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2018 Preview: February

February 1st, 2018

Black Panther

2018 got off to a good start and January more or less held its ground when compared to 2017. There were some misses, but surprise holdovers made up the difference. Looking forward, February will be dominated by Black Panther. In fact, it will very likely make more during its opening weekend than the second place film, Fifty Shades Freed, will likely make in total. Black Panther likely won’t break records, but it could come close, while Fifty Shade Freed and Peter Rabbit both have a 50/50 shot at $100 million. Last February, The Lego Batman Movie both earned $175 million, while Fifty Shades Darker earned over $100 million. Black Panther will easily beat any film from last February; in fact, it could earn more than the top two films earned combined. As long as the rest of the box office isn’t a complete disaster, February should help 2018 earn a significant edge over 2017 in the year-over-year comparisons.

Weekend of February 2nd, 2018

Winchester

While the month of February looks good, it does start on a slow note. It is Super Bowl weekend, so a lot of regular moviegoers will be distracted and most studios don’t want to release something that shares a large segment of its target audience with the Super Bowl. This means Winchester will have the weekend to itself. The buzz is really quiet and it could struggle to become a midlevel hit. This weekend last year, Rings struggled and The Space Between Us bombed; however, the overall depth was still good. I think it was too good for 2018 to win in the year-over-year comparison. It should be close, on the other hand.

Winchester

Winchester
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WinchesterMovie.com
Distributor: CBS Films
Release Date: February 2nd, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, drug content, some sexual material and thematic elements.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Supernatural, 1800s, Haunted House, Widow/Widower, California, San Francisco, Death of a Spouse or Fiancée / Fiancé, Death of a Son or Daughter
Directed By: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Written By: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Tom Vaughan
Starring: Helen Mirren
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Helen Mirren stars as Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester fortune. She’s convinced she is haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles, so she constructs a massive mansion to hold the ghosts. This film’s buzz is really quiet and I fear it will struggle at the box office as a result. That said, it likely didn’t cost a lot to make, so if it can earn more than $10 million during its opening weekend, then it will probably break even sometime during its home market run.

Last Minute Update: It is Thursday morning and there are still no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. This is troubling, to say the least. I’m dropping its box office potential from $35 million to $30 million and I might have to drop it further once reviews start showing up.

Weekend of February 9th, 2018

Fifty Shades Freed

This year, Valentine’s Day lands on a Wednesday, so this weekend is technically the Valentine’s Day weekend. There are three, maybe four films hoping to take advantage of Valentine’s day, the biggest of which is Fifty Shades Freed. That film and Peter Rabbit both have a shot at $100 million domestically. Meanwhile, The 15:17 to Paris is playing as counter-programming, but it was directed by Clint Eastwood, so you can’t dismiss its chances. Also opening this weekend is La Boda Valentina, but it appears to be opening in several hundred theaters and not truly wide. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, The Lego Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker, and John Wick: Chapter Two. They earned a combined $130 million during the weekend. That could be more than the top ten will earn this year. 2018 will take a beating this weekend, but to be fair, there is a misalignment in the Presidents Day holiday, so next weekend will be a lot better.

The 15:17 to Paris

The 15:17 to Paris
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 1517ToParis.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 9th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for bloody images, violence, some suggestive material, drug references and language.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Non-Chronological, 2010s, Ex-soldier, Terrorism, Trains, Nightclub, Non Professional Actor, Autobiographical
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Dorothy Blyskal, Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos
Starring: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $50 million to $70 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

The 15:17 to Paris is based on the 2015 terror attack in France and it is the fifth film in a row Clint Eastwood has directed that is based on real life events. Unfortunately, it is the smallest of the three releases coming out this week and that’s never a good thing. Granted, John Wick: Chapter Two was in this position last year and it opened with $30 million; however, that is the exception, not the norm. I don’t think the movie will bomb, but I also don’t think it will be a major hit either.

Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FiftyShadesMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: February 9th, 2018
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Revenge, Fired
Directed By: James Foley
Written By: Niall Leonard, E.L. James
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $50 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

This is the final film in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. The movies have never won over critics, but the first two films have earned a combined $950 million worldwide, so no one should be shocked if it has the best opening of the weekend and it has a strong shot at topping $100 million in total. Even if it has the worst box office run of the franchise, it should still earn a sizable profit for Universal.

Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PeterRabbit-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: February 9th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, Love Triangle
Directed By: Will Gluck
Written By: Will Gluck, Rob Lieber, Beatrix Potter
Starring: James Corden
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

A family film with live action actors and CG animals based in part on Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit stories. On the one hand, this seems like a smart movie to make. On the other hand, I was not impressed by the trailer. Back to the original hand, I’m not in the target audience and there’s no other family film in theaters at the moment, so it should still do well at the box office. I think it has a nearly 50/50 shot at $100 million domestically, but I think it will fall just short. I do think it will make enough money to keep the studio happy.

Weekend of February 16th, 2018

Black Panther

This is the weekend Black Panther comes out. Nothing else matters. Its buzz is louder than all the films opening this month, combined. To be fair, Early Man’s reviews are good, but Stop-Motion Animated films are almost never hits. Finally there’s Samson, a Bible Epic from Pure Flix Entertainment. Pure Flix has been around for nearly four years now and they’ve had only one significant box office hit. This film won’t be their second. This weekend last year was the weekend after Presidents Day, so it goes without saying it wasn’t a good weekend at the box office for new releases. Black Panther will make more during its opening day than the three wide releases made combined over the full weekend. It will make more than the combined top ten made last weekend. 2018 will dominate the year-over-year comparisons. If 2018 has a lead in ticket sales at this point, it will be a reason to truly celebrate.

Black Panther

Black Panther
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Marvel.com/BlackPanther
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: February 16th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.
Source: Based on Comic/Graphic Novel
Genre: Action
Keywords: Martial Arts, Marvel Comics, Royalty, Magical Technology, World War III, Civil War, Rebellion, Ensemble, Africa, Fictional Country
Directed By: Ryan Coogler
Written By: Joe Robert Cole, Ryan Coogler, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimate at $160 million to $180 million
Box Office Potential: $325 million

The latest entry in the MCU is the first of three MCU films to come out this year. It is also the first super hero film with a Black lead since the Blade trilogy ended in 2004. I don’t think it is a coincidence that it is also one of the most hotly anticipated films of 2018. Afrofuturism is not a style we get to see in big budget movies and a lot of people are excited to see it on the big screen. In fact, some believe it will become the biggest introductory film in the MCU, topping Guardians of the Galaxy with about $350 million. There’s reason to be optimistic; not only is the buzz really loud, but the early social media reports are nearly 100% positive. That said, while I do think that’s a realistic prediction, I’m deciding to be a little more cautious. I don’t want to get swept up in the hype.

On a side note, the next film to have as much buzz as Black Panther is Avengers: Infinity War. Meanwhile, the trailer for Ant Man and the Wasp just dropped and the reactions are nearly universally positive. It’s going to be a good year for the MCU.

Last Minute Update: There are still no official reviews published, as the embargo doesn’t lift until February 6th. However, there is already a movement online to review bomb the film giving it negative user reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. At first, I thought this was just some White Nationalists freaking out over a film with a predominately Black cast. Then I saw, “#DCoverMarvel” on some of the memes promoting this inanity. It must be rough being a fan of the DCEU and being associated with the more... committed members of that fanbase.

Early Man

Early Man
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: EarlyManMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 16th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and some action.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Hunting, Cavemen, Soccer, Culture Clash, Cross-Culture Romance, Talking Animals, Dinosaurs, Prehistoric Times, Sword and Sandal
Directed By: Nick Park
Written By: Nick Park, Mark Burton, Mark Burton, James Higginson
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams, Tom Hiddleston, Timothy Spall
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

I love Stop-Motion Animation in general and Aardman Animations in particular, but lets face facts, they haven’t had a box office hit here in over a decade. I do think this film will perform better than Shaun the Sheep, but it won’t sell as many tickets as The Pirates! Band of Misfits did. It should break even based on its international numbers, on the other hand. The film already opened in its native U.K. and based on that result, it does have a shot at $100 million internationally. It should earn at least $100 million worldwide.

Samson

Samson
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SamsonMovie.PureFlix.com/
Distributor: Pure Flix Entertainment
Release Date: February 16th, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and battle sequences.
Source: Based on Religious Text
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Religious, Bible Epic, Sword and Sandal, Romance, Relationships Gone Wrong, Cross-Culture Romance
Directed By: Bruce Macdonald
Written By: Zachary Warren Smith, Jason Baumgardner, Galen Gilbert, Timothy Ratajczak, Jason Baumgardner, Zachary Warren Smith
Starring: Caitlin Leahy, Taylor James
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

A Bible Epic from Pure Flix Entertainment. Bible Epics used to be a reliable box office draw, but that was a long, long time ago. Furthermore, the biggest Pure Flix hit outside the God’s Not Dead franchise earned less than $15 million. This film only has a 50/50 chance to beat that mark. On the positive side, it likely didn’t cost a lot to make.

Weekend of February 23rd, 2018

Game Night

The final weekend of the month is a post-holiday weekend and Black Panther will likely still dominate the box office. This means the three wide releases will likely be battling for a distant second place, at best. Game Night is arguably the most anticipated film of the weekend, but that’s more to do with what the two directors are doing next. Annihilation is the film I’m most interested in seeing, but I’m not overly bullish about its box office chances. Finally, there’s Every Day, a Young Adult adaptation. This particular genre is off its peak, so most assume this won’t be a major hit. This weekend last year, Get Out debuted with $33.38 million. None of the new releases will match that this year, but Black Panther will lead 2018 to victory in the year-over-year comparison.

Annihilation

Annihilation
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ForThoseThatFollow.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: February 23rd, 2018
MPAA Rating: R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Unnamed Character, Environment, Scientific Expedition
Directed By: Alex Garland
Written By: Alex Garland, Jeff VanderMeer
Starring: Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Production Budget: Reported at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

A group of soldiers go into an environmental disaster zone and only one comes out, and he’s very sick. His wife, a biologist, leads a group of scientists into the zone under the assumption that the key to the cure can be found there. I love the cast, I love the setup, the film looks awesome, but I fear it is a little too out there for mainstream success. I don’t think it will bomb, but I do think it will have to wait till late in its home market run to break even.

Every Day

Every Day
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/EveryDayTheMovie/
Distributor: Orion Pictures
Release Date: February 23rd, 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic content, language, teen drinking, and suggestive material.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Body Swap, Same Role, Multiple Actors, Young Adult Book Adaptation
Directed By: Michael Sucsy
Written By: Jesse Andrews, David Levithan
Starring: Angourie Rice
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Angourie Rice plays a shy high school student who meets a person. This person wakes up in a different body every single day and lives that person’s life for one day. However, when they first meet, they fall in love and want to keep this relationship going, despite this enormous difficulty. This is the smallest of the three films opening this weekend and Young Adult adaptations are no longer hot properties at the box office. That said, it likely didn’t cost a lot to make, so it won’t need to be a midlevel hit to break even eventually.

Game Night

Game Night
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: GameNight-TheMovie.net
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: February 23rd, 2018
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual references and some violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Murder Mystery, Amatuer Slueth, Ensemble, Kidnap, Rescue
Directed By: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Written By: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, Mark Perez, Dana Fox
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

This film is written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Their next film is The Flash: Flashpoint, which is rumored to completely reboot the DCEU with only Wonder Woman remaining largely intact. Because of this, there is a lot of buzz surrounding this film. However, this buzz is almost entirely about Flashpoint and not this movie itself and this makes it really hard to judge this film’s box office chances. I don’t think it will be a major hit, but I think it will do well enough to earn a profit relatively early in its home market run.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Black Panther, Fifty Shades Freed, Early Man, Annihilation, Peter Rabbit, Winchester, Game Night, Samson, The 15:17 to Paris, Every Day, La Boda de Valentina, Blade, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fifty Shades of Grey, God's Not Dead, DC Extended Universe, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler, James Corden, John Francis Daley, Clint Eastwood, James Foley, Martin Freeman, Tom Hiddleston, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Stan Lee, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Nick Park, Natalie Portman, Eddie Redmayne, Andy Serkis, Timothy Spall, Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Tom Vaughan, Billy Magnussen, Will Gluck, Alex Garland, Tessa Thompson, Dana Fox, Jack Kirby, Mark Burton, Dakota Johnson, Gina Rodriguez, Jonathan Goldstein, Daniel Kaluuya, Michael Sucsy, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman, Sharon Horgan, Lupita Nyong'o, E.L. James, Ryan Coogler, Jamie Dornan, Angourie Rice, Letitia Wright, Maisie Williams, Bruce Macdonald, Rob Lieber, Mark Perez, Timothy Ratajczak, Jesse Andrews, Niall Leonard, Jeff VanderMeer, Joe Robert Cole, Beatrix Potter, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Dorothy Blyskal, David Levithan, James Higginson, Caitlin Leahy, Zachary Warren Smith, Jason Baumgardner, Galen Gilbert, Taylor James, Jeffrey E. Stern
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