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2017 Preview: February

February 1st, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

January turned out to be a good month. Granted, it didn’t live up to last January, but its box office was one of the top five Januarys of all time, so that’s still a good start to the year. Also, we will have our first $100 million movie released in 2017 and that doesn’t happen this early very often. As for February, there’s potentially the first $200 million hit of the year, The Lego Batman Movie. Fifty Shades Darker and The Great Wall both have a shot at $100 million. That said, it is more likely that both will miss that milestone than both will get there. As for the rest of the films, there are a few that are aiming for solid midlevel hits, like John Wick: Chapter Two and Get Out, while there are very few potential bombs. By comparison, last February there was one monster hit, Deadpool, and a lot of bombs. No other movie besides Deadpool made $50 million. No movie opening this month will match Deadpool, but we won’t have as many bombs either, so hopefully that will balance out and 2017 won’t fall further behind 2016.

Weekend of February 3rd, 2017

Rings

There are only two wide releases this week: Rings and The Space Between Us. Rings is a delayed sequel to a horror franchise. We had two of those films open in January and neither of them were hits. I seriously doubt this one will be any different. The Space Between Us is the latest film being released by STX Entertainment. I think it will top their previous film, The Bye Bye Man, but not by much. On a side note, the film opening this week I’m most excited to see is Journey to the West 2. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, two of which bombed and the other struggled. 2017 might actually have a shot at a win in the year-over-year comparison. It should at least be close.

Rings

Rings
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RingsMovie.Tumblr.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: February 3rd, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence/terror, thematic elements, some sexuality and brief drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Supernatural, Curses, Delayed Sequel
Directed By: Javier Gutierrez
Written By: David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Aimee Teegarden
Production Budget: Reported at $33 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

This is already the third delayed sequel to a horror franchise to open this year. The first two underperformed compared to the franchises’ average and I fear this one will do the same. There’s also a real possibility that we will have hit horror saturation already and fans of the genre will be burned out. On the other hand, it is the biggest release of the week and there’s not a lot of competition this weekend.

Last minute update: There are still no reviews, which would normally be a bad sign. However, I didn’t think this film would be a critical darling, so I took this into account with my original prediction.

The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: STXMovies.com/TheSpaceBetweenUs/
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Release Date: February 3rd, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief sensuality and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Near Future, Space Program, Mars, Troubled Pregnancy or Miscarriage, Died During Childbirth, Young Child Dealing with the Death of a Parent, Coming of Age, Romance, Medical and Hospitals
Directed By: Peter Chelsom
Written By: Allan Loeb, Peter Chelsom, Tinker Lindsay
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson
Production Budget: Estimate at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

STX Entertainment has released only one movie that was a $100 million hit and no others that earned more than $50 million. This film also doesn’t have a lot of buzz behind it and very little star power on either side of the camera, so it will likely struggle in theaters. I don’t think it will be the biggest bomb of the month, but it also won’t be a hit.

Last minute update: There are still no reviews. If I thought the film was going to be a hit before, I would like change my mind with this information. However, since I thought it will struggle already, there’s not a lot of room to get worse.

Weekend of February 10th, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

This is technically Valentine weekend, it is also Presidents’ Day weekend. Because of this, it is the best weekend by far with potentially the only $200 million hit of the month and the only other $100 million hit of the month. The LEGO Batman Movie is almost guaranteed to be the biggest hit of the month. It is also almost guaranteed to earn better reviews than any of the D.C.E.U. films. (If Wonder Woman sucks, I will be crushed. I want this franchise to work.) Fifty Shades Darker is the follow-up to Fifty Shades of Grey. It won’t be as big at the box office; then again, even if it barely makes half of what its predecessor made, it will still be massively profitable. Finally there is John Wick: Chapter Two, the sequel to the criminally ignored John Wick. If this movie doesn’t make a whole lot more at the box office, then the moviegoing public deserves to suffer through a hundred Suicide Squads. This weekend last year ... Deadpool. Oh boy, 2017 is going to get crushed in the year-over-year comparison.

Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FiftyShadesMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 10th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, Exes in Love, Sexual Fetishism, The Past Catching up with You
Directed By: James Foley
Written By: Niall Leonard, E.L. James
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Jamie Dornan
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

Fifty Shades Darker is the second film in the Fifty Shades franchise. The first film in the franchise earned more than it cost to make and advertise during its opening weekend. It was an even bigger hit internationally. Almost no one thinks this film will make more than the original did. In fact, there are some who think it will make less in total than the first film made during its opening weekend. However, even if this is the case, the film will still be very profitable.

John Wick: Chapter Two

John Wick: Chapter Two
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JohnWick.movie/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 10th, 2017
MPAA Rating:
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Hitmen, Rome, Italy, Organized Crime, Gang Warfare, Out of Retirement
Directed By: Chad Stahelski
Written By: Derek Kolstad
Starring: Keanu Reeves
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

John Wick was an amazing movie, but it struggled domestically and did even worse internationally. When I first heard rumors that they were making a sequel, I assumed it was just the studio trying to save face. This has happened in the past. A studio will float a rumor that a sequel was in the works so that people assume the first movie did better financially than it did. However, that’s not the case here. In fact, John Wick: Chapter Two and an additional sequel were filmed back-to-back, so Lionsgate is clearly invested in this franchise. Will it pay off? I suspect this film will do better at the box office than its predecessor did, but it will still have to wait till the home market before it breaks even.

The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LegoBatman.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 10th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and some action.
Source: Based on Toy
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: D.C. Comics, Vigilante, Adopted Family, Living Toys
Directed By: Chris McKay
Written By: Seth Grahame-Smith
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson
Production Budget: Estimated at $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

I wasn’t particularly bullish about The LEGO Movie’s chances. I thought it would be a hit, but not a $200 million hit. With The Lego Batman Movie, I do think it will be a $200 million hit, it even has a chance of topping the original. Granted, it is only a spin-off and the D.C.E.U. hasn’t exactly been selling the characters well, but Lego Batman was one of the best parts of the first film. The buzz is loud, which is strange for a family film, but this means its crossover appeal will be higher than most animated movies. In fact, I think this film could draw in a lot of young adults who don’t even have kids yet.

Weekend of February 17th, 2017

The Great Wall

The Great Wall is by far the most interesting release of this week. It is a Chinese action film starring a number of famous Chinese actors, plus Matt Damon, who was cast specifically to give the film more box office potential outside of China. If it works, we will be seeing a lot more movies like this. Fist Fight feels like counter-programming to The Great Wall’s blockbuster release, but if The Great Wall struggles to find an audience here, it will be there to pick up the pace. On the other hand, it looks like A Cure for Wellness will fall between the cracks. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, which earned less than $30 million combined. The Great Wall is looking to open with more than that by itself. On the other hand, Deadpool earned more than $56 million during its second week of release and that’s going to keep 2017 in the losing column for another week.

A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/A-Cure-For-Wellness
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 17th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Health Spa, Medical Crimes, Switzerland, Sex Crimes, Abusive Therapists
Directed By: Gore Verbinski
Written By: Justin Haythe, Justin Haythe, Gore Verbinski
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

An up-and-coming executive has to travel to a health spa to retrieve the company’s CEO. When he gets there’s he begins to suspect the spa isn’t what it seems. The trailer is all mysterious and ominous, but while watching it, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was just trying too hard. It’s mysterious, because the film doesn’t have what it takes to draw in audiences with its substance. It is also the smallest of the three films opening this weekend.

Fist Fight

Fist Fight
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FistFightMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 17th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Teachers, Fired, Revenge, High School, Bullies
Directed By: Richie Keen
Written By: Evan Susser, Van Robichaux
Starring: Ice Cube, Charlie Day
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Charlie Day plays a teacher who gets another teacher, Ice Cube, fired and as a result, that other teacher challenges him to a fight after school. That’s an interesting setup for ... fighting like this is a felony. Even saying, “I’m going to whip your ass after school.” is a felony. This is why adults generally don’t fight, because the legal consequences can destroy your life. Ignoring that, the film looks okay and will likely be a midlevel hit. There are some who think it will be the biggest release of the week, but I’m not that bullish.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheGreatWallMovie.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 17th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy action violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Ancient China, Monster, Song Dynasty, Escape, Visual Effects
Directed By: Zhang Yimou
Written By: Thomas Tull, Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Tony Gilroy
Starring: Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Jian Tain
Production Budget: Reported at $150 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

This film has made nearly $170 million in China, which is an amazing figure for that market. That’s like $300 million to $400 million here. It’s not going to make that much here. In fact, there are some who think it will make less here than it opened with in China. I’m not that pessimistic, but we’ve seen the film open in a few major European markets and the results were not great. If it does as well here as it did in Germany and and France, then the film will struggle to get to $50 million. However, Matt Damon is a bigger star here than he is in Europe and I think that will make a difference. There is a chance this film will be a surprise hit and earn more than $100 million. It’s a slim chance, but it is the biggest action film of the month and there’s not a lot of direct competition. Furthermore, there’s a chance it will be a big enough hit that the Asian stars of the movie, Jian Tain, Andy Lau, etc., will get more roles here. I’m hoping this is the case, because that will counteract the accusations of whitewashed casting. More diversity in media is a good thing.

Last minute update: The reviews continue to be mixed, which shouldn’t hurt the film’s box office potential to a substantial degree.

Weekend of February 24th, 2017

Get Out

The final weekend of the month is not busy at all with only one wide release and two films that are not expected to open truly wide. Collide is a British crime thriller being released by Open Road and this distributor doesn’t release many films that open truly wide. It should still open in the top ten, on the other hand, so we will be making a prediction. Rock Dog is supposed to open wide, but all signs point to select cities, at best. I don’t expect it to make the top ten and we will be skipping it here. This leaves Get Out as the only true wide release. The film is getting a lot of attention and not just because of its effective trailer. It is the directorial debut for Jordan Peele, who is best known for his comedy. The movie is a horror film. That’s a huge swing in tone, so it will be interesting to see if he can pull it off. I remain cautiously optimistic. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, which earned less than $30 million combined. On the other hand, Deadpool earned more than $31 million during its third weekend of release. That’s going to keep 2017 in the losing column for another week. ... Huh. Déjà vu.

Collide

Collide
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CollideFilm.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: February 24th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, frenetic action, some sexuality, language, and drug material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Heist, Fugitive / On the Run, Organized Crime, Narcotics, Smuggler, Medical and Hospitals, Development Hell, Delayed Release
Directed By: Eran Creevy
Written By: Eran Creevy, F. Scott Frazier
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones
Production Budget: Reported at $29 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

Nicholas Hoult plays a man who works as a getaway driver for an organized crime boss, but when the heist goes wrong, he has to go on the run. This film was shot in 2014 and was originally scheduled for a 2015 release. Then its old distributor, Relativity, went bankrupt. The film was picked up by Open Road, who don’t really have a good track record when it comes to opening films in wide release. I doubt it will open in the top five and it is very unlikely it will make much of an impact at the box office.

Get Out

Get Out poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: #fill in official website domain#
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 24th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Interracial Romance, African-American, Suburbs, Actors Making Their Directorial Debut, Missing Person
Directed By: Jordan Peele
Written By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Jordan Peele is best known for comedy, including writing and performing in MadTV, creating Key and Peele, and of course his cameo in the music video for “White and Nerdy”. The road from acting to directing can be a bumpy one, and it could be more difficult with such a change in genre. That said, I’ve seen a lot of positive buzz for this film, and it practically has the weekend to itself. I don’t expect it to be a major hit, but it I’m expecting it to be a solid midlevel hit.

Last minute update: The early reviews continue to be 100% positive. Granted, there are only 16 of them, but at this point it would be a shock if the film fell below 75% positive.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, A Cure for Wellness, The Lego Batman Movie, Collide, The Great Wall, Fifty Shades Darker, John Wick: Chapter Two, The Space Between Us, Fist Fight, Get Out, Rock Dog, Ring, Fifty Shades of Grey, John Wick, DC Extended Universe, Matt Damon, Keanu Reeves, Will Arnett, Asa Butterfield, Michael Cera, Peter Chelsom, Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Rosario Dawson, Dakota Fanning, James Foley, Zach Galifianakis, Tony Gilroy, Nicholas Hoult, Jason Isaacs, Andy Lau, Thomas Tull, Gore Verbinski, Zhang Yimou, Edward Zwick, Britt Robertson, Charlie Day, Allan Loeb, Akiva Goldsman, Felicity Jones, Aimee Teegarden, Richie Keen, David Loucka, Seth Grahame-Smith, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Kaluuya, Chad Stahelski, Jordan Peele, Jacob Aaron Estes, Eran Creevy, F. Scott Frazier, Justin Haythe, Max Brooks, E.L. James, Jamie Dornan, Mia Goth, Chris McKay, Javier Gutierrez, Derek Kolstad, Tinker Lindsay, Allison Williams, Jian Tian, Niall Leonard, Evan Susser, Van Robichaux, Matilda Lutz