February is looking to be at least slightly better than January, in terms of new movies, if only because we’re getting a number of sequels to previous hits. This weekend we get two non-sequels, one from a popular genre filmmaker, the other an odd true-story comedy based around the biggest sports event of the year. Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.
The biggest new release of the weekend is M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Knock at the Cabin,” based on Paul Tremblay’s book “The Cabin at the End of the World,” and starring Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge, who recently co-starred in “Spoiler Alert.” The premise revolves around a small family of three vacationing in a cabin when a group of armed strangers show up with a proposition that could prevent Armageddon.
Shyamalan has such an erratic career and relationship with movie fans, going back to 1999’s “The Sixth Sense,” which was a huge blockbuster hit that received six Oscar nominations and grossed almost $300 million just in North America (and the same amount overseas). His next movie, “Unbreakable,” didn’t fare nearly as well, though the filmmaker was able to revive that universe with 2017’s “Split” and 2019’s “Glass,” both which grossed more than “Unbreakable.” His next movie, “Signs,” starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, was another big hit, followed by “The Village,” which also made over $100 million. But then things started to go a bit sideways with movies like “The Lady in the Water” and “The Happening,” which had to be considered disappointments. In 2014, Shyamalan teamed with producer Jason Blum for the lower budget “The Visit,” which helped turn things around for him.
More recently, the filmmaker has been steeped in television with his Apple TV+ series, “Servant,” while 2021’s “Old” ended up making less than “The Visit” ($48.3 million) but that also could have been hindered by the pandemic. That also didn’t have any name stars on par with Bautista, best known from Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. More than anything, “Knock at the Cabin” is going to be a real test for Bautista’s popularity and star power, because this is the first time he’s been cast in a lead role for a wide studio release. (Reviews hit earlier today and are generally positive, particularly for Bautista’s performance.) It also seems like a pretty decent match of material with star, so you combine that with an intriguing premise, and “Knock” could end up making between $21 to 24 million this weekend, which is more than enough to take first place at the box office.
At any other time, I might snub my nose up to “80 for Brady” as a silly comedy meant only for older women. It actually has a lot going for it, particularly its cast which includes Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field and Rita Moreno, three Oscar winners and a nominee. Fonda and Tomlin obviously have been together for seven seasons of the Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie,” which has been nominated for 13 Primetime Emmys and six Screen Actors Guild awards with no wins. Even so, a show doesn’t get seven seasons on Netflix without being popular, and Field (who is not quite 80) and Moreno (who is well over 80) have maintained their own popularity over the past few years. (In 2017, the comedy “Going in Style,” teaming Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin opened with more than $11 million as a good comparison.)
Paramount is releasing the movie into roughly 3,800 theaters – more than “Knock at the Cabin” – because it knows there are a few potential audiences for “80 for Brady.” Besides the older women who might go to see this for the stars, there’s also all the football fans who have been fully ensconced into this year’s playoffs, and this is a wise release for the week before the Super Bowl. I fully expect Boston and the New England area to have some of the biggest business for “80 for Brady” and presumably, Atlanta won’t be as interested since the movie covers Super Bowl LI, in which the Falcons were bested by Brady’s Patriots. Expect this one to open with between $10 and 12 million for a strong second place.
Angel Studios made some decent money back in November when it released the first two episodes of the third season of its streaming drama “The Chosen” into 2,000 theaters. It grossed $8.8 million, enough to take third place, just behind “The Menu.” Now, they’re releasing the Season 3 finale of “The Chosen” into an unknown number of theaters, and that could make a play for the top five with $6 to 7 million.
On Friday, Crunchyroll releases another Anime feature with an insanely long title called “Sword Art Online the Movie – Progressive – Scherzo of Deep Night,” which is based on a popular series of manga comics and anime cartoons. As with Crunchyroll’s past releases, we don’t have a theater count as of this writing, but presumably, it will be in the 1,500+ range, although the movie seems to only be getting single screenings on Friday night. This will probably keep it out of the top five with around $3 million.
Trafalgar Releasing is giving the concert film “BTS: Yet to Come” a moderate release into theaters worldwide Wednesday, with special “Light Stick Screenings” on Saturday. (What could possibly go wrong?) The last BTS movie “Permission to Dance on Stage” was a special one-night only live viewing (ala last week’s “Billie Eilish at the 02”), and that $6.8 million in a single day in March last year. With a more conventional release, including some premium 4DX and Screen X showings, this could also end up making a play for the top five though it could potentially do a lot of business on Wednesday and Thursday but still be good for $3 to 4 million on the weekend.
Viva Kids is releasing the animated “The Amazing Maurice,” based on Terry Pratchett‘s children’s novel “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents,” into roughly 2,000 theaters as well. The movie has a solid British voice cast, including Hugh Laurie voicing Maurice, Emilia Clarke, David Tennant and more, and the market can certainly use more PG fare going by how well “Puss in Boots” has done without much competition. That said, it’s unclear how this movie about a “goofy streetwise cat” who comes up with a money-making scheme is being marketed to potential family audiences, so it’s dubious that it will even get into the top ten, probably making $2 million or less.
With so many new movies entering theaters, expect many returning movies from January to lose theaters and a few to get bumped out of the top ten altogether, although “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” should be safe in retaining their positions in the top five.
Check back on Sunday to see how everything above does.