In between two major tentpole films, and in the middle of the holiday season, Hollywood decides to offer us just... one sequel to a film that you probably forgot existed. That's it. It is almost as if, in the parlance of our times, they have forgotten how to blockbuster.
Weekend Forecast for November 15-17, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
November 15, 2013
The Best Man Holiday is the 14-years-later sequel to The Best Man, the film that established Taye Diggs wasn't just an immaculately sculpted dude to drool over. It was also one of the films in the vanguard of the movement where studios realized that, hey, black people watch movies too! A gentle romantic comedy about a group of friends struggling with relationships and the marriage of a good friend, it was a modest hit, grossing about $35 million against a $9 million budget. Although that doesn't sound like much, it is (I assume) definitional for a specific group of people, and something to which the term “long-awaited for” could possibly apply to the sequel.
I don't think there was much strain involved in thinking up this sequel, as they just decided to reunite the main core of actors for more shenanigans. It's essentially American Reunion, but less sad and desperate. Indeed, some of the main players in this still have significant careers – Regina Hall, Terrence Howard and Harold Perrineau among them, although Sanaa Lathan and Nia Long have fallen into the “oh yeah, them” category. There's not a ton to say about this project other than that it falls into a nice formula and does not feel like an idea that's been run into the ground or is placed out of time. The challenge with these delayed sequels is finding your audience again, as well as attracting as many new viewers as you can. That latter thing is close to impossible, unless you somehow become a cult film on video. The upside to this project is that it appears they've created a genuinely likable film. Fourteen years later, we should see The Best Man Holiday live up to the idea of a film in this genre with this audience, opening to $14 million.
And that's precisely it for new films, as counter-programming reigns supreme – or to put it more accurately, counter-unprogramming. Thor: The Dark World performed as expected with an $85 million start, jumping up $20 million from the initial Thor film, and should at bare minimum – and this is everything going wrong from here – match the $180 million domestic it pulled in. In worldwide terms, it's already almost passed the mark of the 2011 version. Word-of-mouth is good, albeit not phenomenal, with most seeming to put into the category of “satisfying”. With the inherent front-loaded nature of the film, this should still mean a drop to around $40 million.
That leaves us with a motley crew of returning films, which will probably be led by the gentle geriatric comedy Last Vegas. Let's hear it for target markets! In its third weekend, it should earn about $8 million, on its way to around $60 million domestic. So, not an insane hit for De Niro, Douglas, Freeman and Kline, but respectable – unlike their Vegas adventures.
Free Birds should bring in about $7 million as the leading family film... for one more week. Even then, that's a hollow claim, as it's headed for about $60 million of its own, and on a much bigger budget. Following that is Ender's Game, which suffered a huge two-thirds drop from its opening weekend, and will probably finish with about $70 million domestic, a rather poor return on a $110 million budget. Those other Ender novels look unlikely to be developed into films now. Gravity should have its seventh week above $5 million, and although it's backed off a bit from what looked like an extraordinary pace, it's still one of the biggest stories of the year.
Gaining steam towards being a big story is 12 Years a Slave, which has about $20 million in the bank as it starts to emerge from limited release. Expanding by bits, this major Oscar contender about the dwindling days of slavery should earn about $5 million this weekend.