So, remember when I said that thing about January no longer having to be a dumping zone, with high box office films potentially opening all year round? Turns out that studios have to cooperate with that for it work.
Weekend Forecast for January 31-February 2, 2020
By Reagen Sulewski
January 30, 2002
The Rhythm Section is here to finally give America what it wants: Blake Lively, Action Star. She stars as a woman who loses her family in a plane crash, only to discover that it was deliberately brought down. Having spent the past three years spiralling down in her life, she connects with a MI-6 agent (Jude Law) who trains her (~montage!/nothing better than a montage!~) in the way of revenge. After that, she becomes a low-rent Jason Bourne, tracking down those responsible for killing her family, with the help of an English accent and a series of befitting wigs.
Directed by Reed Morano, the first director and producer of The Handmaid's Tale, it's a curious tale of female empowerment, but at its heart really just wants to be a moody, globe-trotting action thriller. While this is her first role as an action lead, Lively has definitely shown a range in her film choices, with baroque romantic films, killer animal movies and trashy potboilers all in her repertoire. It's a limited one though, with only 6 films in the last five years, making comparisons a little difficult. The domestic takes have settled into a relatively narrow range at around $40 to 50 million, when they're given a decent wide release.
The Rhythm Section (a terrible title, but it refers to a complicated metaphor about controlling emotions while in combat) gets that, but also has poor reviews that hammer at its implausibilty and a limited amount of ad support. Female action has come a long way (see: Salt and Captain Marvel, for two very different examples, but I'm talking quality here) but this seems to be an inferior example of the genre, with an actor not many are itching to see in this kind of role. I'd look for a fairly small $9 million start.
Gretel and Hansel is an adaptation of the Grimm Fairy Tale, with the title flip indicating a bit of a perspective switch. No longer simply a tale of a witch in the woods who bakes children, it introduces us to a grand coven of witches which seeks to induct Gretel into their ranks - with the mere price of turning over her brother. Not quite so eager to do that, she taps into her inner power to battle her sinister intentions. Heavily stylized, it's a cross between fantasy and horror, heavy on the gross-out scenes, and looks like a 90 minute music video (that length is a big red flag).
Sophia Lillis (the young Beverly in It) takes the lead role, with genre-legend Alice Krieg (probably best known as The Borg Queen) as the evil witch Holda, and not too many people else, keeping the budget ultra-low at $5 million. That's helpful, as it's not even likely to grab a lot of horror fans. I'd expect a barely-there $6 million start.
That sets things up for a third weekend for Bad Boys For Life, currently sitting at around $130 million after two weeks. The Will Smith/Martin Lawrence "daaaayyam too old for this sheet" action film actually held well at $34 million last weekend, possibly due to the absence of anything else worth seeing, possibly due to the sheer novelty of stars in a January film. It's now approaching the all-time record for a "pure" (not expanding) January release, which it should hit on Friday, passing Ride Along. I'd expect $16 million this weekend.
Oscar front-runner 1917 held decently in its third weekend of wide release, dropping by about a quarter and crossing $100 million domestically. The "single-shot" war film has proven that its gimmick is a highly effective one, bringing in this amount without the benefit of any particular stars, but instead on an experience that demands a theater viewing. I'd look for this to add $11 million this weekend.
Robert Downey Jr.'s misfire Dolittle had an OK second weekend, but its seems destined for around $75 million domestic, on a sky-high nine-figure budget. It does not seem to be lighting things up worldwide yet either, leaving him with a missed shot out of the gate after Avengers. Sherlock Holmes 3 probably can't arrive soon enough. Give this $7 million this weekend.
The Gentlemen lived down to genre expectations with a $10 million start, definitely harkening back to Guy Ritchie's indie days. While word of mouth is decent for the film, it's unlikely to find much in the way of legs, and just like Downey, Ritchie will need to be returning to the comforts of blockbuster land soon. I'd give this $6 million this weekend.