The 2018 film slate gets down to business with four films new in wide release, a combination of brand new films and expansions. We're starting to see more of the Oscar contenders finding more venues, but the key expansion this weekend did not get the support it expected from the Golden Globes, and hits theaters a bit damaged.
Weekend Forecast for January 12-14, 2018
By Reagen Sulewski
January 12, 2018
Two years ago, Paddington defied its bizarre ads and seemingly twee nature to become an example of an utterly charming family film in the true sense of the word, and earned about $75 million (and a boatload in its native Britain). Based on the book series about a maramlade-loving Peruvian bear and his clumsy antics, it proved to have more up its sleeve that could possibly have been expected. Now we have the sequel, which has been gathering up “No, it's really actually good” ratings, and even a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Grant – what is even happening here – and suddenly this is a highly anticipated sequel.
In this case, Paddington's antics end up taking him to prison after a mishap involving a rare book and a theft attempt and oh does it really matter? It's a very gentle silliness and adventure that this film brings to theaters, which should enable it to surpass the $18 million opening of the original film with $23 million.
It's hard to imagine a more topical film than The Post right now – one that's largely about a powerful woman in journalism facing off against a corrupt president... *cough*. Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham, the first female editor of the Washington Post, who faced difficult decisions in the Watergate era and surrounding the fallout of The Pentagon Papers, which exposed the extent of US government lies about the Vietnam War.
Directed, in a bit of an unusual choice of subject, by Stephen Spielberg, the heavy-hitting cast aslso includes Tom Hanks as publisher Ben Bradlee, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, Carrie Coon, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood and Alison Brie. It plays as a bit of a potboiling thriller and a defense of journalism in the main and attempts to evoke a film like All The President's Men. The problem with films like this in the last decade or so has been that audiences have largely rejected message films, preferring to view film as escapism. Movie after movie about the Iraq War failed to connect. In the age of Trump, has that tide turned? That may be the case, as though it hasn't grabbed much in the way of critics awards, it has performed strongly in limited release so far, earning almost $4 million and a gaudy $47k per screen average last weekend in 36 venues.
Comparisons could be made here to Spotlight, which dealt with investigative reporters in a different, on-the-ground sense and on a much more depressing topic. That took a fair but of time to build and only wound up with $45 million domestically – The Post hits the ground running with a much bigger cast and a wide release in 2,800 venues that Spotlight never got. While it's lacking the boost that Golden Globe win might have given it, I still think it's set for a strong start with about $19 million.
Liam Neeson promised he was done with these kind of things, wasn't he? The Commuter is yet another in his line of Tough Old Guys Who Will Bad-Ass You To Death films (I really thought that embarrassing edit from Taken 3 would slam the lid on it) as a former NYC cop forced into a soul-sucking sales job and heavily in debt when he's offered an opportunity by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) – identify a particular passenger on their commuter train before it comes to the end of its line and he'll be paid a fortune. Fail to do so and we'll kill your family. No middle ground there?
Also starring Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, Patrick Wilson and Elizabeth McGovern and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously worked with Neeson in Non-Stop, it's a late entry in the “Die Hard on a...” series, but this has grown a bit stale and reviews are middling at best for this film. Three years after his last attempt at action, I think we're into the “chasing your tail” portion of this fad and an opening weekend of about $12 million seems in store.
More action is handled by Proud Mary, starring Taraji P. Henson as a hitwoman working for the Boston Mafia who stumbles across an orphaned boy when one of her hits goes wrong, then decides to protect him against a veritable army of villains, including Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley and Rade Serbedzija. It's like Gloria if Gena Rowlands was familiar with a sub-machine gun.
Not reviewed for critics, it's a bit of an orphan film in itself, with little ad support or push by its studio. Henson has become a solid lead against all odds, and this turn isn't a million miles away from Cookie on Empire, where she's honed her tough image. However, flying under the radar like it is, Proud Mary should only manage about $8 million this weekend.
Defying the odds, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle stayed on top last weekend and kept its support after the holidays with a $37 million weekend, crossing $250 million midweek. We're almost into a Terminator/Terminator 2 situation with the relative box office of this movie and it's original. Despite the presence of Paddington, this should still rule the roost as they're going after quite different audiences, and I'd look for about $25 million here.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi should slip past Insidious: The Last Key again this weekend, even as both tumble hard. Horror films are notorious for this, and while this surprised mightily with $29 million this weekend, it'd headed for about $11 million here. Star Wars, meanwhile, is moving a little slower than expected towards $600 million, but will bite off a big chunk of that with $13 million this frame.
Further holdovers are The Greatest Showman, which will chug along with $10 million, Pitch Perfect 3, which should finally have the bottom drop out with about $6 million, and the re-exanding Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which should get up to about $5 million after its Golden Globe win and a huge jump to over 1,000 venues.