Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Box Office Preview and Predictions: ‘Current War’ somehow unlikely to be bigger disaster than Box Office Mojo’s redesign

THE CURRENT WAR: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT won’t be keeping the lights on this weekend (Photo: Dean Rogers/101 Studios)

After eight weekends in a row with $20+ million new openers (seven of which were above $30 million!), the weekend box office is in for a cool-down weekend, with three relative non-events entering wide release. How wide those releases will be will be a little harder to figure out than it use to be since Box Office Mojo just unveiled its catastrophic facelift, but bear with me as I try to work my way through the labyrinth that is their new site design.

The widest new release this weekend is STX’s Countdown, opening in an estimated 2,600 theaters (as was listed on Box Office Mojo yesterday before noon). It is STX’s first major release since Hustlers brought the studio back to life, although the movie seems unlikely to replicate that movie’s success. The biggest pro for the film is that it is the first straight-horror flick to be released since IT: Chapter Two, so for any filmgoers looking for season-appropriate scares that runs for less than 160 minutes, Countdown is their one and only option. That alone should be enough to push Countdown to a $11 million opening weekend.

The other major release is Black and Blue, opening in an estimated 2,000 theaters. It is the first release from Screen Gems since their one-two punch of The Intruder and Brightburn in May (information I could have once gotten from Box Office Mojo, but had to get from Wikipedia this time since BOM now has studio details behind a paywall). Black & Blue seems closer to Intruder, the bigger hit of those two May releases, with an appeal to urban audiences and a simple-if-provocative premise. Expect an opening weekend around $9 million.

Finally, The Current War: Director’s Cut hopes to redeem the original film, a TIFF flop from 2017 that has been re-shot and re-edited in the two years since it was orphaned by the collapse of the Weinstein Company. With a release of 1,022 theaters (information I received courtesy of the Box Office Report Twitter), that redemption seems unlikely to happen in a theatrical release, despite the best efforts by its new distributor 101 Studios. Expect a $1.5 million weekend for the film.

The most exciting part of the weekend will probably be the battle for #1 between two holdovers. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil easily opened at #1 last weekend, but Joker was only $7.7 million behind it, and with a likely 50%+ drop for MaleficentJoker has an opening to reclaim the #1 slot, which would make it the first film since A Quiet Place to have non-consecutive weekends at #1. it will be a close race, but expect Joker to have the last laugh with an $18.5 million weekend to Maleficent‘s $17 million.

In limited release, there are three major expansions of varying sizes occurring. The Lighthouse will enter semi-wide release in 586 theaters, a rather fast expansion for a black-and-white, academy-ratio, not-quite-horror film, but A24’s marketing has been aggressive, so there should be an audience interested in checking out this odd-ball film, around $2 million‘s worth. Parasite moves into 130 theaters, an expansion similar to The Farewell‘s third weekend expansion. A similar weekend gross of $1.5 million would be very solid for the Korean thriller. Finally, Jojo Rabbit will expand into 55 theaters, a theater count similar to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (53). A similar weekend gross of around $1.1 million also sounds about right.

Finally, if I could conclude on an editorial note…I’ve been following box office as a hobby for 19 years now, first getting into it through Sunday night updates on my local news station, and then online through various websites before finding Box Office Mojo. It was both the site easiest to navigate, and the site with the deepest treasure troves of box office information, with box office information going back into the 1980s and several dozen movie genre pages, and over the years they added movie showdown pages and adjusted for inflation calculators that truly made it indispensable to anyone that wanted any sort of information – how was a movie compared to a director’s previous films, how has a distributor’s fortunes changed over the years, and what are the biggest foreign language films of all time. That last one was essential for me when breaking down Parasite‘s potential a couple weekends ago.

With the new redesign yesterday, pretty much all of that information is now behind a paywall or completely inaccessible. There are other great box office websites like boxoffice.com, boxofficereport.com, and the-numbers.com, but when it came to box office deep diving, Box Office Mojo was second to none, and they’ve moved a good majority of those pages so that only IMDb Pro users can access it, and turned the free sections of the website into an ugly, monotonous mess that now requires several more hoops to click through in order to get information as simple as a movie’s weekend gross history. It’s a mess of an update that is deeply disappointing to this longtime amateur box office follower, and when Edgar Wright is not a fan, you know you’ve screwed up.

1. Joker – $18.5 million (-37%)
2. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $17 million (-54%)
3. Zombieland: Double Tap – $12 million (-55%)
4. The Addams Family – $11.4 million (-30%)
5. Countdown – $11 million (NEW)
6. Black and Blue – $9 million (NEW)
7. Gemini Man – $4.1 million (-51%)
8. Abominable – $2.4 million (-32%)
9. Downton Abbey – $2.1 million (-33%)
10. The Lighthouse – $2 million (EXPANSION)
Parasite – $1.5 milion (EXPANSION)
The Current War – $1.5 million (NEW)
Jojo Rabbit – $1.1 million (EXPANSION)

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