‘Downton Abbey’ aims for record $30m opening in tight weekend
After ‘Hustlers’ trounced ‘The Goldfinch’ on its way to an STX-record-breaking Box Office weekend 7 days ago, we’re in for a closer battle between the new entrants this time around. Friday sees Brad Pitt vehicle ‘Ad Astra’ take flight alongside TV-adaptation ‘Downton Abbey’ and Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, with all 3 aiming for a $20m+ opening. They’ll be joined by ‘Hustlers’ and ‘It: Chapter 2’ looking to earn similar amounts in their 2nd and 3rd weekends respectively, for a competitive finish come Sunday night.
So, what’s opening this weekend?
Of the 3 openers, ‘Downton Abbey’ emerges as the surprise favourite to take the crown this weekend. The film, based off of the wildly-successful British TV show that spanned 52 episodes over its 5 year run, enters a packed top-half of the Box Office table already carrying an under-served, older fanbase prepped to reconnect with the characters and storylines unseen for nearly half a decade.
And what characters and storylines there are: ‘Downton Abbey’ is one of the most critically acclaimed international series ever with 27 Primetime Emmy nominations, and the film’s 84% on Rotten Tomatoes certainly hints at a movie of similar quality.
One problem of note it faces is staying power. Once the die-hard fans come out in their droves to watch in Thursday previews, can the film really hold up like a normal PG drama by Sunday night?
One ray of light comes in the form of Fox’s 2017 hit ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, whose success in book and film translated well into film with a $28.7m opening and a $102.8m domestic total. ‘Downton’ has the capability to emulate the success, and with its forecasted $27m, it’ll already stand as Focus Features’ biggest ever opening, surpassing the $22.7m of 2015’s ‘Insidious Chapter 3’.
Flying in close behind is Fox’s sci-fi thriller ‘Ad Astra’, starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, and Donald Sutherland. Helmed by James Gray, the film follows the story of Roy McBride (Pitt), an astronaut who goes into space in search of his lost father (Jones) – finding some of the best critical reception of the weekend, like its 82% on the Tomatometer.
Its critical success draws similarities to 2018’s space biopic ‘First Man’, who, as well as boasting a similarly all-star cast in Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and co, couldn’t lift off past its weighty $60m budget, opening to just $16m on its way to a $45m domestic total.
‘Ad Astra’ takes things further with its bonkers $80m production cost. Things wouldn’t be a problem if it tracked to an opening closer to ‘Gravity’ ($56m), however it’s likely to only float past the start ‘First Man’ had, meaning ‘Ad Astra’, with its $20m opening, is to be D.O.A.
Finally, we have Lionsgate’s ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, the 5th and final installment in the 37-year-old franchise. Written by Sylvester Stallone and Matt Cirulnick and directed by Adrian Grunberg, Stallone returns as John Rambo, the matured Vietnam veteran who must save his kidnapped daughter from a Mexican cartel.
Rarely are all 3 new movies in the same weekend released to critical acclaim. ‘Last Blood’ suffers from absolutely scathing reviews, with shouts of heightened racism and xenophobia compounded by ‘First Blood’ author David Morrell stating his ‘embarrassment to be associated with it’.
Still, the market for the R-rated, family revenge flick’s remains strong, with recent releases like ‘The Foreigner’ ($13.1m opening), ‘Death Wish’ ($13m), and ‘Peppermint’ ($13.4m) all pointing towards a mid-teens start for ‘Last Blood’. That won’t quite cut it as the biggest opening of the franchise – ‘First Blood Part 2’ did $20.2m back in 1985 – but with $17m, the film will sit just behind 2008’s ‘Rambo’ ($18.2m) in 3rd to surely grease the wheels of an ever-present genre.
What else is on?
This weekend will be the 1st in over a year to have 5 films gross over $15m, with ‘Hustlers’ and ‘It Chapter 2’ continuing their strong performances into their 2nd and 3rd weekends respectively.
Sunday night should see ‘It Chapter 2’ hit the $180m domestic mark after a $19m weekend – moving ahead of ‘A Quiet Place’ as the 5th biggest horror in U.S. history. ‘Hustlers’, not to be over-shadowed, will earn an impressive $18m (less than a 50% drop), to break the $60m domestic barrier.
|Rank||Last Week’s Rank||Film||STUDIO||Budget||JUMPCUT’s prediction||Weekend drop||Week no.|
|1||New!||Downton Abbey||Focus Features||$13m||$27m||–||1|
|3||1||It Chapter 2||Warner Bros||$79m||$19m||-52.0%||3|
|5||New!||Rambo: Last Blood||Lionsgate||–||$17.5m||–||1|
|7||3||Angel Has Fallen||Lionsgate||$40m||$2.8m||-37.7%||5|
|8||5||The Lion King||Disney||$260m||$2.7m||-26.0%||10|
|9||6||Hobbs & Shaw||Universal||$200m||$2m||-28.4%||8|