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Weekend Predictions: Will Any of the New Releases have a Christmas Miracle?

December 21st, 2016


This week is an utter mess when it comes to new releases. There are five films opening or expanding wide this week, three of them opening on Wednesday. Assassin’s Creed, Passengers, and Sing are all trying to get a head start on the weekend, while Why Him? debuts on Friday. Finally, Fences is expected to expand wide on Sunday, Christmas Day, but we’ve seen recently that “wide expansion” isn’t a meaningful term when studios use it. None of these films are expected to top Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or even come close. Comparing this weekend to the same weekend last year is nearly impossible, because Christmas Eve lands on Saturday this year and Christmas Eve is a dead zone at the box office, while last year it landed on the Thursday, which is the best day of the week for optimal box office numbers. On the other hand, Monday is Boxing Day, which is a holiday for some. It doesn’t balance out, but fortunately 2016 still has a substantial lead over 2015, so even a really bad weekend won’t put 2016 behind.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will continue to top the box office chart this weekend, but it is going to take a beating. It does have better reviews than any film opening before Christmas Day, but we are dealing with a Fanboy Franchise and those tend to be front-loaded. Also, I can’t emphasize this enough, Christmas Eve is on Saturday. The last time this happened, the average film in the top ten fell about 40% from the day before. Look for a three-day weekend of about $75 million. This is a bigger decline than The Force Awakens suffered, but next weekend Rogue One should actually see growth and that will make up a lot of the difference.

Sing is the only new release of the week to earn overall positive reviews and at 68% positive, it has fallen enough that it might not stay there by the end of the weekend. On the other hand, it is the only family film to open wide all month and it pulled in $1.7 million in previews last night, the best of the three wide releases, so there’s clearly major demand for the film. That said, it still has to deal with Christmas Eve landing on a Saturday, which will take about $10 million out of its weekend haul. That will still leave it with just over $50 million over the next five days, about $33 million of which should be over the three-day weekend.

At the beginning of the month, I thought Passengers would have the biggest opening this weekend, but Sing would have longer legs. Then I saw the reviews. The film looks amazing and the two leads have great chemistry together, but the script just doesn’t work. You can already tell the film’s reviews are hurting, as it only managed $1.2 million during previews. That said, it is still the biggest release of the week in terms of production budget and buzz and it should start well, even if it doesn’t have great legs. Look for an opening weekend of $25 million, including Wednesday and Thursday.

Up next is Assassin’s Creed, or as it is likely known at Fox, “At least we have Deadpool.” It hasn’t been a good year for the studio and it is unlikely to end on a positive note, as this film is earning abysmal reviews. On the other hand, it actually beat Passengers on Tuesday earning $1.3 million during its previews. I think its legs will be even shorter, as it is a video game adaptation and that comes with some Fanboys who will be interested in seeing it right away. I’m looking at just under $20 million over the five-day weekend and the shortest legs of the wide releases this week.

The only other holdover in the top five will be Moana with just over $10 million during the three-day weekend. It will take a hit from the direct competition, while it is losing a lot of theaters on Wednesday and Friday. That said, it is a family film, so it should hold up better than most over the weekend, while it will bounce back next weekend.

This leaves us with Why Him?, which is opening on Friday. Its reviews are 35% positive, which is weak enough that it will likely hurt its box office chances. On the other hand, it is the only film opening wide on Friday, so some moviegoers will have seen the other new releases already and won’t have much else to try on Friday. It is also the only comedy opening this week. That said, the buzz is relatively quiet and it likely won’t crack $10 million over the weekend, although it should come close.

Finally there’s Fences, which is “expanding wide” on Sunday. The exact theater count is still To Be Announced, so that’s not helpful in determining its box office chances. Assuming it does expand truly wide, then it has a shot at sixth place tying Why Him? with just under $10 million. It if expands to just a few hundred theaters, then it will likely open further down the chart with $5 million. Splitting the difference gives us a $7.5 million weekend haul.

- Sing Comparisons
- Passengers Comparisons
- Assassin’s Creed Comparisons
- Why Him? Comparisons
- Fences Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, Passengers, Assassin’s Creed, Moana, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sing, Why Him?, Fences, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt