It's been a strange transition between summer and fall, with one of the weakest slates in recent memory giving way to a record breaking film acting like an iceberg in the desert. Now, perhaps finally, the studios get back to the business of regularly releasing profitable films through the rest of the season.
Weekend Forecast for September 22-24, 2017
Weekend Box Office Forecast for September 22-24, 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
September 22, 2017
The release of The LEGO Movie three years ago was a bit of a revelation in terms of movie making and its close cousin these days, marketing, as it successfully leveraged an existing mega brand into another form of entertainment, doubly important as it opened up the catalog of ideas it had already implemented in various other platforms. Oh, and it was a pretty damn good movie too (unfortunately kind of a side note). This gave birth in short order to The LEGO Batman movie, and now this weekend, it starts working through LEGO's own internal properties with the Ninjago Movie. With how versatile this could be as a storytelling medium, there could be countless avenues for reinvention, or at least until we stride to ride this sucker straight through the earth's mantle.
Based on a reasonably popular line of LEGO sets and its TV spinoff, Ninjago is a bit of a kitchen sink fantasy series, throwing together ninjas, dragons and various other bits of mysticism into an irreverent Power Rangers type plot where the biggest villains are the twin demons of high school and one of their dads.
A solid voice cast gives this a chance to elevate above the pre-teen and teen audience this is going for, with Dave Franco, Kumail Nanjiani, Jackie Chan, Michael Pena, Zach Woods and Justin Theroux, among others, lending their talents to the film. It does seem to be in large part coasting off the goodwill earned by the previous two LEGO film, which have piloted the sort of self-deprecating and referential humor this film needs to hit its mark. Reviews seem to peg it as “lively, but silly,” which might be enough. The Batman version of this at least had a much more widely appealing main character to give it wide appeal, and hence this won't approach the $53 million of that film's opening weekend. We are trading on a solid brand now though, so a start of about $38 million does seem possible.
Speaking of “lively and irreverent,” we have The Kingsman sequel, The Golden Circle to contend with. Following up the medium-sized hit from two years ago, the comic adaptation/Bond parody/Bond wannabe picks back up where it left off with Taron Egerton's smarmy but posh secret agent. This time, though, the Kingsman's secret HQ has been destroyed on the heels of a dastardly plot by a drug lord (Julianne Moore) that takes the world hostage. Teaming up with their American counterparts (notably Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and what seems to be a criminally underused Halle Berry), there's more speed-ramped action (courtesy of director Matthew Vaughn) and wanton destruction and mayhem.
The anarchic and somewhat sociopathic attitude of Mark Millar's work runs true through this film, among the things that made Wanted and Kick-Ass really hard to sit through. Kingsman is the more palatable version of these, thanks to a bit of a wink and a nod twist to its attitude compared to those other films/series. They do tend to wear out their welcomes quickly, as evidenced by the rather dismal failure of Kick-Ass 2. That this is a more straight ahead spy movie certainly insulates against that, and should keep it at about $34 million for the weekend.
Sliding in as a bit of an afterthought is Friend Request, yet another film to say, “Hey, social media is a thing right? Let's make a horror movie out of it!” A bit of an orphan that's been released almost two years ago overseas, it's somewhat inexplicably getting a wide release this weekend, but with a cast of anonymous young actors and little promotion, it should fall in around $4 million.
It's buried anyhow against the third weekend of It, which has become simply massive in the open fall marketplace, grossing over $230 million so far. It's a sure bet for that modern day version sequel (i.e. the second half of the book) as it takes in about $32 million this weekend on its way to about $325 million domestic.
American Assassin managed a solid $14 million last weekend on a fairly generic looking action/terrorism storyline but this likely makes a further adaptation of the Vince Flynn novel series a tough sell. Tom Clancy this ain't. Give it about $8 million this weekend.