The Hitman’s Bodyguard
We’re officially into the fall movie season and what’s usually the slower month of September, but not this year… nope! There’s a good chance that a movie released this weekend will set a new Sept. opening record, currently held by Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania 2 with $48.5 million.
Based on Stephen King’s novel, the New Line/WB horror remake It burst onto the scene with a trailer that was watched online 256 million times globally in the first 36 hours, setting a brand-new record for such a thing and making it clear that it was a far more anticipated release than the last Stephen King movie, The Dark Tower. Oddly, Netflix will also be releasing a movie based on King’s Gerald’s Game later this month, directed by Mike (Oculus) Flanagan.
Horror continues to be a big seller at the box office with Annabelle: Creation being close to making $100 million domestic, and that didn’t have nearly as much advance attention or buzz as It does. Reviews for It have been mostly positive so far, which is just going to help convince those who aren’t sure about another Stephen King remake, but think It might be something special.
It’s kind of interesting that a director like Andy Muschietti, who previously helmed the hit Mama, produced by Guillermo del Toro, could put together a movie without a big name star, and it would still have this sort of demand.
Jaeden Lieberher probably is the best known of the young cast, having been in Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special and Colin Trevorrow’s Book of Henry – not that many people saw either of those. Actor Finn Wolfhard is from Netflix’s Stranger Things, which seems to be equally inspired by King and Spielberg. The real breakout star is probably Sophia Lillis, who plays the only significant female role of Beverly, but there’s a lot of young talent. Pennywise the Clown is played by Bill Skarsgard, brother to Alex and son to Stellan, and he gives a fairly chilling and memorable performance in the scary role. It’s a hard act to follow after Tim Curry.
Speaking of Curry, you would think that anyone who saw the original It mini-series from 27 years ago would be cynical about a remake so many years later, but this It is definitely catering to the under-30 horror fans who might not have had a chance to see the original.
Fandango is reporting that It is the top seller for a horror movie, doing even better than Paranormal Activity 3, but that was also six years ago when advance tickets weren’t as common as they are now. The movie ticket seller also says that it’s sold more than the previous September record-holder, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 2, which makes sense it’s presumed It will surpass that $48 million record quite significantly. MovieTickets.com is reporting similar sales, and these things can’t be ignored, although much of those sales could be for Thursday and Friday.
Either way, the movie is likely to beat Ridley Scott’s Hannibal and Paranormal Activity 3, the highest opening movie in that series, to set a new record for a horror opening. Expect It to end up somewhere between $60 and 70 million for the weekend – some are even saying higher — although it’s going to be hard to tell exactly where until we’ve seen Thursday and Friday’s estimates. I think it’ll be somewhere in between those two numbers with a solid $65 million opening.
|Opening Weekend||Current Gross||Total Facebook Likes||Twitter Activity (Past Week)|
|The Hitman’s Bodyguard||$21.4m||$59.7m||141,045||15,909|
Open Road Films
Not offering much competition in the way of counter-programming is the romantic comedy Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, who back in 2002 set a new Sept. opening record of $35.6 million with her movie Sweet Home Alabama. That was fifteen years ago, times have changed and she hasn’t exactly been killing it at the box office.
Witherspoon’s last movie to break $50 million was This Means War five years ago, but she’s mostly been making money providing her voice to the animated space with hits like last year’s Sing and DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens. For the most part, she’s still considered an A-list star even if she doesn’t bring women to theaters like she used to.
Home Again is being released by Open Road, who haven’t had much success in the rom-com realm with last year’s Mother’s Day grossing just $32.5 million. That was actually their highest-grossing movie of 2016. They haven’t had much better success this year either with the recent animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature being their highest grosser with $27 million.
There’s a small chance older women might pick Home Again over It, but awareness for the film isn’t particularly high, so it’s more likely going to end up below $10 million, probably in the $8 to 9 million range
The Hitman’s Bodyguard should drop quite a bit to settle into third place, but it won’t drop as much as New Line’s other horror flick Annabelle: Creation, which will lose theaters as well as audiences to direct competition from It. That should allow the Weinstein Company’s Wind River to move into fourth place with about $3.5 million.
Opening moderately in 400 theaters is the drama 9/11 from Atlas Distribution. It’s a movie set around the terrorist activities of that date, specifically about a group of five people trapped in an elevator in the North Tower. Four of them are played by Charlie Sheen, Gina Gershon, Wood Harris and Luis Guzman with Whoopi Goldberg as the woman communicating with them from the outside. Really, it’s kind of a tasteless idea for a movie.
That day in history has already been well-documented in a much more tasteful ways with Paul Greengrass’ United 93 and Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, plus tons of documentaries, so it’s unclear who this movie was being made for. It is the latest movie from Martin Guigui—another Argentine filmmaker like Andy Muschietti, oddly enough—who is mostly known for similar schlock. I can’t imagine this one even pulling in a million this weekend.
|The Hitman’s Bodyguard||38||72||7||47|
There are a lot of other limited releases coming out this weekend, but nothing particularly high profile, and a lot of stuff that will mainly be seen On Demand.
Antonio Banderas stars in Simon (Con Air) West’s action-comedy Gun Shy (Saban Films), as a has-been rocker whose supermodel wife (Olga Kuryenko) is kidnapped by Chilean rebels, but it’s not very good. It’s the latest Saban Films movie to get a limited release but focusing more on VOD.
Fans of Victorian era gothic horror should enjoy The Limehouse Golem (RLJ Entertainment), written by Jane Goldman, which stars Bill Nighy as a detective looking for a serial killer that ties back to the rollicking music halls of the times. It’s one of RLJ’s better pick-ups from last year’s Toronto fest.
Peter Dinklage stars in the high-concept sci-fi thriller Rememory, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, involving a machine that can store memories and what happens after its inventor is murdered. It’s a Lionsgate Premiere special (i.e. mostly for VOD) that features the last performance by the late Anton Yelchin.
Belgian auteurs Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have a new movie called The Unknown Girl (Sundance Selects) out this weekend, but it’s getting a fairly low-key release compared to their previous Two Days, One Night, maybe because it doesn’t star Marion Cotillard, but this one involves an intriguing concept of a woman looking into the death of a woman who rung her doorbell looking for help.
For JD Salinger fans, IFC Films is releasing Rebel in the Rye, directed by Empire creator and The Butler screenwriter Danny Strong, starring Nicholas Hoult as Salinger, along with Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson and Zoey Deutch. It’ll be in select cities after a low-key Sundance premiere.
I wrote about Jeff Maimberg and Chris Shellen’s’s doc Spettacolo this past weekend, but the doc about a community theatre group in Tuscany will have an exclusive New York release by Grasshopper Films at the Quad on Weds, followed by other cities in the weeks to follow.
Magnolia releases the doc School Life about a couple inspirational teachers at an Irish boarding school who use rock music to teach, so I’m assuming this is kind of like a real-life Sing Street.
GKIDS’ latest Japanese anime release is Napping Princess by Kenji Kamiyama, while other films out tomorrow include a Karen Allen drama called Year by the Sea, Gravitas Ventures’ faith-based drama Free in Deed, the Bollywood film Poster Boys, Scott Hicks’ adaptation of the Y.A. novel Fallen (finally getting a release two years after completion but already available via digital download), and Matthew J. Weiss’ doc about Welles Crowthers’ own 9/11 story called Man in the Red Bandana, narrated by Gwyneth Paltrow.
I might not be able to post a weekend update on Saturday this week, but check back on Monday for the full box office report.
(Sources: boxofficemojo.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com, metacritic.com, fandango.com, movietickets.com. Figures represent numbers at time of writing, and may have changed. Tracking Board does not report Rotten Tomatoes user ratings or IMDB ratings for movies that have not yet seen wide release.)
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor