began this latest iteration in 2014, with Joe Carnahan in talks to direct by August 2015 (as exclusively reported by us). The pic’s release date jumped around several times as the pic stewed in development: first February 17, 2017, then June 2, 2017, and was unset for a bit due to Smith’s production schedule on other movies. Carnahan eventually backed away as director due to scheduling conflicts, with Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah stepping in to helm off a draft from Chris Bremner.
Bad Boys for Life will start previews tomorrow night at 4 PM at 3,150 locations before expanding to around 3,740 on Friday complete with the Imax and premium large-format suite. The threequel is trending strong with younger males and through the roof with African Americans. The pic is R-rated.
Also opening this frame is the very expensive Robert Downey-Universal family release Dolittle which is poised to do around $27M over four days. Should the pic touch $30M, that’s pretty impressive for a family release in January (the PG-rated Paul Blart: Mall Cop opened to $39.2M over MLK 2009). But the movie, which Uni has no financial partners on, is poised to be undone by its $175M production cost due to reshoots. Dolittle reps Traffic Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan’s first foray into the VFX comedy genre space as a director. Forty-one offshore territories including Australia, Netherlands, Indonesia and Colombia will do the heavy lifting, with China on the way in March. The pic, which is set to play in 4,000 locations stateside, debuted to No. 1 in South Korea with $6.8M last weekend, and has already clocked well north of $9M.
Dolittle is tracking with females and younger demos. Critics have suffocated the movie at 13% Rotten. The only bright spot there is that family films have the potential to best their RT scores at the box office. Showtimes start at 5 PM.
The Oscar halo effect will be in play for a number of Best Picture nominees. Sony is rereleasing Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (10 noms) in 700 locations including 70MM at the Hollywood Arclight. 20th Century Fox’s Ford v Ferrari (four noms) will go from 567 locations to 1,000 via Disney. Warner Bros is planning to boost Joker (11 noms) from 85 hubs to 855 this Friday. Neon’s Parasite (six noms) is going from 345 sites to 800 with an eye on on $32M-$35M by Oscar night, February 9.
Universal/Amblin/New Republic’s 1917, armed with 10 noms, is expected to make around $27M over four days in Weekend 2 after ruling No. 1 last weekend, possibly scaring Dolittle away from the No. 2 spot. The Sam Mendes-directed WWI movie is poised to hit $120M-$125M by Oscar night.
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