A triple shot of high profile wide releases open up the Christmas week release slate in the typical staggered fashion, and in what promises to be a highly lucrative holiday season in all comparisons except to last year.
Weekend Forecast for December 23-25, 2016 Part 1
By Reagen Sulewski
December 21, 2016
Opening up the slate of Wednesday releases is Sing, a family release that may prove to dominate that audience across the week even as it's one of the laziest concepts in animated film ever. Set in a similar world to Zootopia, it stars Matthew McConaughey as a koala talent scout who decides to put on a talent competition in order to save his theater - basically making it American Idol, but animated. Big stretch for the script, there.
In addition to McConaughey, the cast it boasts is fairly impressive, with Reese Witherspoon the showcase star as a housewife pig who dreams of being a singing star. As well, Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Jennifer Hudson, Nick Offerman and John C. Reilly pad out the cast, potentially enticing in the all-important adult audience despite being pretty threadbare overall. Reviews are solid if unspectacular and the animation... adequate, but its placement at the holidays and the fact that kids are suckers for singing animals (it's basically a segment from The Muppets stretched out to feature length) could propel this one to some success. I'd look for about $19 million before the weekend and around $42 million over the Christmas holiday weekend.
Falling victim to the high-expectations game is likely to be Passengers. Starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in a sci-fi film, it's basically like the Internet had a baby. Pratt stars as a crew member of a generation ship, one designed to take its passengers to a new planet while in cryo-sleep. Unfortunately, he's woken 90 years too early, and faced with the notion of dying alone, wakes another passenger (Lawrence) to help him from going insane with loneliness. This goes on until they discover that something is wrong with the ship and there's a reason this all went down.
This was one of the most highly anticipated releases on the schedule for 2016, though beyond the concept, it's apparently a fatally flawed mess of a film. The premise and A-list headliner cast may be able to save it for the Christmas period, but it seems to be a least case scenario, with reviews sending it down the river. It should start with $10 million pre-weekend and $24 million over its first three-day.
Lastly in new releases, we have Assassin's Creed, based on the video game. Michael Fassbender stars as a descendant of a line of assassins, sent back in time through a virtual reality projection somehow to overthrow the Knights Templar by jumping off roofs in 15th Century Spain - this summary brought to you by (video game company) Ubisoft's Director of MoarPlot.
In addition to Fassbender, we have Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael K. William and Charlotte Rampling - lending some credibility to this whole bit of nonsense even as reviews tear it to pieces as an overstuffed bit of CGI-fest. The history of video-game adaptations isn't filled with a lot of glory with the first Tomb Raider film still holding the title as the highest grossing 15 years later, and the Resident Evil franchise showing the most longevity. This doesn't look likely to break out of that pattern and holds some similarity to the Prince of Persia movie, albeit with much worse reviews. I'd expect just $6 million in the next two days and $12 million for its weekend.
Come back later this week for a full Christmas weekend forecast.