Weekend Forecast: Bad Boys for Life Tracking for $40M+ MLK Debut, Dolittle Forecast Softens, & 1917 Looks to Hold Strong Post-Oscar Nods

Despite the old notion of big box office business coming to an end after Christmas and New Year’s, January has been no stranger to hits in recent years — particularly over MLK weekend — and this year looks to continue that encouraging trend.

Up first, Sony’s Bad Boys for Life is on pace to beat already optimistic expectations. The long-awaited Will Smith / Martin Lawrence three-quel is expected by its distributor to take in $38 million or more over the four-day holiday frame, but our current models suggest the film may even out-perform that figure.

The film’s marketing has hit all the right notes in recent months, driving very healthy social media activity and pre-release metrics that rival those of the Ride Along franchise — which similarly opened over MLK weekend in 2014 and 2016. We’re also seeing significantly stronger interest than Smith’s own Gemini Man at the same point before release, underlining the excitement among adult audiences for one last romp with the 25-year-old action series.

One factor to note is that the film will split IMAX in many areas with Dolittle this weekend, which could slightly skew some forecasting models given the benefit of those ticket surcharges some titles are able to take advantage through full showtime slates.

Last but not least, Rotten Tomatoes critics have awarded the sequel with an encouraging 78 percent score thus far, well above the 42 and 23 percent scores of its respective predecessors.

Unfortunately for the other new release, models are softening in a noticeable way. Universal’s Dolittle, once expected to ride the wave of Robert Downey, Jr.’s family appeal created by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is now trending for a more down-to-earth four-day start around $20 – 25 million.

For many family pics, that would be a solid showing, but this pic’s reported $175 million budget means it needs to beat current expectations from a global financial standpoint. Still, with minimal competition for families, if word of mouth is more kind than initial critics’ opinions, there could still be some upside for playability in the weeks ahead before Sonic the Hedgehog opens on February 14.

Meanwhile, Universal’s own 1917 should drawa strong hold in its second weekend of wide release. The World War I epic from Sam Mendes capitalized on its Golden Globe wins with a fantastic $37 million wide launch last weekend, and is now fresh off another big momentum-push with 10 Oscar nominations. The film is the favorite to remain in the top two if Dolittle meets updated forecasts. For comparison, The Revenant eased 20 percent in its second wide weekend (also part of MLK weekend) four years ago.

Several other Oscar nominees will re-expand again this weekend, including Warner Bros.’ Joker and Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (among likely others). Official theater counts haven’t been confirmed outside of those two films yet, but all are currently excluded from our forecast below.

One final note to keep in mind this weekend will be potential competition with the NFL playoffs on Sunday, although the holiday on Monday should in turn help ease the drop of many films that day.

Opening Weekend Ranges

  • Bad Boys for Life ($37 – 42 million 3-day / $46 – 52 million 4-day)
  • Dolittle ($16 – 21 million 3-day / $20 – 25 million 4-day)

Top 10 vs. Last Year

Boxoffice projects this three-day weekend’s top ten films will increase approximately 12 to 17 percent from the same MLK weekend one year ago. That frame saw Glass open with $40.3 million as part of an overall $109.5 million top ten aggregate over the three-day weekend.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, January 19 % Change from Last Wknd
Bad Boys for Life Sony / Columbia $40,000,000 $40,000,000 NEW
1917 Universal $25,000,000 $77,900,000 -33%
Dolittle Universal $16,900,000 $16,900,000 NEW
Jumanji: The Next Level Sony / Columbia $8,300,000 $268,500,000 -41%
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Disney / Lucasfilm $7,600,000 $490,800,000 -50%
Just Mercy Warner Bros. $7,000,000 $20,300,000 -28%
Little Women (2019) Sony / Columbia $6,300,000 $84,000,000 -19%
Like a Boss Paramount $5,200,000 $18,100,000 -48%
Frozen II Disney $4,200,000 $465,200,000 -29%
Knives Out Lionsgate $3,900,000 $145,400,000 -31%

Forecasts subject to change as location counts are finalized before Friday

The chart above excludes releases and potential expansions from limited and platform films

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