How big will Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” be?
Continuing to forge ahead after its record-breaking opening gross last weekend, the live-action remake should outgross three new releases by about 150 percent. It’s unfair to judge any of the new titles against juggernaut “Beauty,” which has already amassed $206 million (unprecedented for pre-May) in its first five days domestic, $428 million worldwide. This weekend “Beauty and the Beast” looks to fall somewhere in the $80-100 million range and should hit a staggering $300 million in its first ten days.
This makes it hard for any newcomers to make much impact.
After three straight weeks of major openings with sustained box office — “Beauty” was preceded by 20th Century Fox’s “Logan” and Warner Bros.’ “Kong: Skull Island” — this weekend’s offerings never had much chance to dominate the competition.
It’s a bit unfair to judge what appears to be another strong overall total against the same weekend a year ago, when the Top Ten reached $243 million over the Good Friday/Easter holiday with the opening of “Batman v Superman” ($166 million). This year should fall short, perhaps not even getting to $200 million. But anything above $171 million would make it the second biggest weekend of the year, behind last week’s massive $253 million.
“Power Rangers” brings back a franchise more connected to 1990s TV than film, although 20th Century Fox did release a movie version in 1995. That was a modest success. In adjusted numbers, it opened to $26 million ahead of a $76 million domestic full run. The studio turned a small profit, but not sufficient to justify an automatic franchise when there was less automatic greenlighting of “branded” entertainment.
Lionsgate has been on an uptick with stand-alone projects, mostly low-budget, from Oscar-winning “La La Land” and “Hacksaw Ridge” to “The Shack” and “John Wick: Chapter 2.” Most of their recent success has come from well-nurtured, young adult franchises — “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” and the less profitable “Divergent” — as well as Tyler Perry’s Madea films. It makes sense from the company’s weakened franchise position for them to take a shot at rebooting this dormant brand.
Their “Power Rangers” gamble includes a $100-million production budget on a retro kids movie with no guaranteed foreign appeal. (Back in the mid-90s, international response was ahead of domestic.) To help broaden the audience, Lionsgate went edgier with a PG-13 rating, hoping to grab teen to early 20s audiences with interest in mainstream action series like “Transformers.” The cast includes veterans Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks along with a group of up and comers playing late teens.
Timed for staggered spring vacations, but up against four current $100 million-plus hits with broad appeal, the actioner may take in $40 million but will likely settle for less. The bulk of the world opens this week as well (Japan is somewhat later and China is still not set) so we’ll have an early read on its trajectory.
Boasting far more star power than its competitors is “Life,” the latest outer space sci-fi adventure to follow blockbusters “Gravity” and “The Martian” and reasonable hits “Arrival” and “Passengers.” This “Alien”-derived space station saga of scientists battling life forms threatening their ship stars Ryan Reynolds, hot off “Deadpool,” Jake Gyllenhaal, who hasn’t carried a $100 million domestic grosser since the much-derided “The Prince of Persia,” and Rebecca Ferguson, who broke out in the last “Mission: Impossible” entry.
“Life” cost a thrifty $58 million, but the projected sub-$20 million opening suggests a film in need of strong worldwide appeal in order to succeed. At home, mediocre reviews following a series of more acclaimed similar genre entries (“Passengers” gained by crossing over to audiences interested in its core romance) won’t help the picture lure viewers against much stronger rivals.
The most interesting thing about this $25-million remake of 40-year-old TV series “CHIPS” is its R rating, rare for a big screen adaptation. Actor Dax Shepard makes his first solo directing effort after co-directing two wide indie releases including cop comedy “Hit and Run,” also costarring Michael Pena. The aim is to recreate the buddy comedy success of the “Ride Along” films. But this movie lacks marquee draws.
The R-rated upcoming “Baywatch” seems a more logical TV remake candidate, because at least it bears some comparison to the two “Jump Street” films, which opened to $36 million and $57 million and both earned more than a three times multiple with strong audience response. The best “CHIPS” can expect is a $10 million opening, which would not lead it to profit.
Christian faith-based genre producer River Rain returns with “Slamma Jamma,” a sports story with a religious angle. It opens in some 1,000 theaters, with particular focus on African-American audiences.
As the specialized world seeks its first breakout hit since awards season (“T2 Trainspotting” from Sony had a decent start last week), Fox Searchlight opens Sundance premiere “Wilson.” Craig Johnson (“Skeleton Twins”) directs an adaptation of a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes (“Ghost World”) starring Woody Harrelson as a neurotic man meeting his teen daughter for the first time. However, reviews out of Sundance and since have not been kind.
Grabbing the strongest advance reviews this week is “I Called Him Morgan” (Submarine), a documentary about the murder of a New York jazz musician by his wife. It opens at New York’s Elinor Bunin Munro Theater at Lincoln Center, dovetailing on their recent strong success with “I Am Not Your Negro.” Its current advance Metacritic score is a sky-high 92.