Weekend Box Office (March 23 - 25, 2018)
THIS WEEKEND Leading the crop of new entries is the action sequel Pacific Rim Uprising which has a well-defined action crowd it is targeting as it looks likely to unseat T'Challa from the box office throne. Universal is handling distribution this time on the PG-13 VFX-filled adventure and is hoping that the Guillermo del Toro brand name will help sell this new picture. The recent Oscar winner directed the first Pacific Rim, but not this new installment.
Like with Tomb Raider last weekend, China will probably deliver the world's biggest opening weekend with North America following with the second best. Some cast changes and franchise fatigue will lead to some of those who came out to power the first film to $37.3M in 2013 to skip this time. Reviews are mixed, but this one will be sold on the fun quotient. Opening in over 3,700 locations, Pacific Rim Uprising may debut to about $26M taking over the number one spot.
Paramount and MGM are aiming to connect with kids and families with the new animated comedy Sherlock Gnomes which follows seven years after the surprise hit Gnomeo and Juliet which did an impressive $100M domestically when Disney handled the release. The new PG-rated film has been given the key slot on the weekend before the Easter holiday. Studios often use this time each year to generate a solid 17-day start for kidpics since many schools take a week off before the holiday, and many others are closed for a week after. A moderate start is likely and legs should be good too. Opening in 3,660 locations, Sherlock Gnomes might bow to around $15M.
With Easter just a week away, Sony unveils the Biblical drama Paul, Apostle of Christ hoping for good results from the faith-based crowds. They came out in terrific numbers last weekend for I Can Only Imagine which will still be going strong in its second weekend and taking away part of the same audience. Also Paul does not seem to have the pre-release excitement or advance sales that Imagine had. Debuting in 1,400 locations, Paul, Apostle of Christ might collect about $7M this weekend.
Other new nationwide releases on this crowded frame include the Steven Soderbergh thriller Unsane which has been getting solid reviews for Bleecker Street. Also, Open Road will roll out the romance Midnight Sun looking for a young female audience. Both will release in about 2,000 playdates and the opening weekends may end up at about $5M and $4M, respectively.
It's been four years since Wes Anderson delivered a new film and his loyal fan base has been waiting. Normally his movies platform in New York and Los Angeles but Fox Searchlight is going a little broader with his new entry Isle of Dogs which sails out into 27 theaters in major markets. March is a time when arthouse audiences are ready to move past all the Oscar films and jump into something new and exciting. Reviews are very positive as usual for the filmmaker and this animated PG-13 entry could gross over $1M this weekend ahead of its expansion into all other markets over the coming weeks.
The mighty five-week reign of Black Panther atop the domestic box office will come to an end with the Marvel smash dropping to second, or even third this weekend. With Uprising opening and screens now starting to go away, the Disney release may slide 40% to about $16M which would still be good enough to lift the cume to an amazing $630M allowing Panther to surpass Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Avengers to take the number five spot on the all-time domestic blockbusters list.
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Watch the trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2.
LAST YEAR Holding number one for a second time with ease was the fairy tale epic Beauty and the Beast with $90.4M smashing $300M in the process. Power Rangers opened well in second with $40.3M on its way to $85.4M for Lionsgate. Kong: Skull Island slipped to third with $14.7M in its third round. Debuting quietly in fourth with $12.5M was the sci-fi pic Life which went on to do only $30.2M for Sony. Logan rounded out the top five with $10.3M.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: March 22, 2018 at 3:40PM ET
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