Just the four new releases this Box Office weekend then, mirroring the schedule of 2018s sophomore Friday to Sunday that saw ‘The Post’, ‘The Commuter’, ‘Paddington 2’ and ‘Proud Mary’ enter the top ten at the first time of asking.
2019 sees films of a similar mold enter the mix; with the wide expansion of an awards-hopeful (‘On the Basis of Sex’), the thriller starring a famed action star (‘Replicas’), and the $30m likely flop (‘The Upside’) complimenting the family-oriented andromorphic drama (‘A Dog’s Way Home’).
It’s the latter that will lead the pack, as Sony’s ‘A Dog’s Way Home’, helmed by ‘Air Bud’ director Charles Martin Smith, looks to establish a spot in 2nd place ahead of ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ with around $12m. It enters a month popular in the past with dog-friendly movies, as shown by 2000’s ‘My Dog Skip’ (which opened to $5.9m), 2002’s ‘Snow Dogs’ ($17.8m), 2009’s ‘Hotel for Dogs’ ($17m), and most recently, the controversial ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ ($18.2m) from 2017.
No controversy here however, just an $18m budget, a PG-rating unlikely to be affected strongly by any negative reception (which is practically non-existent with its 71% RT score). The film sees a dog travel for hundreds of miles to reunite after being separated from its owner, and stars Ashley Judd, Alexandra Shipp, and the voice of Bryce Dallas Howard.
Next is ‘The Upside’, the remake of 2011 French film ‘The Intouchables’, which currently stands as the second biggest movie of all time in the country behind ‘Welcome to the Sticks’ from 2008. There won’t be any such luck for ‘Upside’ though, a film unfortunately suffering the irony of a production and pre-release that’s anything but its title.
From the changing of director 4 times to being auctioned off by the now-disgraced then-heads of The Weinstein Company, its problems have now been compounded by lead Kevin Hart’s recent Oscar-hosting controversy surrounding old, discriminative tweets. Its 40% on Rotten Tomatoes helps little either, potentially resigning the comedy-drama to the same fate as bombs like ‘Collateral Beauty’, and ‘Downsizing’.
Like the two aforementioned, ‘The Upside’ boasts a strong lineup, including Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, and Julianna Margulies, and is directed by Neil Burger (‘Limitless’, ‘Divergent’), and follows the story of a recently-released convict hired to help a paralyzed billionaire. While, on paper, the film seems to hit the right notes, it’ll likely fail where it really matters: the audience. It’s expected to open to just $7m off its $30m+ budget, continuing a torrid time at the Box Office for studio STX Entertainment, who remain in desperate need of a win outside of last month’s ‘Second Act’.
The final two battling for a top ten spot are Keanu Reeves’ ‘Replicas’ and last year’s ‘On the Basis of Sex’, whose platform release finally goes wide this weekend in around 2,000 cinemas across the U.S. Strangely enough, it’s the sci-fi thriller ‘Replicas’ with less to lose here, as its meek $3.4m production cost spent by indie distributor Entertainment Studios is vastly outweighed by the $20m splashed on the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer.
Hopes for the increased budget to lead to a higher opening for ‘On the Basis’ are dashed with our $4m forecast, just below the $5.6m weekend we predict for ‘Replicas’, which sees Reeves as scientist William Foster, who attempts to bring his deceased family back from the dead using synthetic biology. Whether it can spark life into its opening, however, remains to be seen.
Finally, to the top of the table where ‘Aquaman’ will remain top for the 4th weekend running with $20m, a feat not seen since ‘Black Panther’s astonishing 5 straight weekends last year. Not only is the film quickly closing in on $300m domestically, but it should also pass $1bn worldwide by Friday, giving James Wan the honour of becoming the 8th director with 2 films (alongside ‘Furious 7’) to hit the mark, and only the 2nd (after James Cameron) to do so with films in different franchises. What a way to start the year.
Sony have pushed the boat out early, with ‘A Dog’s Way Home’ following last weekend’s ‘Escape Room’. What’s in store this year for the studio, and which film will end as the biggest? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.