February 10 will be the first true “blockbuster weekend” of 2017, with not one but two films that could potentially debut to$40 million or more. Universal darkens things up with their romance sequel Fifty Shades Darker. Warner Bros. might be featuring the Dark Knight but in a much less dark tone, with the animated The LEGO Batman Movie. And Lionsgate takes the action route with their sequel John Wick: Chapter Two.
Fifty Shades Darker (Universal)
- 2015’s sex-heavy Fifty Shades of Grey became one of the highest-grossing romances of all time with an $85.1 million opening and $166.1 million total. At the time, that was the second-highest February opening ever behind only The Passion of the Christ (and now ranking third after February 2016’s Deadpool). Universal is aiming to recreate that magic releasing time with Darker, again coming out the weekend before Valentine’s Day.
- Buzz online has and trailer views have been high, if just a little bit lower than the pre-release buzz for Grey, led by a committed passionate fan base. Unquestionably the biggest romance book/film series before Fifty Shades was Twilight, and don’t forget that it was the second installment New Moon which truly turned it into a box office powerhouse. 2008’s Twilight earned $192.7 million, not a bad sum at all, but 2009’s New Moon took it up a notch with $296.6 million. Installments 3, 4, and 5 all earned $280-$300 million too. Could something similar happen here?
- The original film was coming right on the heels of the hugely popular book trilogy by E.L. James, all three of which were some of the highest selling books in years but especially the first installment. Now that two years have passed, the books are still big but perhaps not quite the cultural phenomenon of the moment as they were from 2013-15.
- There are usually very few romance sequels, even to the highest grossing films. With very few exceptions, the genre simply isn’t known for being lucrative past one film.
The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros.)
- Similar to the aforementioned Fifty Shades Darker attempting to recapture the huge box office of the previous February-released film in the series, the same thing here. February 2014’s The LEGO Movie started with $69.0 million en route to $257.7 million total. (Although the comparison may be apples to oranges given how different the two films are, that’s a lower opening than Grey but a notably higher cumulative.) The original LEGO Movie featured Batman, albeit in a supporting role near the end.
- The last wide release animated film before this will have been Sing in late December, which will likely be almost out of theaters by mid-February. And the next animated film will be Rock Dog two weeks later, for which box office projections aren’t strong. So when it comes to the animated/family audience, Batman will have the market almost entirely to itself.
- Will this perform as well as The LEGO Movie? Maybe not. One could see the “real” Batman the year before in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and again later in 2017 with November’s Justice League. Will audiences want to see such a cartoonish Batman when such a bigger-budget live action option is available both so sooner before and after?
John Wick: Chapter Two (Lionsgate/Summit)
- October 2014’s action film John Wick was not considered a big financial success at the time, opening in second place with $14.4 million and ending up with $43.0 million. But it’s achieved something of a cult classic status since then, and Lionsgate thought there was enough of an audience to greenlight a sequel.
- Sequels to films which did okay but not amazingly at the box office — yet retained a passionate fan base — haven’t always done well at the box office recently. See the $28.8 million of Zoolander 2. Plus Keanu Reeves has arguably only had one real box office hit in the past decade, with 2008’s The Day the Earth Stood Still $79.3 million — and even that wasn’t as much of a smash as it could have been.
Check out the official Boxoffice Pro long range forecast in the table below.
|Title||Wide Release Date||Distributor||Opening Weekend||Cumulative|
|Fifty Shades Darker||Fri, Feb 10||Universal||$41,000,000||$83,000,000|
|John Wick: Chapter Two||Fri, Feb 10||Lionsgate/Summit||$20,000,000||$45,000,000|
|The LEGO Batman Movie||Fri, Feb 10||Warner Bros.||$56,000,000||$210,000,000|
|Rings||Fri, Feb 3||Paramount||$19,000,000||$45,000,000|
|The Space Between Us||Fri, Feb 3||STX Entertainment||$7,000,000||$20,000,000|
|Same Kind of Different as Me||Fri, Feb 3||Paramount||$4,500,000||$12,000,000|
|Resident Evil: The Final Chapter||Fri, Jan 27||Sony / Screen Gems||$24,000,000||$52,000,000|
|A Dog’s Purpose||Fri, Jan 27||Universal||$16,000,000||$65,000,000|
|Bastards||Fri, Jan 27||Warner Bros.||$8,000,000||$22,000,000|
|Gold||Fri, Jan 27||Weinstein Company||$7,000,000||$22,000,000|
|xXx: The Return of Xander Gage||Fri, Jan 20||Paramount||$32,000,000||$72,000,000|
|Split||Fri, Jan 20||Universal||$16,000,000||$45,000,000|
|The Founder||Fri, Jan 20||Weinstein||$9,500,000||$39,000,000|
|The Resurrection of Gavin Stone||Fri, Jan 20||High Top Releasing||$1,400,000||$3,000,000|
|Live By Night||Fri, Jan 13||Warner Bros.||$25,000,000**||$69,000,000|
|Patriots Day||Fri, Jan 13||Lionsgate||$23,500,000**||$78,000,000|
|Sleepless||Fri, Jan 13||Open Road Films||$13,000,000**||$42,000,000|
|Monster Trucks||Fri, Jan 13||Paramount||$12,000,000**||$22,000,000|
|The Bye Bye Man||Fri, Jan 13||STX Entertainment||$8,000,000**||$17,000,000|
|Underworld: Blood Wars||Fri, Jan 6||Sony / Screen Gems||$17,000,000||$42,000,000|
|Hidden Figures||Fri, Jan 6||Fox||$9,000,000||$35,000,000|
|Why Him?||Fri, Dec 23||Fox||$9,000,000||$54,000,000|
|Passengers||Wed, Dec 21||Sony / Columbia||$30,000,000*||$120,000,000|
|Sing||Wed, Dec 21||Universal||$34,000,000*||$180,000,000|
|Assassin’s Creed||Wed, Dec 21||Fox||$20,000,000*||$77,000,000|
*= 3-day weekend (Friday-Sunday)
**= 4-day weekend (Friday-Monday)
Shawn Robbins and Jesse Rifkin contributed to this report.