One year ago the giant success of American Sniper had many people rethinking the notion that January was a box office graveyard. Now in 2016 we’re being reminded that January can still be a rough month, even for the healthiest of titles. Overall box office grosses are expected to fall by more than 20% over the same frame last year, and all top ten titles – including The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens – are coming in well below their intital projections. Feel free to blame the snow hitting the Eastern seaboard today for this outcome, because that’s the line that most studios will likely take.
In fact, weather is cited for lower than expected box office results with some regularity. The most glaring examples came in December 2009, when an East Coast blizzard was blamed for keeping Avatar’s opening below $100 million, and in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy wiped out an entire weekend. Of course we all know that Avatar bounced back just fine. And, in the case of Sandy, that frame was probably destined to fail thanks to weak newcomers like Cloud Atlas. That should be the takeaway this weekend as well. Sure, having 300 theatres shuttered in the East hurts grosses, but not one of this weekend’s three new titles was expected to make much of an impact anyway.
The Revenant will be the big winner – expected to take first place with about $16 million after adding an estimated $4.55 million yesterday. Considering Fox added more than 150 locations to the film’s theatre count on Friday, that’s lower than the $20 million-plus that was expected from The Revenant’s third weekend. And that’s just the beginning of the depressed totals the box office will bring us this weekend.
Ride Along 2, which is following a somewhat disappointing debut over MLK Day weekend with what is looking like an incredibly disappointing sophomore frame. The sequel to 2014’s action comedy earned an estimated $3.7 million on Friday and is expected to climb no higher than $12 million through Sunday. That would represent a decline of about 68%, or a percentage drop you might expect to see from a mid-level horror film rather than a star-driven sequel.
Speaking of mid-level horror, STX Entertainment (the studio behind last August’s hit The Gift) released the PG-13 thriller The Boy on Friday. At just 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Boy is actually the best-reviewed of this weekend’s new releases. The film, featuring Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead, earned an estimated $3.9 million from 2,641 on Friday and should bring in at least $9 million through Sunday.
Sony’s The 5th Wave is also headed for a $9 million first weekend, after earning an estimated $3.5 million from 2,908 locations on Friday. The sci-fi thriller starring Chloe Grace Moretz received a B- from CinemaScore audiences but stands at just 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.
First among Friday’s middling newcomers is Lionsgate’s Dirty Grandpa. The R-rated comedy placed second on Friday after taking in an estimated $4.2 million from 2,912 locations. That indicates a first weekend of at least $11 million and, given the fact that the film was not expected to surpass $10 million, I guess that makes Dirty Grandpa the only newbie set to triumph over the weather this weekend – albeit in an incredibly limited fashion. We’ll have full details on the weekend box office tomorrow.
Here’s Friday’s top six movies, based on studio estimates:
|4.||Ride Along 2||$3,700,000||$49.8|
|5.||Star Wars: The Force Awakens||$3,518,000||$868.5|
|6.||The Fifth Wave||$3,500,000||$3.5|