Although weather effects on the box office are generally wildly overstated and mostly a convenient excuse for movie studios to fool credulous casual box office watchers, this weekend's snow storm in the eastern seaboard could prove at least a small problem. The good news – they ain't missing much.
Weekend Forecast for January 22-24, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
January 22, 2016
The likely leader of this week's new films is Dirty Grandpa, starring Zac Efron and the increasingly hard to look at latter-career of Robert De Niro. Efron plays the uptight, recently-engaged grandson of DeNiro, a wild-man former Army General who was recently widowed. Efron's character is convinced to drive his grandfather down to Florida, and De Niro takes down Efron's youth with his experience, dragging him into a series of hijinks involving women, boozing, and an eventual trip to Spring Break, all designed as a way to split him up from his fiancee, who grandpa views as an life-sucking harpy.
Spiritually, this reminds me more than a little of Anger Management, which teamed a hip young comedic actor with a legend of the screen, with one behaving badly and stretching the other to his breaking point. It's not a fair comparison to Efron, as he's no Adam Sandler in many, many ways, but the style of the film feels familiar. Mostly, it's an excuse to let De Niro act inappropriately and would make you wonder what happened to his dignity, if Little Fockers didn't exist. The presence of Aubrey Plaza as De Niro's love interest (which I kind of get, even if ugh) makes me think of The Do List, another raunchy sex comedy that fell quite flat.
The hope here would be that star power will lift this one, but Efron has proven quite vulnerable if he's in the wrong role – c.f. last year's mega-bomb We Are Your Friends. With it being held back from critics, we can be quite confident that this is as plainly unfunny as the ads present it, and we're looking at a pretty mediocre opening weekend of about $10 million.
The scramble to find the next youth lit adaptation gold rush continues with The 5th Wave, with this one being about aliens. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as one of the last survivors of an alien invasion of Earth, which has gone through various stages including giant tidal waves and a plague and is now in the person-to-person elimination stage, with stolen child soldiers being used against the remainder of humanity. But what's really important is whether Moretz can find a boy.
Ever since the humongous success of The Hunger Games, studios have hunted for the next version of it, and for good reason. These inevitably get released with tag lines like “the best film of its kind since The Hunger Games!” which is valid in that both properties were initially shipped on the carcasses of dead trees for consumption by teenagers. Of course, here we are in January, around the time when things like Seventh Son were released, and where not even the Divergent series or The Maze Runner were banished. Awful effects are compounded with nonsensical plotting, and Sony appears to have left this film to its fate with not much ad support. I'd expect a start of about $8 million.
A horror film in the “you're pranking us, right?” vein, The Boy stars Lauren Cohen in a film of the classic “creepy English manor” tradition. She plays a nanny hired to look after an elderly couple's young child. He has proven troublesome to look after, with a long list of rules. She soon discovers that the “child" is, in fact, an elaborate porcelain doll. Right now, you're going, “wait, wut?” and I don't blame you, as this is one of the stranger premises for a horror film in a while. Of course, one by one, Cohen breaks the carefully set out rules cause he's a doll and why would she bother, and then creepy doin's start a-happenin'.
The director is William Brent Bell, helmer of The Devil Inside, widely hailed as one of the worst horror films of the decade, and while this looks to have better production values, it's overall just silly looking. Some January horror can find an audience, but this looks abandoned with little ad support, and should open to $7 million.
This leaves first place as a battle between Ride Along 2 and The Revenant, with Leonardo DiCaprio's survival film as an odds-on favorite. One of the stranger candidates for box office success in a while, it rode awards recognition to $32 million last weekend. A bit of a challenge for audiences, it should nonetheless have a strong $23 million take this frame, putting it on a collision course with $200 million, pretty much the most surprising result of all of 2015's releases.
Ride Along, meanwhile, took in less than the original film with $35 million and should see a softer second weekend with the natural front-loading of a sequel. Give it $17 million here.
Following along behind, we have Star Wars, which is in the “acting like a normal film” portion of its lifespan.It should fall to about $15 million as it chases down $900 million domestic. Michael Bay's controversial Benghazi film failed to break out of regional strongholds, grabbing just $16 million, mostly, I suspect, on thoughts that Bay simply wasn't up to the task of treating this material effectively, as well as the natural divisiveness of the subject. It should fall steeply this weekend to about $7 million. Finally, Daddy's Home gets one more kick at the can with about $6 million as it chases after $150 million domestic.