There is a pattern of late in which we either get one gigantic blockbuster or a slate of mediocrity, at least in box office terms. Hellboy, our leading film from this week's offering, is no blockbuster, so perhaps draw your own conclusions for how this weekend will turn out.
Weekend Forecast for April 12-14, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
April 11, 2019
In the realm of franchises you thought might be rebooted, Hellboy was probably somewhere in the middle. The adaptation of the graphic novel about a demon from hell called forth by Nazis, but on the side of the good guys fighting monsters and other such supernatural beings, had two modestly successful films in the early 00s, with the strength of now-Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro behind them. Ron Perlman was an outstanding choice as the titular hero, albeit mostly unrecognizable under pounds and pounds of red body makeup. The films boasted a goofy gothic charm and imaginative takes on what a super hero film could look like, even if they weren't smashes.
Eleven years later, he get a return to the material, with David Harbour (recently of Stranger Things) inheriting the role, while the directing task went to Neil Marshall, who does not seem to be threatening to become another del Toro (he's had brief flashes of greatness with The Descent, but that's about it in a two decade career). While Harbour's a decent choice for the gruff, boozing hero, the film seems to have been made for the sole purpose making an R-rated movie, trying to have their own alt-Deadpool. This seems to be only a half measure at that and it's really aiming at the crowd that think swears are automatically funny. There's a cheapness to the look of the whole thing, which made for a terrible first trailer, That was rectified a little bit in its second round of ad material, which were funnier and had a little bit more of the edge you'd like to see in a Hellboy movie, but the slapdash feel is hard to shake.
The secondary cast includes Ian McShane, who's having a great second half of his career as a gruff mentor-type, Milla Jovovich in a rare villanous turn, and Daniel Dae Kim as another member of the monster fighting squad, but it's mostly on Harbour, unfortunately. While he's got self-destructive charm to spare, he's not quite leading man material yet (though Hellboy is perhaps an impossible task for any actor of any name). Worse yet, the film is garnering awful reviews, and it appears to be just another CGI-fest with no emotional weight to it. The previous iterations of the Hellboy franchise opened to $23 and $34 million each, numbers that this film isn't likely to approach. While there's a decent following for it, reviews are going to scare off all but the hardened and we'll see a start of about $18 million.
While not a direct remake or reboot, Little can't help but inspire comparisons to another legendary comedy, Big. Regina Hall stars as a Type-A businesswoman, regarded as a bit of a ball buster, who is transformed into her 11-year-old self by a wish from another little girl. Because this is a sitcom of a movie, the film is then focused on how her tech company is going be run - that's given over to her assistant, played by Issa Rae, and how the new little person has to go back to school, where inappropriate passes at teachers are the source of a lot of awkward comedy.
Most of the film seems to be based around lessons being learned by all, especially about the pressures of modern life, with some advocacy for parenting strategies that might be really frowned on if we were dealing with an actual 11 year old. That it's from a sitcom director really fits, and with the obvious comparisons to Tom Hanks' first breakout hit, it seems to fall short in the matchup. The front and center selling of Regina Hall seems like a bait and switch, as it's pretty obvious that she's only there for the setup (and maybe the end, spoilers?). I feel like savvy viewers can tell this going in and we can probably discount her as a draw. Black-ish's Marsai Martin may have a following from her TV show but the transition from TV to movies is always a tough one for young actors. However, the ads for this are decent and it's a broad enough concept to attract the smaller family comedy audiences that we get these days. I'd expect $15 million this weekend.
Laika is a relatively new player in the animation world, having produced five movies with their CGI-stop-motion technique, and their sixth, Missing Link, coming out this week. Zach Galifiankis voices the main character, Bigfoot, who hires the world's greatest explorer, voiced by Hugh Jackman, to take him around the world to the land of the Yeti, who he thinks are his cousins. Along the way they're joined by a guide, voiced by Zoe Saldana, and try to remain under the radar from those that would capture Bigfoot for their own ends.
Laika's films are often a little off kilter and use different cultural reference points, which makes them stand out in quality, though it's also made them a tough sell. Their last film, Kubo and the Two Strings, borrowed heavily from Japanese mythology to great effect but locked it out of a larger audience. This film seems in line with their gentle approach to story telling. They've never opened a film above $17 million and this seems to be towards the lower end of their pack. It may also suffer from the recent Smallfoot, which superficially covered the same ground. Reviews are pretty strong, as typical for the studio, and this should lead to an opening of about $14 million.
Horrible 20-something romance gets its latest entry with After, which is trying sooooo hard to be a non-supernatural version of Twilight, or an even more vanilla, college-age 50 Shades. Relative newcomers Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin (nephew of Ralph and Joseph) play hesitant romantic partners, she and innocent, he a brooding bad boy with a dark past. What ever could break their great love apart? This seems to be basically straight up trash and is hoping to be a Wild Things for a new generation, but without the wink wink. I'd expect a rather limp opening weekend of $6 milllion.
This leaves things wide open for Shazam! to take a second weekend at the top, after its $53 million start. That's good by DC's standards but it's telling that it would be a disaster for a Marvel film. Amusingly, it's thematically kind of similar to this weekend's Little though the crossover between the audiences seems small. Word of mouth is OK but I wouldn't expect legs, The usual superhero drop off to around $25 million should be in store.
Pet Sematary's $24 million certainly pales in comparison to the massive opening weekend of It two years ago, but no one really expected a similar start. Onne of Stephen King's scarier stories, it's not full of as many iconic images as some of the more successful adaptations in his repertoire. This was still a decent start though, especially based on the tiny $21 million budget. A typical horror drop is over 50 per cent, and maybe a little more is expected here. Give it $11 million this frame.
Dumbo's disappointing start was followed up by a huge second weekend drop, making this a rare misfire from Disney in its "remake everything" era. It needs very little to cross the $100 million mark that's been oh so important to the Mouse House of late, but you have to think they were thinking about more. This is the first ding in the armor of this new strategy and might put a liiiitle bit of doubt in the minds of the people behind some of their future projects. Give this $9 million in its third weekend.
With Avengers-mania beginning to peak, Captain Marvel had a solid hold in its fifth weekend, with $400 million in its sights. Especially with Endgame ads appearing that feature Brie Larson's character front and center, this should continue to draw up to and even past the premiere of the latest Avengers movie two weeks from now. Give it $9 million this weekend.
Jordan Peele's Us continued its steep drops, losing nearly 60 per ent in its third weekend. Already at $150+ million, though, it's unquestionably one of the year's biggest stories already, as it further established Peele as a Thing. It should see around $6 million here.