Weekend Box Office Forecast: The Bad Guys, The Northman, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Take on Sonic 2 and Dumbledore (Updated)

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation ("The Bad Guys"); Focus Features ("The Northman"); Lionsgate ("The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent"); Warner Bros. ("Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore"); Paramount ("Sonic the Hedgehog 2")

Friday Update: Universal reports this morning that The Bad Guys scored $1.15 million from Thursday’s domestic previews beginning at 5pm in around 3,000 theaters. That figure far exceeds the $240K earned by Ron’s Gone Wrong last October, as well as Wonder Park‘s $700K back in March 2019.

For the weekend, Bad Guys is likely to come in above the optimistic end of forecasts with a strong chance to open over $20 million, a much needed over-performance for a non-sequel, animated family film in the recovering market.

Universal and Focus Features also rolled out The Northman to $1.35 million last night at 2,700 locations with shows starting at 7pm. That’s another over-performance relative to pre-release expectations, coming in ahead of The Green Knight‘s $750K last summer and Ambulance‘s recent $700K. The Robert Eggers film likewise has a strong shot to reach the high end of, or above, forecasts.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent pulled $835K from last night’s previews combined with April 13’s Early Access screenings. That figure aligns with expected grosses baked into the final weekend forecast below, topping the aforementioned Ambulance as well as Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen ($725K).

With some fan interest driving initial results for the latter two films, and a late spring break in some markets influencing Bad Guys‘s own start to the weekend, projections remain in flux at this point . Still, all three films are meeting or exceeding their targets thus far as the weekend box office looks more and more likely to benefit from the growing variety of content playing in theaters this spring.

Thursday Update: The original publishing of this story on Wednesday included a typo on Ambulance‘s forecast. It has been removed and replaced by The Batman in the chart below.

Ranges for The Northman and Massive Talent have been slightly increased, but pinpoint forecasts remain unchanged from Wednesday’s publication.

Wednesday Report: Following a string of star-driven and franchise pics anchoring late March and early April, the penultimate weekend of spring movie season will see three films test the theatrical market as low-to-mid profile content in a moviegoer landscape still working out its latest evolution.

Universal and DreamWorks Animation have what’s considered the front-runner among the trio of openers with The Bad Guys bowing exclusively in theaters. The film carries a strong 93 percent score from 42 Rotten Tomatoes critics as of Wednesday, and offers the first significant animated offering for families since Sing 2 over the holidays. That could be advantageous with a small percentage of schools off this Friday as part of a late spring break.

Bad Guys‘ pre-release metrics are scattershot, which makes forecasts more volatile than usual. This comes down to the fact that not many animated films have released during the pandemic, particularly in the last four months as moviegoing has continued to slowly rebound (especially among families).

Initial metrics look far more encouraging those of Ron’s Gone Wrong, also an original animated title from a major studio, and on par with a pre-pandemic release like Wonder Park. The question is whether or not this is a title parents will deem immediately worthy of heading out to the theater for.

Where Bad Guys could hit a minor snag is in competition with the carryover family audience for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. That film heads into its third frame with plenty of gas left in the tank and the fan-driven, front-loaded aspects out of the equation now after the Easter period when it lost its premium screen footprint.

Barring a minor upset by Bad Guys, it’s very possible for Sonic 2 to recapture first place this weekend and unseat Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — although it wouldn’t be surprising to see a close race between all three titles. The latest Wizarding World prequel-sequel is inevitably going to show its own front-loaded nature in its second weekend, but to its benefit, the film still retains a fair portion of PLF — notably IMAX.

Overall fan reception has been more positive than it was for the prior Beasts film, and there isn’t much else targeting the adult female audience at Dumbledore‘s base, so it’s a slight favorite to place second.

This weekend will also see the wide release of Robert Eggers’ The Northman under the Focus Features banner. The filmmaker has developed a loyal niche following through films like The Witch and The Lighthouse, a base that is expected to turn out for his latest project.

The Northman is taking over some of the aforementioned premium screen space this weekend, and that’s where demand is strongest so far with pre-sales leaning heavily toward PLFs on Thursday night. It’s safe to expect a sharp Saturday decline from opening day with the filmmaker’s audience rushing out, but it also boasts a high 88 percent critics’ score.

Combined with an appealing ensemble cast and an effective marketing campaign in recent weeks, Northman could potentially come in a bit higher than prior expectations. Recent tracking has the film building past trends seen by films like The Green Knight and The Last Duel.

Competing for The Northman‘s target male audience, though, will be the tongue-in-cheek Nicolas Cage film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

While marketing imprints have been more than respectable for Lionsgate’s meta comedy, it remains to be seen how much of today’s moviegoing audience will prioritize it as a theatrical must-see. The concept of the film has been a challenging sell to non-Cage fans and those who aren’t avid followers of the film industry.

That said, Massive Talent‘s pre-release tracking universe has compared similarly to Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen and Wrath of Man. It, too, owns a strong review mark with 93 percent from critics so far. While the initial front-loading by Cage fans — if there is such a phenomenon — might be a factor, this could be a dark horse candidate to develop staying power in the weeks ahead depending on mainstream word of mouth.

Notably, the film held early access screenings earlier this month.

As holdovers go, trajectories get wonky this time of year as the market comes down from Easter. That’s especially true in 2022 as the holiday generated abnormal day-to-day fluctuations relative to past Good Friday and Easter frames before the pandemic.

Overall, though, the variety of content provides a decent base heading into the final weekends of April before what’s expected to be a massive start to summer with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness come May 6.

Weekend Forecast Ranges

The Bad Guys
Opening Weekend Range: $13 — 18 million

The Northman
Opening Weekend Range: $8 — 13 million

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Opening Weekend Range: $6 — 10 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Counts

Boxoffice projects a 17 to 22 percent decrease for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $105.9 million top ten aggregate. 

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, April 24 Location Count Projection (as of Wednesday) % Change from Last Wknd
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Paramount Pictures $17,300,000 $148,000,000 ~3,800 -41%
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Warner Bros. Pictures $16,200,000 $69,300,000 ~4,208 -62%
The Bad Guys Universal Pictures / DreamWorks Animation $14,800,000 $14,800,000 ~4,000 NEW
The Northman Focus Features $9,600,000 $9,600,000 ~3,200 NEW
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Lionsgate $7,200,000 $7,200,000 ~3,100 NEW
Everything Everywhere All at Once A24 $5,400,000 $26,100,000 ~2,400 -12%
The Lost City Paramount Pictures $4,800,000 $86,000,000 ~2,900 -23%
Father Stu Sony Pictures / Columbia $3,500,000 $13,700,000 ~2,705 -35%
Morbius Sony Pictures / Columbia $2,400,000 $69,600,000 ~2,400 -49%
The Batman Warner Bros. Pictures $2,200,000 $368,800,000 ~1,900 -42%

*All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation ("The Bad Guys"); Focus Features ("The Northman"); Lionsgate ("The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent"); Warner Bros. ("Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore"); Paramount ("Sonic the Hedgehog 2")