Can “Tomb Raider” Stop “Black Panther” from Having a Rare Fifth Weekend at #1?

TombRaiderPantherBO2Warner Bros. / Marvel-Disney

Black Panther (Marvel/Disney)

$27.5m

-33%

Tomb Raider (Warner Bros.)

$25.2m

New

A Wrinkle in Time (Walt Disney) 

$19.3m

-42%

Love, Simon (20th Century Fox) 

$13.8m

New

Game Night (Warner Bros.)

$5.9m

-25%

I have to be honest that I would love to move on from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther being the only box office story anyone cares about. I mean, it’s a perfectly decent Marvel movie with lots of great talent on display, but it’s already close to grossing $600 million in North America alone, so shouldn’t that be enough? Does it really have to be #1 for a fifth weekend in a row, and be the first movie to do so in eight years from back when James Cameron’s Avatar just wouldn’t go away? Now that I’ve gotten that semi-rant out of my system, a few movies will try to put an end to Black Panther’s seemingly unstoppable reign.

TombRaiderBOWarner Bros.

First at bat is Warner Bros’ attempt to reboot Square Enix’s popular video game Tomb Raider with Alicia Vikander playing Lara Croft. Normally, this might be a big summer or holiday release, as it tries to revive the video game movie genre that should have been well and done after Vikander’s husband Michael Fassbender starred in 2016’s Assassin’s Creed.  That movie grossed just $54.6 million domestically but made $186 million overseas, keeping it from being a complete wash-out. Tomb Raider might similarly be aiming for bigger bucks overseas than domestically.

Angelina Jolie was already a huge Oscar-winning star when she played Croft in the 2001 movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which helped the Paramount release make $131 million after a solid $47.7 million opening. Just two years later, the sequel Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life bombed with just $65.6 million after opening with $21.8 million. If audiences weren’t interested in a sequel after just two years, how much hope can there be for a new movie rebooting the franchise with another Oscar winner?

Vikander is definitely better known after winning an Oscar for The Danish Girl, but not quite as well known as Jolie when she played Lara Croft. The summer after winning that Oscar, Vikander starred with Matt Damon in Jason Bourne, which grossed $162.4 million but her two movies after that – The Light Between Oceans with Fassbender and Tulip Fever—didn’t do particularly well, and the latter might end up being the last movie from the Weinstein Company.

Working in favor of this reboot is that the video game itself was rebooted in 2013 to revive interest in the character and games for a younger audience who might not have even seen the Jolie Tomb Raider movie. That doesn’t help with the stigma towards video game movies, because there haven’t been many (if any) good ones except maybe Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which isn’t even based on a real game. In fact, the first Tomb Raider is still the highest grossing video game movie domestically, although the Resident Evil franchise was holding its own for a while until the most recent movie.

At the time of this writing Warners’ Tomb Raider is at 53% on RottenTomatoes, which isn’t terrible, and it’s doubtful that it will put off anyone who really might want to see Lara Croft brought to life with a new actor.

At this point, I doubt Tomb Raider will even make $30 million this weekend, but how much will it need to dethrone Black Panther, maybe somewhere between $26 and 28 million? It’s going to be a much closer race this weekend even than last week, and I think moviegoing audiences will be looking for something new to entertain them finally. Even so, Tomb Raider will probably need at least a $3.5 million lead over Black Panther on Friday, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I was ready to go out on a limb that maybe the namebrand of Tomb Raider might help it pull off a victory, but that’s probably going to fall to next week’s Pacific Rim: Uprising instead.

Disney’s other release A Wrinkle in Time shouldn’t have too big a drop, as it’s one of the few family films with spring break starting up in some places on Monday, which should allow it to hold steady through the weekend. Figure on it taking third place with somewhere just below $20 million.

Opening Weekend Current Gross Total Facebook Likes Twitter Activity (Past Week) 
Black Panther $202m $575.8m  825,360  548,001
Tomb Raider N/A N/A  183,436  110,398
A Wrinkle in Time $33.1m $43m  124,798  122,567
Love, Simon N/A N/A  111,618  117,851
Game Night $17m $47.8m  64,720  N/A

LoveSimonBoxOffice
20th Century Fox

Offering a small modicum of counter-programming, but to whom? Who knows? Greg Berlanti, one of the masterminds behind the CW’s DC Comics-based shows, directs his second film Love Simon, based on Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens. Adapted by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, the film stars Nick Robinson from Jurassic World as Simon Spier, who has been keeping a secret about being gay from his family, friends and classmates. Hilarity ensues? (Probably not, although 20th Century Fox’s marketing is leaning heavily on the comedy.) 

While Robinson hasn’t really proven himself as a lead outside Jurassic World, Love, Simon does have Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, returning from Berlanti’s earlier rom-com Life As We Know It, which grossed $53.3 million domestically back in 2010.
When representation and diversity are discussed, they rarely touch upon teenagers who are coming to terms with their own sexuality, although those movies tend to be up for awards like last year’s Call Me By Your Name as well as last year’s Best Picture winner Moonlight. Berlanti’s film is one of the first mainstream studio films about a teenager dealing with being homosexual, and it’s a welcome enough change of pace in theaters that Love, Simon should do decently this weekend.  It’s being released a little over 20 years after Kevin Kline’s gay comedy In and Out, directed by Frank Oz, grossed $63.8 million after opening with $15 million.

Reviews have been solid so far, as well as responses on social media after Fox gave Love, Simon sneak previews in 927 theaters last Saturday. It grossed a respectable $800k in previews that might get rolled into the movie’s Friday numbers, although it’s already quite cutting edge that the film’s sneak previews are being reported in advance.

Fox is giving Love, Simon a relatively moderate release into just 2,401 theaters, so it probably will open in fourth place with somewhere around $13 or 14 million, although it has a strong chance at breaking out due to word-of-mouth and possibly doing closer to $15 million.

Game Night should stay in fifth place as last week’s The Strangers: Prey at Night takes a much bigger plunge, going by its “C” CinemaScore last weekend. Even so, sixth place might actually go to a movie that many people might not have even heard of…

ICanOnlyImagineLionsgate / Roadside Attractions

 Because Easter is just a few weeks away, a number of faith-based films will be given wide releases over the next couple weeks, first up being I Can Only Imagine, the new film from Andrew and Jon Erwin, the directors of Woodlawn. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions is releasing the PG film based on a chart-topping song by some group called “MercyMe” into 1,620 theaters.

I’ve made no bones about not really understanding the appeal of these faith-based films, and I almost never see any marketing for them, but the duo’s 2015 football drama Woodlawn made a decent $4 million in 1,553 theaters (released by PureFlix) on its way to just $14 million. I know absolutely nothing about this song on which the movie is based, except that it’s supposed to be very popular. Christian films in general have been rather hit or miss lately with films like The Song and I’m Not Ashamed bombing while others like Heaven is for Real, War Room and Miracles from Heaven doing huge business in the $60 million range.

The fans of this group MercyMe and the song might help I Can Only Imagine open in the $5 million range for the weekend, but I don’t see the movie making more than $15 million tops with two more Christian films opening in the weeks leading up to Easter. (If the movie does better than that, we can probably expect a “Stairway to Heaven” or “Freebird” movie to follow.)

Also opening moderately wide into around 800 theaters is Focus Features’ 7 Days at Entebbe, a new dramatic thriller about the infamous 1976 plane hijacking that’s directed by José Padilha (Robocop) and stars Daniel Brühl from Rush and Rosamund Pike from Gone Girl. Early reviews have been terrible, for reasons I personally don’t understand. It’s a strong historic thriller from Working Title Films that might have trouble finding much of an audience under 40, or maybe even 50, so expect it to end up with less than $2 million this weekend.

Related: Interview with Daniel Brühl (I also interviewed Padilha, which I hope to run fairly soon.)

     
Rotten Tomatoes IMDb Metacritic CinemaScore
Critics Users Stars  
Black Panther 97% 79% 7.8 88  A+
Tomb Raider 51% N/A N/A 47 N/A
A Wrinkle in Time 41% 35% 4.2 52 B
Love, Simon 87% N/A N/A 71  N/A
Game Night 82% 85% 7.4 66 B+

KeepTheChange2Kino Lorber

The strongest of the specialty releases this weekend (of the ones I’ve seen) is Rachel Israel’s Keep the Change, released by Kino Lorber in New York at the Quad Cinema (and in L.A. next Friday) following its premiere at Tribeca Film Festival last year where it won a jury prize as well as the Nora Ephron prize. It’s a non-traditional rom-com starring first-time actors Brandon Polansky and Samantha Elisofon, who play David and Sarah, two adults on the autism spectrum who meet and connect during their class. (Look for my interview with Ms. Israel either later today or tomorrow.)

Another Tribeca premiere that I wasn’t nearly as crazy about was Flower, the new film from Max Winkler (Ceremony), which stars the generally-awesome Zoey Deutch as Erica, a 17-year-old who begins a relationship with Luke (Joey Morgan), the troubled son of her mother’s new boyfriend, as the two plan to reveal the dark secret held by of one of her teachers, played by Adam Scott. Also starring Kathryn Hahn and Tim Heidecker, the film is co-written by recent Indie Spirit winner Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West). The Orchard opens it in select cities this weekend.

Saul (The Duchess) Dibb’s WWI drama Journey’s End, based on R.C. Sherriff’s Tony-winning play and novel, will be released by Good Deed Entertainment in New York and L.A. this weekend. It stars Sam Claflin as Captain Stanhope, whose men, played by Paul Bettany, Tom Sturridge and Stephen Graham, await the inevitable German incursion with Asa Butterfield playing a young officer excited to be joining them on the warfront and Toby Jones playing their cook.

IFC Films releases Furlough, the new film from Sherrybaby director Laurie Collyer, into select cities and On Demand Friday. It stars Tessa Thompson as a corrections officer assigned to escort an inmate played by Melissa Leo to visit her sick mother. The film also stars Whoopi Goldberg, Anna Paquin, Edgar Ramirez and La La Anthony.

Michael Caine stars in Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse’s Dear Dictator, playing the deposed dictator of an island nation who becomes the pen pal for Odeya Rush’s rebellious teen and helps her overthrow her school’s “mean girls” faction. The film also stars Katie Holmes, Seth Green and Jason Biggs, and it opens in select cities and on VOD Friday.

Evan Rachel Wood stars in the drama Allure from writer/directors Carlos and Jason Sanchez, which Samuel Goldwyn releases in NY, LA and On Demand this Friday. Wood plays a house cleaner who bonds with a rebellious teen.

Other films released this weekend include Eric England’s thriller Josie, starring Sophie Turner, Dylan McDermott and Jack Kilmer, which Screen Media Films releases in select cities and On Demand, as well as the docs Maineland from Abramorama and Demon House from paranormal investigator and Travel Channel host Zak Begans.

Netflix continues to dominate the streaming options out there with two new movies premiering Friday. (Update: Apparently The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter was pushed back to July with its SXSW premiere, and my intel was out of date.) First, it’s streaming a new take on the 1974 family classic Benji, which I’m sure will be more suitable for kids than Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (out next week), although it’s produced by Blumhouse, so who knows?  Also streaming is Chapman and Maclain Way’s doc Wild Wild Country, exec. produced by the Duplass Brothers, who just signed a deal with Netflix. It deals with a religious guru who shows up with his cult followers in a conservative Oregon town.

That’s it for this weekend but check back on Saturday morning for an update on how the above movies are doing.

That’s it for now. Check back on Saturday morning for an update on how the movies above are faring and then I’ll have the full weekend box office report on Monday.

(Sources: boxofficemojo.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com, metacritic.com. Figures represent numbers at time of writing, and may have changed. Tracking Board does not report Rotten Tomatoes user ratings for movies that have not yet seen wide release.)

  | East Coast Editor
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Still quiet here.sas

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