In a blast from the past, Bridget Jones's Baby is going up against Blair Witch at the North American box office this weekend, where Oliver Stone's biographical drama Snowden also opens days after making its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
Blair Witch, a direct sequel to the 1999 found-footage classic horror film, scared off Snowden and Bridget Jones's Baby Thursday night with $765,000 from 2,300 theaters. According to projections, the Lionsgate movie, which expands into a total of 3,121 locations Friday, could approach $20 million in its debut in the latest win for the horror genre. The big question is whether Blair Witch can topple holdover Sully from the top spot.
Years in the making, Universal's Bridget Jones's Baby took in $364,000 in Thursday-evening previews from 2,208 theaters before upping its total theater count to 2,927 theaters on Friday. That wasn't enough to best Snowden, which pulled in $390,000 for Open Road Films.
Bridget Jones, reuniting Renee Zellweger with Colin Firth and introducing Patrick Dempsey to the series, looks to open in the mid- to high-teens. (Insiders hope it can match the $17.8 million debut of Universal's My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 earlier this year.)
The latest Bridget Jones opens 15 years after Bridget Jones's Diary, starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, became a must-see romantic comedy and cultural phenomenon. Sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason followed in 2004. The threequel was once again produced by the British-based Working Title Films, with StudioCanal and Miramax (distributor of the first film) partnering with Universal on the $35 million film.
Close attention will also be paid to the performance of Stone's Snowden, starring Gordon-Levitt as infamous NSA whistleblower Edwards Snowden. Shailene Woodley plays his girlfriend. The film, which is being distributed in the U.S. by Open Road Films, hopes to be an awards-season player and recently made a stop at the Toronto International Film Festival (as did Blair Witch).
Tracking suggests Snowden will open in the $10 million range. Box-office analysts say that would mark a decent start for the biographical drama.
Also opening nationwide this weekend is documentary Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, which chronicles the popular Australia-based Christian band.
New offerings at the specialty box office include Mr. Church, marking Eddie Murphy's first turn on the big screen since 2012.