Two vastly different movies will open at the domestic box office this weekend to vie for audience attention.
The first is Sony’s “Emoji Movie.” Despite the “Confused Face” or “Face With Rolling Eyes” that some deployed when the animated feature based on iPhone keyboard pictorials was announced, it now looks to have the upper hand this weekend, eyeballing up to $30 million from 4,069 theaters. The studio has it pegged closer to $20 million. In fairness, tracking shows a rather wide margin (albeit still not huge on the upper end).
That’s partially because it’s an original project, so it’s more difficult to tell how audiences will respond. The studio hopes for a long tail based on word of mouth. Visibility for the film has been exceptionally strong thanks to an aggressive marketing push that included T.J. Miller parasailing into Cannes to help launch the movie’s first trailer. Reviews have yet to be released, but films that target children are arguably the most critic-proof, considering kids are more likely to act on instinct, and (hopefully) not based on what someone says on Twitter. “The Emoji Movie” is the first major animated release since “Despicable Me 3” four weeks ago. It carries an estimated budget of $50 million.
Miller is the central character, a “Meh” emoji who has “no filter,” meaning his expression can change. The same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, which includes James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Christina Aguilera, and Sofia Vergara. Oh yeah, and Sir Patrick Stewart plays “Poop.”
Meanwhile, the other newbie, Focus Features and Sierra/Affinity’s “Atomic Blonde,” is aiming for the low $20 millions from 3,300 locations. The R-rated spy thriller has been compared to a female “Bond” or “John Wick.” After all, it shares DNA with the latter in stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, who will next helm the “Deadpool” sequel. “Atomic Blonde” was one of the hottest titles to come out of the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival, and currently has mostly positive reviews, or a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Charlize Theron plays a kicka— action star — the type of character that knocked out audiences in “Mad Max: Fury Road” — named Lorraine Broughton. The rest of the cast includes James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Sofia Boutella.
With no new superhero movie or big-budget sequel to dominate the weekend, “Dunkirk” remains in the mix. Christopher Nolan’s World War II movie beat out expectations during its opening weekend to earn over $50 million. With a strong hold, the early awards season contender could put up a fight against the newcomers. The first majorly successful comedy of the summer, “Girls Trip,” should also stick around toward the top of the box office charts.
Otherwise, in limited release, look out for Paramount Pictures and Participant Media’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” The sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth,” about former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign for global warming awareness, was recently re-edited to including President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.