In contrast to last weekend's bounty of new films, there's but a single new option for most people in wide release, but one that at least looks like it should top the box office. Better get in there before the upcoming October juggernaut, right?
Weekend Forecast for September 27-29, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
September 26, 2019
Abominable, the latest film from DreamWorks Animation, is the Bug's Life to the Antz of last year's Smallfoot, and the sudden interest in Yeti and Yeti-adjacent filmmaking continues unabaited. While Smallfoot took the point of view of the Yetis, this one takes a little more traditional path to its story, with a young girl in Shanghai discovering an escaped beast on her rooftop, which she then tries to guide back to the Himalayas on the run from a team of evil scientists. Hold on, let me just scratch these letters off my script here... E....and T.... there we go...Alright then, where was I? Oh right, yetis!
Chloe Bennett voices the young girl, with other notable names in the voice cast belonging to Eddie Izzard and Sarah Paulson (and, somewhat randomly, the grandson of Tenzing Norgay). The remainder of the cast is filled out by mostly unfamiliar Chinese names, as this film wears its co-production with a Chinese studio right out on its sleeve. While studios have tried to make their mark before with animation from the east (remember Rock Dog, which combined the two things kids love the most - conforming to your parents expectations and Buddhism?), tying itself to an American studio is a smart play, even if you're going to mostly forgo American talent for the voices.
Reviews are fairly strong, although ad support is fairly modest. The visuals are quite spectacular and make a decent connection with the studio's How to Train Your Dragon series, which it highlights strongly in those ads that do exist. If it is to match that series, it'll take some time to build, and as a new property is looking for something more in the $32 million opening weekend range.
Downton Abbey was a surprise winner for last weekend's box office, surging to a $31 million weekend as it brought to a close the British costume drama TV series on the big screen. It's even getting a decent expansion in theaters this weekend, as the chance of legs emerges. There's some competing factors here - built up audiences thanks to it being a finale and/or a series adaptation, quality creating word of mouth, the fact that nothing really gets legs anymore, and that older audiences often take their time getting to theaters. I lean towards a decent hold for the second weekend, with a take of around $22 million, and potential for $125 million domestic when it's all done.
Old school sci-fi film Ad Astra was a strong second place with $19 million, creating a decent hit out of an idiosyncratic and contemplative take on space travel and the search for alien life. That kind of film often gets a poor response from audiences that are sold on a more slam-bang action version of sci-fi. Word of mouth is actually OK, but just OK and it should see a second weekend of around $11 million.
Rambo: Last Blood has a solid $18 million start for its brand of ultra-violent revenge action, and giving Sylvester Stallone another late career revival, though committing to this "last" business was maybe short sighted? Enh, they can always go back on that (New First Blood. Got it right here. Story credit please). Legs should definitely not be present here, and like the last Rambo film 11 years ago, it should drop quite steeply to around $8 million.
It wasn't a great weekend for holdovers in general, with It Chapter Two and Hustlers both falling about 50 percent or a little more. In the case of It, that's less concerning and we're still looking for around $250 million domestic. Hustlers has been making some side-eye glances at awards season though, and having a bigger box office number would really make that case. Both of these films should end up around $7 million this weekend.