Presidents Day will see the release of four new films, providing an extra kick to the box office in addition to what should be decent holds for the previous weekend’s blockbusters The LEGO Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker. Universal’s historical action fantasy The Great Wall should lead the way, followed by the Warner Bros. R-rated comedy Fist Fight and two horror releases: Fox’s A Cure for Wellness and Sony’s Patient Zero.
The Great Wall (Universal)
- The historical action film follows a European mercenary fighting in medieval China alongside the Great Wall against a mysterious monster. Its all-star Chinese supporting cast should earn it big dollars in China if for whatever reason it fails to in America. Matt Damon is coming off two straight box office hits. 2016’s Jason Bourne earned $162.1 million, less than some other Bourne installments but still certainly qualifying as a success, and 2015’s The Martian with $228.4 million.
- The film has tentatively attracted controversy for casting a white actor as the lead role in a film taking place in China and primarily about Chinese culture. Then again, similar criticisms didn’t seem to hurt the box office for A Beautiful Mind or Argo, when Jennifer Connelly and Ben Affleck played real-life Hispanics despite both being Caucasian themselves. Great Wall could also suffer if the previous weekend’s action release John Wick: Chapter Two performs and/or holds better than expected.
Fist Fight (Warner Bros.)
- The R-rated comedy stars Ice Cube and Charlie Day as two school teachers, one tough and one wimpy, who get into an argument that escalates into a fist fight in the school parking lot that the entire student body gathers to watch. The theme of teachers — usually a respected and admired profession — is reminiscent of 2011’s Bad Teacher which earned $100.2 million.
- Can the two leads can attract audiences as leads? Ice Cube made good money with 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street where he was clearly in a supporting role, and same thing with Ride Along where the primary draw was Kevin Hart. 2016’s Ride Along 2 made about 32 percent less than the 2014 original, while 2016’s Barbershop: The Next Cut also sold by far the fewest tickets in the Barbershop trilogy. Charlie Day might also not be a big enough name, with his biggest comedy hit being Horrible Bosses where he was part of an ensemble — and even then, 2014’s sequel earned less than half the original’s gross.
A Cure for Wellness (Fox)
- The creepy trailer has earned buzz for its limited revealing of the film’s plot alongside plenty of intriguing and memorable horror visuals. The premise centers on a wellness center in Switzerland where horrific experiments are conducted on the patients. Director Gore Verbinski knows how to spark huge box office by helming the first three Pirates of the Caribbean installments: 2003’s The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest, and 2007’s At World’s End. Notably, the fourth installment was the first without Verbinski at the helm and it grossed notably less than the previous three.
- Pitting two films of the same genre in the same weekend against each other is a risky bet no matter what, but especially in horror where grosses are usually less. If Patient Zero ends being the breakout among the two, it could be a zero-sum game.
Patient Zero (Sony / Columbia)
- The plot: a pandemic mutates most humans into a new species, and only one human survivor is able to communicate as he tries to create a cure, including for his infected wife. The premise could appeal to fans of action, sci-fi, and horror. Plus the two lead stars are Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer, stars of two of the biggest sci-fi or fantasy television series of this decade in Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, although neither have yet proven their bona fides at the box office.
- The film doesn’t even have a trailer out yet, which is virtually unheard of for a film two months out from its release. It’s hard to build buzz if you haven’t released a trailer, the main way during “the YouTube era” to spark interest in a movie.
Check out the official Boxoffice Pro long range forecast in the table below.
|Title||Wide Release Date||Distributor||Opening Weekend||Cumulative|
|The Great Wall||Fri, Feb 17||Universal||$34,000,000*||$68,000,000|
|Fist Fight||Fri, Feb 17||Warner Bros.||$25,000,000*||$63,000,000|
|A Cure For Wellness||Fri, Feb 17||Fox||$13,500,000*||$35,000,000|
|Patient Zero||Fri, Feb 17||Sony / Columbia||$8,500,000*||$19,000,000|
|Fifty Shades Darker||Fri, Feb 10||Universal||$41,000,000||$83,000,000|
|The LEGO Batman Movie||Fri, Feb 10||Warner Bros.||$56,000,000||$210,000,000|
|John Wick: Chapter Two||Fri, Feb 10||Lionsgate||$20,000,000||$45,000,000|
|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.||$15,000,000*||$35,000,000|
|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|
|Amityville: The Awakening||Fri, Jan 6||Weinstein / Dimension||$8,000,000||$17,000,000|
|Hidden Figures||Fri, Jan 6||Fox||$11,000,000||$43,000,000|
*= 4-day weekend, Friday-Monday, referring to Martin Luther King Day in January or Presidents Day in February.
Shawn Robbins and Jesse Rifkin contributed to this report.