Star Wars’ looks for hat-trick, while ‘The Grudge’ aims to shock the new decade with $20m opening

Christmas may have come and gone, but the leftovers are still very much there for the taking. ‘Star Wars’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Spies in Disguise’ and the rest are all looking to remain in and amongst the top 10, while sole entrant ‘The Grudge’ aims to emulate last year’s ‘Escape Room’ with a near-$20m opening, to start the new decade off on the strongest foot.

So, what’s opening this weekend?

We bring in the new year with the traditional January opener, a low-budget horror, which in this case refers to the Sony release ‘The Grudge’. The reboot of the 2004 U.S. film (itself a remake of the Japanese film from 2002) boasts a surprisingly strong lineup, from producer Sam Raimi, to a cast that includes Andrea Riseborough, John Cho, Jacki Weaver, Frankie Faison, and many more.

If 2019’s January opener ‘Escape Room’ taught us anything, it’s that a crowd-pleasing horror is the correct antidotal counter-programming to the bigger, more aggressive blockbusters. In this case, we swap out the DCEU’s record-breaking ‘Aquaman’ for the even bigger ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’, with ‘The Grudge’ aiming to at least emulate ‘Escape Room’s impressive $18m opening.

What ‘Escape Room’ had working in its favour was its originality, which aided its $57m domestic run, and $155.7m global total. ‘The Grudge’, being the 4th installment in the U.S. franchise alone, has the benefit of a pre-existing fanbase, but alternatively may have soured the general public towards further instalments.

The addition of writer-director Nicolas Pesce is thus a welcomed one. Sony hope the man behind the inventive horrors ‘Piercing’ and ‘The Eyes of My Mother’ will guide the series in a new direction, with the potential for future instalments. It’ll need to a strong opening against the ‘Frozen’s, ‘Rise of Skywalker’s, and ‘Knives Out’s from December, although its $10m budget allows for some leeway.

The real issue will be with its legs beyond the opening weekend; the reboot of a horror-trilogy screams a 2x multiplier – a far cry from ‘Escape Room’s 3.1x. No word yet on its critical reception, although the lack of press screening is historically a bad, bad sign. We expect a decent, yet unspectacular $15m opening, in-line with 2017’s January horror openers ‘Underworld’ ($13.7m), 2016’s ‘The Forest’ ($12.7m), and 2015’s ‘Women in Black 2’ ($15m).

What else is on?

It’s likely to be a 3-peat for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, whose forecasted $43m weekend will let it sit comfortably atop the charts again, ahead of nearest competitor ‘Jumanji 2’. ‘TROS’ will pass the $450m domestic mark and close in on $500m by Sunday night, just a short distance behind ‘The Last Jedi’s $503.7m gross at the same point in its run.

As mentioned, ‘Jumanji 2’ will lead the pack behind ‘TROS’, with its $22m 4th weekend leaving the film on a $230m+ domestic total. A far cry from its predecessor’s $404m end result 2 years back perhaps, but a fantastic run for the Sony film nonetheless.

Last weekend’s new entrants ‘Little Women’ and ‘Spies in Disguise’ should gross $11m and $9m respectively, for 5th and 6th placed finishes. A24’s ‘Uncut Gems’ is forecast to hit $6m in its 4th weekend, to become the indie studio’s 3rd biggest domestic release ever, with a total of over $30m.

RankLast Week’s RankFilmSTUDIOBudgetJUMPCUT’s predictionWeekend dropWeek no.
11Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerDisney$275m$42.7m-41.0%3
22Jumanji: The Next LevelSony$125m$22m-37.6%4
3New!The GrudgeSony$10m$15m1
43Frozen 2Disney$150m$11.6m-31.3%7
54Little WomenSony$40m$11m-34.3%2
65Spies in DisguiseFox-Disney$100m$8.8m-34.1%2
76Knives OutLionsgate$40m$6m-39.2%6
87Uncut GemsA24$5.6m-41.5%4

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