This year is full of endings, so many that 2019 is even being referred to as the Year of the Finale. We get one out of the way right in January, though it's not one would have been on people's radars even a year ago.
Weekend Forecast for January 18-20, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
January 17, 2019
The Career Resurrection of M. Night Shyamalan (How's He Going To Blow It This Time?) is one of the more intriguing and unlikely subplots of the last few years, with the past wunderkind of directing going from world beater to punchline to box office poison to maaaybe? viable again? I'm not quite sure we're ready as a culture to respect him again, though he's at least trying to meet us halfway. Glass supposedly wraps up the bow we didn't know was being tied, which started all the way back in 2000 with Unbreakable, his lo-fi superhero film with Bruce Willis and continued with Split, featuring James McAvoy. The latter dropped the bomb at the end of being in a connected universe, since that was all the rage at the time (I remain unconvinced that this was anything but a last minute shoehorned decision with an easy take-back if it didn't pan out).
In Glass, we're focused on Samuel L. Jackson's mastermind character first introduced in Unbreakable, who has designs on revealing to the world that super-powered people exist, first with Willis' near-invulnerable David Dunn, and next with McAvoy's multiple personalities, one of whom takes on super-human abilities in the form of The Beast. Locked together in a mental institution, Mr. Glass attempts to force the issue by forcibly unleashing McAvoy's most destructive personality, breaking them both out, with Willis sure to follow to save the day.
Both Unbreakable and Split were surprises in their own way – with viewers not really aware that they were actually watching a comic book film for the first (and this, in the time before that was an established and workable genre of film) with Split's connection to it only revealed in an end credit sequence. For a director known for his twists, this may be the ultimate twist of all. Glass assumes that we all want to see this connected together and concluded and well... Shyamalan might not be wrong about this. It's a bold move for a guy who's made bold moves through his career, both for good and bad.
Glass may be “for bad” after all, though, with critics mostly hammering it for some of the same-old overstuffed importance and clunky, draw-attention-to-how-clever-it's-being plot. Shyamalan seems to do his best work when he's underestimated and he's gotten back to dangerous levels of esteem (P.S. dude, no one needs to defend comic books as Serious Film anymore). That doesn't mean that this won't work in the box office, as it's reached huge levels of hype and it appears that people *want* to give Shyamalan that third (fourth? Eighth?) chance, which, fair play on that one.
Unbreakable's box office seems mostly irrelevant at this point, looking foggy through the mists of 18+ years of change in patterns. Split is definitely relevant here though, with its $40 million opening weekend when people had no idea it was even connected to anything. McAvoy continues to get legitimate raves for his performance, which requires him to turn on a dime (not really, I mean, that's not how films are made, but you know) with his characters, while Willis might be woken out of his 15 years of acting somnambulism. That it's apparently not any good will hurt a bit, but we're definitely playing this one out, and a n opening weekend of around $52 million seems likely here.
Aquaman was denied a fourth weekend at the top by a surprise performance from The Upside, with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston's buddy comedy about a disabled billionaire and his ex-con home aide breaking $20 million. I know, why would this ever possibly miss, right? Basically it shows that Hart remains a decently strong draw even for a film that looks like it's trying for prestige drama without the prestige. At about two-thirds of a Night School, it's a solid win all around, and should manage around $11 million this frame.
Meanwhile, Aquaman started showing a bit of weakness last weekend, even as its international totals rocketed up over $1 billion (I mean, ye gods, people. It's shiny, but...). The $300 million milestone should fall this weekend with $325 million looking like the new stopping point. I'd look for $9 million this weekend.
Slightly disappointing was A Dog's Way Home, which opened at $11 million, quite a-ways below its spiritual predecessor, A Dog's Purpose. It seemed to be hoping that “Cute animals plus adventure” equaled a guaranteed win, but failed to match the epic scope of that other film. With a family friendly premise, I'd expect it hold OK, with around $7 million this weekend.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse continues to play well, several weeks after the holidays, and awards attention is giving it a small buoy into 2019. The animated super-hero film is now looking like a $175 million film, with a small outside chance at more if Oscar attention comes in time. I'd expect $6 million here.