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Weekend Predictions: New Releases are Very Forgettable

April 20th, 2017

Free Fire

Late April is one of the traditional dumping grounds and this week is truly living down to that reputation. There are five new releases that have at least a shot at the top ten, but none of them have a shot at becoming midlevel hits. Unforgettable is the widest new release of the week and will likely be the biggest hit, but it very likely won’t be the best. Free Fire and Born in China are in a close battle for the best reviews for the week. Meanwhile, The Promise and Phoenix Forgotten are just hoping to avoid opening below the Mendoza Line. I think earning a theater average above $2,000 is overly optimistic for either film. There’s a lot of competition, but nearly all of it is terrible, so The Fate of the Furious will have no trouble repeating in first place. Furthermore, both The Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast will likely remain in the top five, meaning there’s not a lot of room for the other films. This weekend last year, The Jungle Book earned just over $60 million over the weekend, while The Huntsman: Winter’s War opened with close to $20 million. There’s no way 2017 will be able to match this one-two punch.

The Fate of the Furious is the eighth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise. The films started out profitable, but didn’t really become monster hits until Fast Five came out. Even so, that does give us three previous installments we can look at and use to predict how well The Fate of the Furious will do during its sophomore stint. Fortunately, the results are consistent with declines of 60%, 62%, and 64%. The Fate of the Furious reviews are lower than the previous three installments, so it is likely the decline will be on the higher end. Look for just under $37 million over the weekend and over $160 million after just two-week of release.

The Boss Baby should remain in second place with just over $9 million over the weekend. The film is already a financial hit, so the studio should be very happy with this result.

Beauty and the Beast should be right behind with just under $9 million. The film should hit $460 million before the weekend and $470 million over the weekend keeping it on pace for $500 million domestically, assuming Disney gives it a small push at the end.

The biggest of the new releases is Unforgettable, a thriller starring Katherine Heigl. There was a time when it looked like Katherine Heigl would be a major star, but that was a long time ago. Now she has a reputation as box office poison. There’s only one review on Rotten Tomatoes and it is negative. This is bad sign, because it suggests a lack of buzz surrounding the film and / or a lack of faith in the film from the studio. On the other hand, it is the biggest new release of the week and if you’ve seen all of the holdovers, then maybe you will want to give this one a try. That’s called damning it with faint praise. I’m predicting an opening weekend of just over $8 million. If it overperforms by just a little bit, it could grab second place.

Born in China is the latest documentary from Disney Nature. The last two such films failed to earn more than $5 million during their opening weekends, but I think this film will reverse that trend. Not only is it earning the best reviews of the week, but pandas are inexplicable popular. That said, it is only playing in 1,508 theaters, so $6 million is likely as good as it will get.

We still have three more wide or semi-wide releases to deal with. The Promise is the only one of these three playing in more than 2,000 theaters. Its reviews are mixed, but at least its has more than a handful of reviews, which is better than two other new releases on this week’s list. Unfortunately, the buzz here is really quiet. There are some who think it has a real shot at fifth place with $6 million, but I’m going with between $4 million and $5 million. The film reportedly cost approximately $100 million to make, so this is a complete disaster.

Up next is Free Fire. This film is only playing in 1,070 theaters, which is a shame, because it is earning some of the best reviews of the week. The distributor, A24, has had some success with films opening semi-wide, so this isn’t a death sentence as it otherwise would be. Then again, I would be surprised if the film competed for a spot in the top five. It might not even make it to the top ten. Look for an opening between $3 million and $4 million, which should be just enough to earn a spot in the top ten, with a better run on the home market.

Finally there’s Phoenix Forgotten, a found-footage horror film supposedly based on real life events. The film is playing in over 1,500 theaters, but has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Furthermore, its buzz is quieter than some of the limited releases that have come out this month. There’s almost no chance it will earn a spot in the top ten; in fact, it could open with a theater average of under $1,000. I’m going with an opening of $2 million.

- Unforgettable Comparisons
- Born in China Comparisons
- The Promise Comparisons
- Free Fire Comparisons
- Phoenix Forgotten Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Boss Baby, Unforgettable, Free Fire, Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, The Promise, Born in China, Phoenix Forgotten, Fast and the Furious, Katherine Heigl
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