Weekend Forecast for January 27-29, 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
January 27, 2017
Ordinarily, this is a weekend that would be dominated by thought about how the Oscar nominations will affect the box office charts – and that's still a large part of it, but a controversy about one of this weekend's films has reared its head in perhaps the most unexpected way.
We'll get to that in a bit, but other business first - while there's no direct connection between the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises, they're kind of spiritual sisters, having debuted around the same time, and sharing an aesthetic of ass-kicking female leads in gothic settings. Based on the popular video game series that's also getting a new entry (synergy!), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter purports to put this one to bed (any Friday the 13th fans will have seen this trick before). Mill Jovovich (in what has basically been her main gig for the past decade and a half) returns to take Alice back to the start of the zombie outbreak that has destroyed humanity and is about to finish it off once and for all.
Joined by Ali Larter, who's been part of the last two films, Ruby Rose and Game of Thrones' Iain Glen as the main antagonist, it once again combines its heavily stylized action scenes with zombie/monster carnage. Director Paul W.S. Anderson returns to finish what he started, for a series that's proven highly resilient, with each of the sequels opening over $20 million, even if the last entry finished just barely over $40 million. But back to that quasi-Underworld connection – the recent disappointing turnout for that long running franchise may indicate some cross-franchise fatigue. Resident Evil has a bit of an advantage in that it's been kept slightly fresh by its continuance as a video game, in the same way that a new Tomb Raider movie, for example, would still get some buzz.
Reviews are... sparse, but mostly negative, though it's unlikely to matter to its fans. The bigger problem is the five year gap between films, which has probably caused some viewers to forget about it or shed the franchise, as well as the general move away from theater viewing that's occurred in that time. With this in mind, I'd look for about $16 million this weekend.
Before last week, A Dog's Purpose was just a forgettable piece of manipulative entertainment about the many lives of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad), reincarnating over and over to try and get back to its original owner, played by KJ Apa as a teen and Dennis Quaid in modern day. And that's about it for plot – a bunch of cute dog scenes interspersed with it dying over and over and over again because life is pain. Thanks, Hollywood!
That is, until a video surfaced last week that purported to show one of the dogs used for a particularly dangerous looking stunt in artificial rapids terrified at the idea of being tossed into them. You know, like a dog naturally would. This raised questions about just how the animals on this set were treated. Since the film is trying to appeal specifically to animal lovers, this had the potential to be a killshot and for a while, it appeared like that might be the case, as premieres and advance screenings were cancelled. Even its director, Lasse Hallstrom, who wasn't present for the filming of the stunt, started asking for answers.