It is bombs away at the Friday box office, where four out of five new films are badly struggling, according to early returns.
Instead, Universal holdover The Fate of the Furious easily remains in the driver's seat. The eighth outing in the action franchise is projected to gross $11 million Friday from 4,329 theaters for a $37.7 million weekend, a drop of 62 percent.
Among the new movies, Warner Bros.' female-centric thriller Unforgettable, starring Katherine Heigl, is projected to gross roughly $2 million on Friday from 2,417 theaters for a forgettable $5 million-$6 million debut. If it comes in on the lower end, it could mark the lowest start of Heigl's career in terms of a major studio title.
In a surprise twist, Disney's nature documentary Born in China could beat Unforgettable and place No. 4 behind Fate of the Furious, The Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast with a $6 million-plus debut from 1,508 locations, a pleasing start for a doc.
Helmed by veteran producer Denise Di Novi in her feature directorial debut, Unforgettable stars Heigl as a jilted woman whose jealousy of her ex-husband's new wife turns pathological. Rosario Dawson and Geoff Stults also star in film, which cost a modest $12 million to make.
While Unforgettable's financial exposure is limited, the same can't be said for director Terry George's Armenian genocide drama The Promise, starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. The $100 million movie is projected to earn $1.5 million-$2 million Friday from 2,251 theaters for a $4 million-$5 million launch. (One rival studio shows the movie coming in much higher at $10 million, but that's still a sobering start considering the movie's hefty budget.)
The Promise was fully financed by the late Kirk Kerkorian, who was of Armenian descent. It is the first major U.S. film to address the massacre of Armenians during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. Open Road is handling The Promise domestically.
The forecast is likewise grim for the two other new films opening this weekend, action-comedy Free Fire and sci-fi thriller Phoenix Forgotten
British helmer Ben Wheatley's Free Fire, a send-up of vintage action movies, is projected to open in the $800,000 range from 1,070 theaters for indie distributor A24. The pic stars Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor.
Phoenix Forgotten, which is likewise eyeing a debut under $1 million, tells the story of three teenagers who disappear after trying to solve the mystery behind the 1997 UFO phenomenon knows as the Phoenix Lights. Ridley Scott, Wes Ball, Courtney Solomon and Mark Canton produced the movie, with Cinelou distributing.