This Box Office weekend is set to become the 5th in a row to improve upon 2018’s corresponding timeframe, doing so with the triple release of ‘Shazam!, Pet Sematary’, and ‘The Best of Enemies’. These 3 films look to please with a combined $95m, but will face pressure from a desperate ‘Dumbo’, who’s looking to fly past its mediocre opening last weekend and close in on the $100m domestic mark.

 

So, what’s opening this weekend?

We start with ‘Shazam!’, the DCEU’s latest release in a growing list of critical and commercial successes. ‘Justice League’ aside, both ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Aquaman’ provided a welcomed change to the before-derided ‘gritty’ series of superhero films, and with a combined $2bn worldwide between the 2 films, ‘Shazam!’ looks to be in good company pre-release.

Critically, the film’s mirroring ‘Wonder Woman’s stellar display, boasting 93% on the Tomatometer and 74 on Metacritic, compare to ‘Wonder Woman’s 93% and 76 from 2017. Whether or not this’ll make a difference in ‘Shazam!’s opening weekend is a different story; the fact that a C-list superhero gets a near-$100m budget perhaps indicates the near-guaranteed success of the genre nowadays.

It also showcases Warner Bros’ faith in director David F. Sandberg, better known for directing horrors in ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’. The latter earned $306.5m worldwide from just a $15m budget, and he’s now seemingly on track to deliver another Box Office success. The film itself, starring Asher Angel as teenager Billy Batson and Zachary Levi as adult superhero counterpart Shazam, sees Batson gain his powers and face off against Mark Strong’s Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.

In terms of its opening, we’re using ‘Ant-Man’s $57.2m from the summer of 2015 as a comparison; ‘Shazam’ may surprise us all and hit $55m by Sunday night – the 9th biggest April opening ever. Even if it makes ‘Dumbo’ numbers, this won’t be close to a disappointment for DC and Warner Bros. Why? Unlike Disney, the studio kept the film to a modest budget, (between $80m and $100m before marketing) making it not only the cheapest of the DCEU films, but one likely needing just $250m+ to break-even.

Lying in ‘Shazam!’s shadow is ‘Pet Sematary’, the latest Stephen King adaptation and prime counter-programming for the comedic superhero offering above. Perhaps still full from the release of ‘Us2 weeks ago, the horror crowd will still come out in droves for this remake of the 1989 classic. Not in the same way they did for the last King iteration in ‘It’, which broke multiple records including becoming the biggest horror opening ever ($123.4m), as well as the biggest horror movie of all time.

Regardless, ‘Pet Sematary’ will earn $27m between Friday and Sunday, a strong start considering the competition, and will become the 2nd biggest King opener, ahead of 2007’s ‘1408’. The film sees Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow as Louis & Rachel Creed, and their neighbour Jud Crandall, and follows the discovery of a haunted cemetery for animals.

Finally, this weekend sees the release in STX biographical drama ‘The Best of Enemies’, starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell. Before writing this one off in the midst of 2 of the larger releases, remember STX’s last release ‘The Upside’ and it’s extraordinary $107.5m domestic finish off of a $20.4m start.

Probably won’t apply here though, as ‘Best of Enemies’ only opens in around 2,000 cinemas, and although it stars ‘Three Billboards’ star Rockwell in a similar-ish role, its premise of racial-hatred-turned-friendship may likely ring hollower with its intended older crowd this weekend. Expect a $6m opening from this one come Sunday night.

 

What else is on?

Flying closely behind ‘Pet Sematary’ is Disney’s ‘Dumbo’, looking to earn around $26m this weekend for a $86m running total. Having already passed ‘Pete’s Dragon’ ($76.2m) and ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ ($77m) domestically, ‘Dumbo’ should land in the $150m region once its run is over – potentially a bad omen for things to come for the 3 other Disney live-action remakes dropping this year