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Weekend Estimates: Blade Runner Stumbles Out the Gate

October 8th, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

After It smashed the September weekend record a month ago, further proving that films can open huge at any time of the year, prospects looked great for the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner. Its trailers had created positive buzz, the early reviews were very favorable, and there was little by way of competition. The bar it needed to cross to break the record, Gravity’s $55.8 million wasn’t even all that high. But something went wrong on the way to the multiplex.

Warner Bros. is projecting a $31.5 million opening weekend for Blade Runner 2049, and that may prove to be optimistic, although it should at least top $30 million. That won’t be enough to put it in the top 20 weekends for the month, in spite of enjoying the widest opening in terms of theaters for this time of year.

Pinning down exactly what went wrong is always an act of speculation, but clearly enthusiasm for the film was lacking among younger filmgoers, and turnout from older generations (by which we mean over-25s) wasn’t enough to make up for it. Bear in mind that anyone already born when the first movie came out is at least 35 now, and anyone old enough to see the original film when it came out in theaters is now 53 or older. Even though many people (your correspondent included) didn’t see the original until it was on DVD, this is a film that probably needed to be made 10 years ago. Compounding the problem is its portrayal of a dystopian future at a time when it can feel like we’re already living in one.

One arguable bright spot is that 2049 beat Blade Runner’s opening weekend when adjusted for inflation, and that film went on to earn around $91 million in today’s money. But Blade Runner opened in just 1,295 theaters, and the theatrical market bore little resemblance to 2017. One telling metric: Blade Runner’s opening weekend theater average was $14,500 in 2017 dollars, while Blade Runner 2049’s will be about half that. Unless the film shows remarkable legs (and, to be fair, it is getting great ratings from audiences), it’ll fall far short of profitability.

Two other new releases are doing modest business this weekend. The Mountain Between Us has star power galore in the form of Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, but could only muster $10.1 million for the weekend. My Little Pony will trot to $8.8 million on debut.

Victoria and Abdul is doing somewhat brighter business, with $4.1 million or so expected as it expands into 732 theaters. It’s outpacing Battle of the Sexes, which will pick up another $2.4 million from 1,822 locations. Both films should top $10 million at the box office, and haven’t done their awards season chances any harm.

One other bright note, and another film we could see mentioned much more as awards season picks up, is The Florida Project, which opens this weekend with around $150,000 from just four theaters. A24 has pretty much perfected the art of getting these splashy debut numbers, and they don’t always turn into long runs for the films in question, but this is clearly one to watch over the next few weeks.

- Weekend estimates

- Blade Runner 2049 Comparisons
- The Mountain Between Us Comparisons
- My Little Pony: The Movie Comparisons
- It Comparisons
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle Comparisons
- American Made Comparisons
- The Lego Ninjago Movie Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Box Office, The Mountain Between Us, Blade Runner 2049, Battle of the Sexes, My Little Pony: The Movie, It, Victoria and Abdul, The Florida Project, Kate Winslet, Idris Elba