The problem for a studio with establishing a successful film franchise is that you never really want to let it go. Especially when it's a franchise that changed the course of Hollywood, the addicting power of the press attention and the potential of sky rocketing receipts is a tough one to pass up. So when you've used up all your source material? Well, just make more.
Weekend Forecast for November 16-18, 2018
By Reagen Sulewski
November 15, 2018
That's where we find ourselves with Fantastic Beasts 2: The Grimes of Grindelwald, the second of the spin-off films from the Harry Potter universe adapted from the beastiary mentioned within the original books. Written directly by J.K. Rowling herself, the films build up the history of the wizarding world and a conflict that occurred in the early 1900s between different factions, complete with their own version of a Big Bad, the titular Grindelwald (played here by Johnny Depp, who's shown as little as possible in the advertising, for... reasons). Eddie Redmayne returns as Newt Scamander, the nervous young magiczoologist at the center of this conflict.
Significantly within the Potter-verse, we have the entry of a younger version of Albus Dumbledore, who was Newt's mentor, played here by Jude Law. Significant returning members of the cast include Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Ezra Miller, while Zoe Kravitz makes for a notable addition to the group.
While no one really expected a spin-off to approach the numbers of the latter Harry Potter films right out of the gate, at $74 million and $234 million domestic, Warner Brothers couldn't exactly be jumping up and down over this figure. Internationally, it's shone brighter, with a little over $800 million in receipts, which has somewhat justified their plans in at least five films in this series. Just looking at that feels like a bit of an ordeal though, like homework instead of entertainment. The Potter series notably started while the books were still in the process of being completed, and had Potter fever to feed off. We're some years past that now, and while it's firmly in the realm of modern classics, this work can't help but feel a bit of a knock-off.
That's an opinion mostly shared by critics, which have deviated from the mostly rapturous reviews of the main series to rate these two movies as middling at best. For Warner Bros., which has had a decent year with a couple of surprises, having a renewed Potter franchise is quite important to their future plans, especially since their DC plans are falling through as we speak. Although the press blitz is in full force for this sequel, I think this will struggle to match the opening weekend of the first film, as they've failed to establish a buy in, and there's no drive from fans to see how the film version matches up to a book. I'd expect a $68 million opening weekend.
Instant Family is a semi-autobiographical film about director Sean Anders' entry into the world of fostering, and later full-adoption. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play a married childless couple, who while renovating a giant house, decide they're going to try and fill it with kids from the foster system. They're presented with a teenager and her two younger siblings, making for a giant clash of emotions, as well as cultures, since their new kids are Hispanic.
Anders past work includes the Daddy's Home films, along with We're the Millers and Horrible Bosses 2, so that tells us a little bit about the tone we're going for here – fairly irreverent and occasionally risque, but tweaked here for family audiences. Anders has built up a solid body of work in his comedies, while Wahlberg has become a pretty consistent draw across genres. Byrne has less of a track record as a lead, but also has a number of solid hits to her name and is secretly a comedy powerhouse. It's lighter fare than their usual films and doesn't quite have the edge or hook of other movies mentioned so far in this section, so even though it may mean well, it's probably headed for a smaller but respectable opening weekend of $18 million.
“Crime family, but it's women” seems to be the idea behind Widows, which adapts a British TV series to the screen. When four bank robbers are double crossed and killed in the course of a job, their widows are left behind and blackmailed by the mob boss who hired them for the money lost in the course of the crime. Their only recourse is to attempt a heist themselves, with their very lives on the line.
A heavy-hitting cast includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Carrie Coon as the widows, with Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Brian Tyree Williams and Daniel Kaluuya in other roles. The best-reviews new film of the week, it's a tight crime thriller with big talent behind the camera as well, with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and Gone Girl scripter Gillian Flynn on board. It also just looks... fun, and is a pretty good candidate for a small breakout. Crime films usually start small though, and this should manage a solid $17 million this weekend.
The second iteration of The Grinch to hit big screens opened to $67 million, putting it in solid position for the Thanksgiving weekend and family audiences. Gaining mostly positive reviews, although not over enthusiastic ones, it should drop to about $41 million for its second frame.
Bohemian Rhapsody had a solid hold at $31 million and hitting $100 million domestic by the end of its second weekend. Under different circumstances, this might be the point where we start talking about Oscar campaigns, but the muddy production situation and an already crowded Oscar field probably nixes that idea. I'd look for $19 million here.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is definitively Disney's first disappointment of the year, dropping by half last weekend. There just seems to be no appetite for a Nutcracker movie in any form, and this will likely end up at $55 million domestic. It'll grab about $6 million this weekend. War-horror blend Overlord had a slightly disappointing debut at $10 million and seems likely to drop to around $5 million based on genre conventions. Meanwhile, A Star is Born continues to leg it out, having now reached $180 million on the back of its third straight weekend of a drop under 30 per cent. It should add another $5 million this weekend, with about $215 million domestic as a good target.