Weekend Forecast for February 22-24, 2019

By Reagen Sulewski

February 21, 2019

Heart melts.

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We are not even two months in to 2019, and studio watchers are already in a mild state of panic. As the week over week returns have come in, underwhelming results for what seemed like sure things, or at least had the possibility of being a hit, have shaken up the future confidence in what people had planned. Into this arrives... another sequel, another finale of a series. Movie returns aren't really connected like this, but all the same, everyone's rooting for a hit on Oscars weekend.

How to Train Your Dragon might not be the biggest grossing animation series out there, but it may be the most positively viewed, outside of the Toy Stories. Each of the three movies (the probable finale arrives this weekend) has an over 90 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and with popular stage shows and a TV series, it's built a small empire about Scottish/Viking dragon trainers that's coming to its final test this weekend. The second film opened slightly higher than the first ($49 million vs $43 million) but finished below in the final domestic totals ($217 million vs $177 million). Will sequelitis and the ravages of time (it's now around nine years since the first film) prove to undo this last entry, or does quality still endure? The previous example of Kung Fu Panda may have people a little gun shy.

A big reason why this may behave differently is that DreamWorks has done the work of keeping this property vital, as well as making compelling advertising with plots that are more than just "that thing you saw, but more of it," including a satisfying narrative arc that's seen Jay Baruchel's Hiccup go from misfit to king. In this outing, he's searching for a mythical home of the dragons, "The Hidden World," only to find a yet another villain bent on stealing all of their now beloved dragons away. As well, Hiccup's own Night Fury, Toothless, long thought to the be the last of his kind, may have found a match in the form of a Light Fury. The buddy comedy aspect, combined with the keen insight on pet relationships, make this series a shining example of family entertainment.

Signs are good. then, that this can break the slump that has been 2019. With those aforementioned reviews and a massive 4,200 venues, How to Train Your Dragon 3 should grab an easy win this weekend with $41 million.

Our other wide release of the weekend is an expansion, Fighting With My Family. Written and directed by Stephen Merchant (yes, that Stephen Merchant), it's a mostly-true story about the journey of current WWE Diva Paige from her working class roots in northern England to wrestling stardom. Florence Pugh plays a slightly fictionalized version of the wrestler, with Nick Frost and Lena Headey as her rough and tumble (and supportive!) parents. Dwayne Johnson appears as himself as a mentor figure, but it's mostly a working class comedy combined with an underdog story. A strong limited release figure and excellent reviews point towards a possible long run, though it's going to count mostly on wrestling fans turning out, which has always been a tough prospect. Expanding to 2,700 venues this weekend, it should manage around $7 million.




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Alita: Battle Angel failed to create a bunch of excitement for its cyberpunk/anime hybrid with a $28 million opening. While James Cameron's name was attached, producer credits are often a sign of desperation and it's really Robert Rodriguez's film for good or bad. That's more often been "bad" in his career, though I don't think he's ever claimed to be more than a niche, genre filmmaker. This has the look of a one week wonder, and should fall to around $15 million.

The LEGO Movie 2 salvaged an OK second weekend after its monumentally disappointing debut, but this is going to struggle to reach half the total of the first film, making this a tragic miscalculation on some level of the production. Look for around $11 million in the third weekend, with an especially tough match-up against the Dragon sequel.

Anti-romantic comedy Isn't It Romantic underperformed slightly at $14 million, compared to similar films like I Feel Pretty and the previous weekend's What Men Want. Rebel Wilson perhaps still has a bit to go in terms of being a lead, though this one seemed tailor made for her to carry a film solo. Back to supporting or co-leads, perhaps? Second weekend should bring it $9 million. The previously mentioned What Men Want should see about $6 million in its third weekend, pointing towards around a $70 million domestic total.


Forecast: Weekend of February 22-24, 2019
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 4,259 New 41.4
2 Alita: Battle Angel 3,820 +30 15.3
3 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part 3,833 -470 11.6
4 Isn't It Romantic 3,444 0 8.9
5 Fighting With My Family 2,711 +2,707 7.3
6 What Men Want 2,389 -523 6.3
7 Happy Death Day 2U 3,212 +5 4.8
8 The Upside 2,148 -633 4.0
9 Cold Pursuit 2,320 -210 3.8
10 Glass 1,440 -1,135 2.4

     


 
 

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Saturday, February 23, 2019
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