‘Cold Pursuit’ Frozen Out, ‘What Men Want’ Gets The Laughs, And ‘Lego Movie 2’ Blocked By Saturation: Box Office Report
The mixed bag that is 2019’s Box Office continued its meandering journey this weekend, stalling with ‘The LEGO Movie 2’s disappointing $34.1m opening, but speeding ahead with the rest of the new releases.
We start with Warner Bros’ ‘LEGO 2’, whose opening paled in comparison to ‘The LEGO Movie’s $69.1m start half a decade ago. Added context only makes the figure worse; an increased budget from $65m to $100m only puts more pressure on the sequel to be a hit, and with its near franchise-low opening, WB have suddenly found themselves in Box Office quicksand.
Why then did the film, which earned glowing reviews including an A- on Cinemascore and 85% on the Tomatometer, open to half that of its predecessor? It’s a question with many answers, but the 1 that really holds weight revolves around the franchise’s over-saturation at the hands of the more niche titles in ‘LEGO Batman’ and ‘LEGO Ninjago’. Diminishing returns in both ($53m opening for ‘Batman’, $20.4m for ‘Ninjago’) calls WB’s decision to release both in 2017 into question – especially as ‘Ninjago’ wasn’t exactly well-received.
It also begs the question as to why the sequel wasn’t released earlier. As seen by ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’, waiting 5+ years for your animated sequel (that isn’t an ‘Incredibles 2’ or a ‘Toy Story 3’) doesn’t necessarily build on audience anticipation, but perhaps gives them the opportunity to forget. Alongside ‘LEGO 2’s international opening of just $18m from 63 countries (including $5.3m from the U.K.), it’s a poor start to the year for WB, who must fall back on the safety net of ‘Aquaman’s continued holdover success.
This left Paramount comedy ‘What Men Want’ closer to 1st place than originally expected. The Taraji P. Henson vehicle opened to a reasonable $18.2m off a $20m budget, giving the much-maligned studio a strong start to the year. Directed by Adam Shankman (‘Hairspray’) and also starring Tracy Morgan and Max Greenfield, the film is a gender-swapped remake of 2000’s ‘What Women Want’ starring Mel Gibson, and sees Henson’s Ali Davis gain the ability to hear men’s thoughts, for greater success in her male-dominated field.
It’s a super-power that producer Will Packer (‘Girls Trip’, ‘Ride Along’) seemingly has already in abundance. He knows what people wants, as seen by his previous successes in the market. He, alongside, Blumhouse’s Jason Blum, remain as one of Hollywood’s most consistent profit-turners behind the scenes. Packer will oversee ‘What Men Want’ finishing in the $55m region domestically, alongside last year’s similarly rated comedies ‘I Feel Pretty’ ($48.8m domestic total) and ‘Life of the Party’ ($53.1m), although its A- on Cinemascore may help push it past the $60m mark.
Liam Neeson’s action-thriller ‘Cold Pursuit’ won’t be able to reach these heights after its $11m opening this weekend, slightly down on our $13m forecast. Although not the worst start in the world, it does mark Neeson’s third successive opening drop after ‘Widows’ ($12.4m) and ‘The Commuter’ ($13.7m).
The film’s $60m budget also raises concerns; the film will likely need to gross around $120m+ to truly break-even, so its inflated budget only puts more pressure on its international gross (that currently stands at a whopping $0) to deliver. Last year’s ‘The Commuter’ earned $120m, including $83.6m overseas however, so there’s still hope yet for ‘Cold Pursuit’s to chase down a profit.
This weekend’s final release came from Orion Pictures, with horror ‘The Prodigy’, starring Taylor Schilling, earning $5.9m to (almost) match its $6m budget. It’s a solid opening that marks the studio’s biggest since being relaunched by MGM in 2014, and with the ‘Child’s Play’ reboot on its way, we could be seeing a renaissance from the production house that brought us ‘Robocop’, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, and ‘The Terminator’.