Paramount / Universal
A Quiet Place (Paramount)
Ready Player One (Warner Bros.)
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony (Lionsgate)
Black Panther (Marvel-Disney)
It’s April and the national nightmare that was the March box office is finally over, or at least let’s hope so. Spielberg’s Ready Player One will still be in play after its strong opening over Easter weekend, but two movies will try to knock it off its top spot, and the one that’s likely to win the weekend is John Krasinski’s sci-fi thriller A Quiet Place.
Starring Krasinski with wife Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where aliens have wiped out most of humanity. The only way to survive is to remain very VERY quiet, because these blind aliens find their unwitting prey using sound. It’s a tense and scary thriller written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Krasinski that killed in its opening night slot at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
Obviously, Blunt is a much bigger box office draw than Krasinski, whose previous two movies as a director – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and The Hollars – barely made a mark outside of festivals. Blunt, on the other hand, has starred in a number of decent-sized hits including Tate Taylor’s The Girl on the Train, Dennis Villeneuve’s Sicario, the musical Into the Woods, Rian Johnson’s Looper and another alien invasion thriller Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise. Those range from $46.9 million gross for Sicario to over $128 million for Into the Woods. (Oh, yeah, there’s also the sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War in there, but that ended up on the low-end of those amounts.) If that isn’t enough to prove Blunt’s draw as an actor, she’s also starring in Disney’s anticipated sequel Mary Poppins Returns, which should be a very big holiday hit this Christmas.
That’s not to discount the former star of The Office, who appeared in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours, which grossed $52.8 million, but otherwise, Krasinski’s only other movie that did any business was the rom-com It’s Complicated where he was by no means the main star. Krasinski has had better luck with voice roles, having provided a voice for Monsters Inc. and its sequel. Blunt only has My Little Pony and Sherlock Gnomes and its predecessor.
But this is a horror movie, and as we know, they rarely rely on name-brand actors, although having two talented actors leading this one certainly doesn’t hurt. As we’ve seen, a quality horror film can do huge business as typified by last year’s It, Jordan Peele’s Get Out and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split. There’s also films like Insidious Chapter 2, The Conjuring and its sequel from James Wan, all of which all opened with more than $40 million, as did Split. Get Out opened with $33 million but then did huge post-opening business in theaters based on word-of-mouth.
I highly doubt A Quiet Place can open as big as It, because that was just a juggernaut, and maybe even a $40 million opening would be pushing it, but based on the early buzz and the amazing reviews, $30 million seems like the low-end, and I might even see it doing closer to $35 million, as horror continues to be a decent box office draw. I could see this one grossing $120 million or more if the buzz continues to drive its business over the next few weeks.
|Opening Weekend||Current Gross||Total Facebook Likes|
|A Quiet Place||N/A||N/A||206,741|
|Ready Player One||$41.8m||$64.3m||249,974|
|Tyler Perry’s Acrimony||$17.2m||$20.8m||205,442|
Another big buzz movie and one of my favorites for the weekend is Universal’s R-rated comedy Blockers, the directorial debut by Pitch Perfect writer Kay Cannon. It stars Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and WWE superstar John Cena as the parents of teen girls who want to lose their virginity on prom night, and I’m not sure who will relate more… teen girls or their parents. Or maybe both?
This is the latest production from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who have had many huge hits from Superbad to Pineapple Express and more recently Neighbors. They’ve had a couple movies not do so well like The Interview and The Night Before, but generally, they’re pretty solid as producers, and they’ve helped assemble what’s already being dubbed a “female Superbad.” Maybe the movie isn’t quite as genius as their earlier film, but it is pretty good as it shines the spotlight on a trio of actors who have mainly been doing supporting roles.
Leslie Mann, of course, helped give Judd Apatow’s 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up some of their more memorable moments before she starred in the spin-off This is 40. Barinholtz broke out big in the Rogen-Goldberg production Neighbors and its sequel, but is still untested as a leading man/star. Cena is still better known for his wrestling, but he’s also the star of the first few The Marine movies and has gotten into the R-rated Universal world via appearances in Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck and Tina Fey/Amy Poehler’s Sisters. So in all three cases, they’re being given a chance to lead a movie, and we’ll have to see if Cena’s older teen male fans will be even remotely interested in this.
Reviews for Blockers are almost as good as for A Quiet Place, and the fact we have two solid movies opening this weekend should give us more hope for the month of April.
There’s a chance Blockers might surpass Spielberg’s Ready Player One over the weekend to take a solid second place, but I think it’s losing way too much of its potential audience to A Quiet Place, which might lave it just under $20 million. That shouldn’t matter much as word-of-mouth should drive the movie’s business to around $60 million or more before Avengers: Infinity War comes along. (It’s going to be a major coup for SXSW for the top 3 movies at the box office this weekend being ones that premiered at the annual Austin fest.)
After those three movies, it’s mostly about the returning movies beginning with Tyler Perry’s Acrimony in third place(with a 53% drop or more), Black Panther and I Can Only Imagine, with the latter potentially matching or surpassing the Marvel blockbuster in a very tight race between the two films.
The next wide release is the Entertainment Studios Ted Kennedy drama Chappaquiddick, starring Jason Clarke and directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil). I might seem a little strange that this movie is getting released in April vs. its original November release which would have been more in line with its prestige and awards potential.
Co-starring Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan and Kate Mara, the film covers the controversy surrounding Kennedy’s 1969 auto accident that left a campaign worker dead and lots of questions about Kennedy’s political future. The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last September where it was picked up by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures.
Although the fledgling studio hasn’t been making too many waves since releasing 47 Meters Down last summer, it’s not for lack of trying and they’ve been marketing this one in all the right places to find adult moviegoers. Even so, it’s only opening in around 1,500 theaters, and I think it’s going to be struggling to make $3 million or slightly more for an opening in the low-end of the top 10.
Honestly, if I didn’t write about movies and try to pay attention to movies coming out each weekend, I probably wouldn’t know about LD Entertainment’s volleyball drama The Miracle Season, starring Helen Hunt. (I did receive an Email saying that yesterday was National Volleyball Day, something I also would never known or care about otherwise.)
There’s a good chance this will end up outside the top 10, and depending on its expansion on Friday, Wes Anderson’s animated Isle of Dogs might even beat it into the top 10, but who knows? Maybe there’s an audience for this movie among younger girls of which I’m unaware.
Warner Bros and IMAX are teaming for the IMAX-only nature doc Pandas, just in time for… um… three weeks before Earth Day. No, wait, that’s the date Disneynature usually nabs for their own nature docs, although they’re bowing out this year. Pandas will open on 32 IMAX screens on Friday, not enough to steal business from the bigger studio features playing in IMAX, especially with the little promotion the movie’s getting. The last IMAX exclusive, Marvel’s The Inhumans, didn’t fare particularly well, and the last IMAX nature film was 2016’s A Beautiful Planet, which grossed $13 million total.
|A Quiet Place||99%||N/A||N/A||81||N/A|
|Ready Player One||75%||80%||8||64||A-|
|Tyler Perry’s Acrimony||24%||54%||4.8||31||A-|
There are so many good and great films in limited release this weekend that I hope they don’t get lost in the shuffle of the rarity of having three decent films in wide release.
First up is Lean on Pete, the new film from Andrew Haigh (45 Years, Weekend), which is being released by A24. Based on the book by Willy Vlautin, it stars Charlie Plummer (who has absolutely ZERO relation to Christopher!) as Charley, a teenager living in a trailer with his alcoholic Dad, who takes a job with a local horse owner (Steve Buscemi) and bonds with his race horse named Lean on Pete. The movie also stars Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn, and it will open in select cities this weekend.
Next up are a couple cool genre flicks that I saw at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal, beginning with Ryan Prows’ Lowlife, released by IFC Midnight, which is a dark crime-comedy about a group of disparate people linked through criminal dealings, including a masked Mexican wrestler, an ex-con with an unfortunate face tattoo and a recovering junkie motel owner looking for a kidney. This is a fantastic film in the vein of early Tarantino that shouldn’t be missed.
Spring and Resolution directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return with the mind-altering thriller The Endless, which is released by Well Go USA in New York on Friday and in L.A. on April 13. The two filmmakers star as brothers who escaped from a cult years earlier and tentatively return to uncover more mysteries surrounding it. Although not a direct sequel, the movie has connections to the filmmakers’ earlier film Resolution, which you can learn more about in my interview with them running soon.
Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah) returns with the Australian Western Sweet Country, which will be released in New York and L.A. by Samuel Goldwyn Friday with plans to expand to more cities next week. The winner of a number of festival prizes including a Special Jury prize at Venice and the Platform prize at TIFF, the film is set in the Australian outback in 1929, as it shows the mistreatment of the Aboriginal people through a series of events that sends a middle-aged Aboriginal farmer named Sam on the run after he kills a white man in self-defense. (I also have an interview with Thornton I hope to run next week.)
(If you’re interested in any of the above three movies, check out this week’s Saturday “Under the Radar” column, where I’ll write more about all three.)
Amazon Studios is releasing the new movie from Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk about Kevin) on Friday. Based on the book by Jonathan Ames, You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Phoenix as a violent veteran who tracks down missing girls for money, but his latest job begins to unravel when his nightmares start to make him paranoid about what’s real and what’s not. The movie premiered at Cannes last year, where it won awards for its screenplay and Phoenix won an acting award. I saw it at Sundance, and not only wasn’t I impressed, but this movie really kind of pissed me off, so buyer beware on this one.
Also, Paladin and Great Point Media release Andrew Dosunmu’s Where is Kyra?, the Michelle Pfeiffer drama that premiered at Sundance way back in early 2017. In the film she plays Kyra Johnson, a middle-aged woman living with her elderly mother in Brooklyn, but when her mother dies, she turns to desperate measure to survive. Kiefer Sutherland plays a neighbor with whom she has an affair. I also wasn’t really a fan of this one either.
Opening at the Metrograph in New York City (which anyone who follows me on social media knows is my favorite theater) is the documentary ACORN and the Firestorm from First Run Features. Produced and directed by Reuben Atlas and Sam Pollard (who directed last year’s excellent Two Trains Running) looks at the controversial community outreach organization ACORN and how it was almost taken down by conservative shenanigans.
This week’s Lionsgate Premiere mostly straight-to-VOD special is the Simon Kaijser-directed Spinning Man, starring Guy Pearce as a college professor whose student goes missing making his wife (Minnie Driver) question his innocence, while Pierce Brosnan plays the detective assigned to the case, who also suspects Pearce’s character.
Other films out this weekend include the Israeli thriller Shelter from Eran Riklis (The Lemon Tree, The Syrian Bride), which Menemsha Films will open in L.A. Friday; Rob W. King’s post-apocalyptic The Humanity Bureau, which stars Nicolas Cage in what seems like his 10th movie this year and probably shouldn’t be opening against A Quiet Place; Kenneth Carlson’s African doc The Heart of Nuba from Abramorama; and Shout! Studios and Funimation Films’ Chinese animated film Big Fish and Begonia from directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang.
And for those who want to Netflix and chill this weekend, there’s the drama 6 Balloons from filmmaker Marja-Lewis Ryan, which stars Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) and Dave Franco as a woman and her heroin-addicted brother who drive across L.A. looking for a detox center. Sounds like fun. Also, Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity will premiere on Friday, so that’s another option to laugh and donate. (Seth does realize he has a movie opening in theaters on Friday, too, right?)
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.)
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor