While much of the North American audience is already looking three weeks forward, there's still a bit of an appetizer, an amuse bouche, for the superhero crowd. It's not quite enough to claim its own weekend though, with two other films jockeying for elbow room. It hasn't been a particularly crowded last month though, so the coffers do need to be refilled a bit.
Weekend Forecast for April 5-7, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
April 4, 2019
One of DC's stranger properties, though it does get back to the old wish-fulfillment ideal of the classic age of comics, Shazam! is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe. Like a superhero version of Big, it centers around a young boy, Billy Batson, who is granted the super powers by a wizard (whee, DC) that also turn him into a grown man whenever he says a magic word. Played by Zachery Levi (best known from the TV series Chuck, but who's been fairly invisible for the last five years), he's a literal man-child that has to wrestle with his new powers, and is pitted against a super-villain (Mark Strong) that aims to use the power of the Seven Deadly Sins to control the world.
There's quite the silly and light-hearted tone that they're going for here, with the potential sacrifice of some of the older audience. It's a bit of a calculation, perhaps, that grimdark needs a bit of an antidote in the current marketplace. It's a tactic that's worked well for the last couple of Spider-Man movies (Spider-verse and otherwise), and to a lesser extent the Aquaman and Deadpool movies. Superhero movies should be fun, you see, and with the Return of the King-like Endgame coming up, maybe we want something in a much lighter vane. It's a solid gamble.
Things didn't look quite that way to begin with, as the initial trailer was just plain bad and embarrassing. Whatever the problems were, that's been cleaned up in later material with the tone adjusted and the balance between pre-teen fantasy and grown-up expectations becoming a little more clear. Reviews are very strong and it's got a full court press on the promotion from Warner Bros. There's almost a charming old-school feel to this - like a superhero film from the 90s, but with the lessons learned from that time of what not to do in a heightened film. A start of around $57 million seems likely here.
The enormous success of It two years ago saw a bit of a revival in getting the novels of Stephen King back to the big screen. Several dozen of his works are currently in some stage of finishing, a speed of adaptation that hasn't been seen since the 80s, though I'd note that a bunch of them are short films based on his short stories. Pet Sematary is one of the better and scarier adaptations and it gets a remake this weekend.
The story is one of his better known and creepier ones - a Maine burial ground has the ability to bring dead things buried in it back to life - although they come back "wrong". Jason Clarke plays the father of a young family that discovers this when their family pet, a cat, is killed, then brought back, ornery and kind of hostile (so "a cat", you say). While this very possibly a bit of a mistake to do, this is tested even further when the family's daughter (a change from a son in the original story) is run over and in his grief, he decides to test out what the cemetery can do for people. Nothing great, one supposes, and what's dead is probably better left there, rather than paying the terrible cost of bringing someone back.
Also starring John Lithgow and Amy Seimitz, it's basically another entry in the "Creepy Kid" genre, albeit with excellent name recognition. The heights reached by It's opening weekend shouldn't be expected here - that had a much stronger campaign and horror hook - but a strong weekend based on decent reviews should help. I'd expect around $33 million this weekend, with breakout potential in the mix.
The Best of Enemies is our third new film this weekend, starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell in a story about a civil rights activist and a Klan leader coming together to find common ground in 1970s' North Carolina over school integration. Can these two diametrically opposed people come together to fix race relations once and for all? Well... *points around at all this*
Very much a message movie, it's the first time directorial effort from Robin Bissell, who was a producer of Pleasantville, The Hunger Games and Free State of Jones, among others. Also starring Anne Heche, Bruce McGill, Wes Bentley and Nick Searcy, it's a off-Oscar season race relations film, which tells us a little bit about its perceived quality. Reviews are fairly middle of the road, and with little ad support and critical hype, I'd expect this to come in with around $8 million this weekend.
The limits of Disney's live action remake strategy may have been reached, after Dumbo's $45 million opening weekend, a figure that's deeply unimpressive compared to the takes of things like Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book. As one of the less loved entries in Disney's catalog, there was just less draw potential than the past couple of films. It's tempting to put a little of the blame on Tim Burton and his overly twee stylings, but honestly the directors don't really matter that much when you're aping the look and feel of classic films. There's not much to recommend this beyond nostalgia so I'd estimate a decent drop this weekend to around $26 million.
Jordan Peele's horror epic Us didn't repeat the legs of Get Out, but with a bigger opening weekend, a lot of those legs were built in. A $33 million second weekend points to around a $200-225 million final figure or so, but a better number than the $175 million his first film pulled in is all but assured. Its third weekend, even with Pet Sematary in the mix, should be around $19 million.
Captain Marvel reached the $350 million milestone last weekend and after four weekends, its final figure is becoming more clear - around $425 million seems likely, with maybe a bit of a boost as the last Avengers film comes out, with a bit of a synergistic effect. I'd look for $12 million this frame.