Friday, January 15, 2016

Fantasy Box Office - MLK Weekend

            As we continue into the doldrums of January, we have three types of movies that usually dominate theatres this time of year opening this weekend: low-budget animation, minority-centric comedy and recent phenomenon uber-patriotic action movie.
            The smallest of the releases is NORM OF THE NORTH, a Lionsgate animated flick about a displaced polar bear running around New York City featuring the voice talents of Rob Schneider & Heather Graham.  Usually, animated features released this time of year earn $6 million opening weekend then disappear after three weeks.  Two years ago, THE NUT JOB from Open Road earned $19+ million opening weekend on the way to a $121 million worldwide gross & a sequel in the works.  TNJ could be considered an anomaly since it was the first children’s movie in 9 weeks when released whereas NotN opens five weeks after the 4th ALVIN movie and two weeks before the 3rd KUNG FU PANDA.  I’m leaning closer to the traditional performance of an animated flick but with the poor performance of ALVIN, I’m wondering if parents want to try to get kids out of the house anyway they can.
            The widest new release of the weekend is RIDE ALONG 2, the sequel to the 2014 Kevin Hart-Ice Cube hit.  RA2 is being released on the same weekend as it predecessor, MLK weekend.  The PG-13 original made $41.5 million in three days & $48.5 million in four, which grossed higher that either of Hart’s two R-rated comedies from last year.  The sequel, also rated PG-13, is the first new comedy in 3 weeks and features an even more diverse cast than the last one with the addition of Ken Jeong in what appears to be a significant role.  I don’t expect a huge bump from the last one but I also don’t expect a collapse like other sequels to poorly-reviewed comedies due to Kevin Hart's star power.
            Finally, there’s the most controversial of the new releases, Michael Bay’s 13 HOURS.  Based on the 2012 Benghazi attacks, Bay’s movie features a minor star in John Krasinski and major explosions that have always populated his movies.  Knowing the politics surrounding Bay & the book this is based on, I could see a certain half of the political spectrum flocking to this just like they did two previous movies released around the same time.  Two years ago, LONE SURVIVOR opened wide with a surprising $37.85 million weekend on its way to a $154 million worldwide.  Last year, AMERICAN SNIPER’s wide debut exploded to an $89.2 million weekend, eventually becoming the highest grossing movie of 2014.  But how high will 13 HOURS go?  One thing the other two movies had were a big star (Wahlberg/Cooper) and a real-life hero (Marcus Luttrell/Chris Kyle).  13 HOURS has Jim from The Office & anonymous protagonists.  But will that matter to the Fox News crowd?
            As for the older releases, STAR WARS should finally fall from its #1 perch this week with a moderate drop.  With its numerous Oscar nominations, THE REVENANT should continue to grab attention from those looking for prestige movies.  With RIDE ALONG 2 poised to win the weekend, older comedies DADDY’S HOME, SISTERS & (to a lesser extent due to Oscar attention) THE BIG SHORT should have bigger drops that usual for their runs.  Speaking of Oscar attention, CAROL & SPOTLIGHT both expand, hoping to catch the eyes of awards watchers.

Top 15 Predictions (4-Day Weekend)
1. RIDE ALONG 2 - $53.5 million *FML Bonus Winner*
2. THE REVENANT -$35.84 million
3. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - $29.48 million
4. 13 HOURS - $27.3 million
5. NORM OF THE NORTH - $11.25 million
6. DADDY’S HOME - $10.27 million
7. THE FOREST - $6.12 million
8. SISTERS - $4.745 million
9. THE BIG SHORT - $4.211 million
10. THE HATEFUL EIGHT - $3.96 million
11. ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: ROAD CHIP - $3.92 million
12. JOY - $2.954 million
13. CAROL - $2.25 million
14. CONCUSSION - $1.8174 million
15. SPOTLIGHT - $1.5 million

Fantasy Movie League Lineup
            As for my lineup this week, everything came down to how much confidence I have in 13 HOURS.  In the end, it wasn’t enough.  Based upon my projections, using a two-screen foundation of RA2 & SW7 was the best use of FML dollars & screens while leaving enough of both to get a lot of Oscar bait filler of CAROL & SPOTLIGHT.  At least that was the plan until CAROL didn’t receive Best Picture & Best Director nominations.  I quickly scrambled by changing those two screens into a fifth SPOTLIGHT and, because of the amount of FML bucks left, JOY.  I just hope the Fox News crowd gets snowed in this weekend or I’ll kick myself for weeks for not going with my first instinct.  But with how little the weekend grosses will be, the penalty for won’t be too severe.

Cost: 995 FML Bucks
Projected Gross: $95.43185 million

Good Luck & Buy a Winning Ticket!

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