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2018 Preview: January

January 1st, 2018

Paddington 2

2017 wasn’t a good year. It started out well and ended on a high note, but the summer was a disaster and that proved to be too much for the rest of the year to overcome. Fortunately, The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle are still doing very well and will help January get off to a fast start. Unfortunately, the biggest new release of January is Paddington 2 and it isn’t expected to match its predecessor at the box office; it certainly won’t top $100 million domestically. It is unlikely any of the Oscar contenders will hit the century mark in January either. This is really bad news, as last January, we had a new release, Split and an Oscar contender, Hidden Figures, which both topped that milestone with ease. 2018 should get off to a faster start in the first two weeks, but overall, this month will end with a loss.

Weekend of January 5th, 2018

Insidious: The Last Key

There is only one wide release the first weekend of January. Worse still, it is the fourth installment in a franchise that has already run out of steam. Molly’s Game is also scheduled to expand this weekend, but it appears to be expanding nationwide and not truly wide. This weekend last year, Underworld: Blood Wars was the only wide release, but Hidden Figures expanded earning first place. I suspect The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle should be in a close race for the top and they could both earn more than last year’s number one film. 2018 should start out with a win, but I don’t think it will be a truly convincing win.

Insidious: The Last Key

Insidious: The Last Key
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: InsidiousMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: January 5th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Supernatural, Hauntings, Haunted House, Screenplay Written By the Star, Prequel, Inbetwequel
Directed By: Adam Robitel
Written By: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Lin Shaye
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $5 million to $15 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

The first two installments in the Insidious franchise were monster hits, when compared to their production budgets. The third one saw its budget grow to $10 million, but its worldwide box office fell significantly. It was still very profitable, so I’m not surprised Insidious: The Last Key was made. On the other hand, I will be surprised if they make a fifth film in the franchise. This film has almost no buzz and there’s not enough time for that to change dramatically. Maybe if its reviews are great, it will thrive. However, if it is a great movie, why is Universal releasing it this weekend?

Weekend of January 12th, 2018

Paddington 2

The second weekend in January is MLK long weekend and it is the busiest weekend of the month with four wide releases / wide expansions hoping to take advantage of the long weekend. Paddington 2 will likely be the biggest new release of the month, but The Post could earn more in total, if it can win some Oscars. The Commuter could be a fun thriller, but it looks way too familiar to be a major hit. Finally there’s Proud Mary, which I fear might be like Free Fire. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases and two wide expansions. None of them were particularly good and all of them struggled at the box office. The biggest competition will be Hidden Figures, which fell less than 9% repeating on top of the chart. If both Paddington 2 and The Post can come close to $20 million, then 2018 should be able to win in the year-over-year comparison. Again, it will likely be close either way. On a side note, there are some sources that have Condorito opening wide, but it is very likely opening “nationwide” and not truly wide.

The Commuter

The Commuter
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheCommuter.Movie
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: January 12th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense action/violence, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Organized Crime, Trains, Trapped
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written By: Byron Willinger, Phil de Blasi
Starring: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A thriller directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, starring Liam Neeson, being released early in the year. There have been three previous films like this. Add in the other Liam Neeson thrillers that came out in January and this is practically a subgenre of its own. I think audiences are tired of this movie and the lack of buzz backs this up. There are two bigger movies coming out this week, which will further hurt its box office chances.

Paddington 2

Paddington 2
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Paddington.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: January 12th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG for some action and mild rude humor.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Wrongfully Convicted, Falsely Accused, Prison, Treasure Hunters, Prison Break, Coma
Directed By: Paul King
Written By: Paul King, Simon Farnaby, Michael Bond
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $50 million to $70 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

The original Paddington earned 98% positive reviews and earned over $250 million worldwide. Paddington 2 is earning even better reviews, but it isn’t doing quite as well at the box office. It has nearly $100 million internationally, so it isn’t bombing, but it won’t match the original either. If it has a similar decline here, then it will make about $65 million. This is a solid midlevel hit and much better than any other January release will make this year.

The Post

The Post
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/The-Post
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: January 12th, 2018 (Expands Wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and brief war violence.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Newspaper Industry, Political, Government Corruption, Cover Up, Vietnam War, News, Investigative Journalist
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Elizabeth Hannah, Josh Singer
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

This movie is Oscar-bait. That’s not an insult, it is just a statement of fact. It is directed by an Oscar-winning director, it stars two multi-Oscar-winning lead actors, and it is based on real life events. Fortunately, the film’s reviews are right on the cusp of Award-worthy, it earned six Golden Globes nominations, and it had an impressive debut. However, going from limited release to wide release is never an easy task and so far, only three limited releases of 2017 have managed to top $25 million. If The Post continues to earn lots of nominations, then it will top that with ease. However, it will need to do a lot more than earn nominations to become the biggest limited release hit of 2017; it will need to convert those nominations into wins. It is too soon to tell if it will be able to do that.

Proud Mary

Proud Mary
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ProudMary-Movie.com/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: January 12th, 2018
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Assassination, Hitmen, Woman in a Male Dominated Profession, Boston, Hitman Killing an Innocent Bystander
Directed By: Babak Najafi
Written By: John Stuart, Christian Swegal, Steven Antin, John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal
Starring: Taraji P. Henson
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Taraji P. Henson stars as the titular Proud Mary, a hitman who works for a Boston crime family. She has to deal with the consequences when a hit goes wrong and she orphans a young boy.

I fear this will be the next Free Fire, a stylish action film set in the crime world in Boston. I don’t think Proud Mary will bomb as hard as Free Fire did, after all, it is being released by a major studio, unlike Free Fire. It is the smallest of the four films opening wide this week and that’s going to hurt it at the box office.

Weekend of January 19th, 2018

12 Strong

The weekend after a holiday is never a great week to release a movie, so it is unlikely that any of the three films here will be hits. 12 Strong is going for the same target audience as Acts of Valor or Lone Survivor, but the buzz just isn’t there. Den of Thieves is the latest from STX Entertainment and they struggle to have midlevel hits. Finally there’s Forever My Girl, which I’m not 100% sure is opening truly wide. This weekend last year, Split opened with just over $40 million and the mini-winning streak 2018 had will end swiftly and painfully.

12 Strong

12 Strong
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: https://12StrongMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: January 19th, 2018
MPAA Rating: R for war violence and language throughout.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: 9/11, C.I.A., Taliban, Afghanistan, Afghanistan War, Special Ops
Directed By: Nicolai Fuglsig
Written By: Peter Craig, Ted Tally, Doug Stanton
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

An action film about special forces sent into Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. It stars Chris Hemsworth, who hasn’t had a lot of box office success outside of playing Thor in the MCU and I really don’t think this film will change that track record. It will likely be the biggest hit of the three films opening wide this week, but I’m not 100% convinced it will open in first place. That’s how weak this week is.

Den of Thieves

Den of Thieves
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DenOfThieves.Movie/
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Release Date: January 19th, 2018
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Action
Keywords: Los Angeles, Heist, Bank Robbery, Cops and Robbers, Crime Thriller, Corrupt Cops
Directed By: Christian Gudegast
Written By: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Gerard Butler leads a group of cops going after a group of bank robbers, led by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. This is the first film released by STX Entertainment in 2018. 2017 was their best year ever, but they still only managed a little more than $200 million in total and only one film earned significantly more than $40 million domestically. If this film merely matches my prediction, it will be the seventh biggest hit is the studio’s history. It could be in their top five with just over $35 million.

Forever My Girl

Forever My Girl
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ForeverMyGirlTheMovie.com/
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: January 19th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements including drinking, and language.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Country and Western Music, Musicians, Left at the Altar, Life in a Small Town, Relationships Gone Wrong, Exes in Love
Directed By: Bethany Ashton Wolf
Written By: Bethany Ashton Wolf, Heidi McLaughlin
Starring: Alex Roe, Jessica Rothe
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

A country singer leaves his fiancée at the altar in order to go off and pursue a music career. Seven years later, he returns home because of a funeral and reunites with his ex-fiancée and her seven-year old daughter. This film is a smaller movie that doesn’t need to earn $50 million to be considered a hit. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the buzz is so quiet that even lower expectations won’t be able to save it. In fact, the buzz is so quiet that I’m not convinced it will open truly wide.

Weekend of January 26th, 2018

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

There’s only one wide release this week, Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Nearly everyone expects the film to be the weakest in the franchise. People are split on whether or not it will recover from the previous film’s decline, or if it will collapse completely. This weekend last year, A Dog’s Purpose was the biggest new release, while Split showed incredible legs and remained in first place. There were also five films that earned more than $10 million over the weekend. I think that’s simply asking too much and 2018 will lose in the year-over-year comparison by a significant margin for the second weekend in a row.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Maze-Runner-the-Death-Cure
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: January 26th, 2018
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Post Apocalypse, Zombies, Dystopia, Young Adult Book Adaptation, Development Hell
Directed By: James Dashner
Written By: T.S. Nowlin, James Dashner
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

The age of Young Adult adaptations appears to be over. These films were at one time among the hottest properties in Hollywood. However, by trying to jump a trend, studios just flooded the market and killed a promising subgenre. This particular franchise fell 20% from the first installment to the second. There are some who think the box office will fall even faster this time, while there are a few that think it will recover and dip less than 10%. I’m going right in the middle at 20%, but the buzz suggests the higher end might be more likely. The month could end on a positive note, at least relative to my expectations.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, The Commuter, Molly’s Game, Insidious: The Last Key, Proud Mary, The Post, Den of Thieves, 12 Strong, Forever My Girl, Paddington 2, Condorito: La Pelicula, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Insidious, The Maze Runner, Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Hugh Bonneville, Gerard Butler, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Chris Hemsworth, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Peña, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Pablo Schreiber, Kaya Scodelario, Michael Shannon, Lin Shaye, Steven Spielberg, Leigh Whannell, Ben Whishaw, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Peter Craig, Steven Antin, Jaume Collet-Serra, Simon Farnaby, Adam Robitel, Dylan O’Brien, Josh Singer, Paul King, Christian Swegal, Ted Tally, Babak Najafi, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Christian Gudegast, Alex Roe, T.S. Nowlin, James Dashner, Michael Bond, Jessica Rothe, Abby Ryder Fortson, Byron Willinger, Phil de Blasi, Elizabeth Hannah, Paul Scheuring, John Stuart, Trevante Rhodes, Nicolai Fuglsig, Bethany Ashton Wolf, Doug Stanton, Heidi McLaughlin, John Stuart Newman
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