It hasn’t been the greatest year for sequels so far, characterized by underwhelming openings from ‘The LEGO Movie 2’ ($34.1m) and ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ ($9.5m) in particular. The necessary antidote to 2019s near-fatal bout of ‘sequel-itis’ therefore is a healthy dose of franchise consistency, swooping down in the form of DreamWorks’ ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’.
Director Dean DeBlois returns to end the 9-year trilogy with ‘Hidden World’, featuring the returning voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, and Cate Blanchett, and introducing F. Murray Abraham as villain Grimmel. It follows Hiccup (Baruchel)’s pursuit of the ‘Hidden World’, a dragon utopia for Toothless and the others. DreamWorks and Universal will hope to find a similar happy place once this opens on Friday.
And find it they will. The film’s forecasted to become 2019s biggest domestic opening, beating out the opening of another sequel underperformer ‘Glass’ ($40.3m) with $46m – although ‘Hidden World’s $129m budget is a tad bit bigger.
Regardless, this’ll put ‘Hidden World’ comfortably in the middle of ‘How to Train’s ($43.7m) and ‘How to Train 2’s ($49.5m) openings, drawing similarities to Sony’s ‘Hotel Transylvania’ series, whose mid-40s starts point to a ceiling for these non-Disney, non-Illumination animated franchise
This won’t worry those over at Universal, however. ‘Hidden World’ already sits on a whopping $175m from international markets, and its 95% on RT should help it leg out to the $200m-ish domestic level the first 2 reached. Both films saw most of their money made overseas, with the 2nd in particular earning 72% of its $621.5m internationally. ‘Hidden World’, it seems, is flying to a successful end of the franchise.
The other wide release of the weekend sees sports comedy-drama ‘Fighting With My Family’, directed by Steven Merchant and produced by Dwayne Johnson, open after its 4-cinema start 7 days ago. The strange decision to first drop the film, also starring Johnson, as a limited release garnered $139k in its opening weekend for an impressive $34.7k per-cinema average, and studio MGM will look to build on from this start as well as possible.
To do so, it’ll require the power of The Rock to draw in cinemagoers, as well as strong reviews, and little in the way of competition. Luckily, it has all 3 in varied quantities, so an opening in the region of $9.5m is in order, putting it alongside similar sports biopics like ‘Eddie The Eagle’ ($6.1m) and ‘Million Dollar Arm’ ($10.5m).
Based on the 2012 documentary ‘The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family’, the film follows wrestler Paige Bevis (played by ‘Outlaw King’s Florence Pugh) journey to winning the 2014 WWE Divas Championship. The film also stars Nick Frost, Lena Headley, Jack Lowden, and Vince Vaughan, and is a hit with critics, boasting an A on Cinemascore, and 93% on the Tomatometer.
This won’t be enough for 2nd place, however, as last weekend’s winner ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ continues its ‘Terminator: Genisys’-esque Box Office run with a $14.4m weekend. Currently just $4m behind ‘Genisys’, which finished on a meh $89.8m back in 2015, the pressure now firmly lies on China for ‘Alita’, where the film looks to open to near $60m this weekend. The battle is well and truly on.