Weekend Forecast: ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ ‘Sausage Party’ & ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

With perhaps the last hurrah of the summer season upon us this weekend, we see three new wide releases vying for second place as holdover Suicide Squad is widely expected to be still very much large and in charge during its second weekend. First up is Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, a remake of the 1977 film of the same name which they no doubt hope will see them shake off the disappointing returns of The BFG and continue on their record-breaking year. Seth Rogen and company hope that Sausage Party’s curious (and indeed unprecedented) meld of 3D animation and crude humor will connect with fans worldwide, while Meryl Streep top-lines Florence Foster Jenkins, the biopic of the delightfully inept early 20th century entertainer.

Pete’s Dragon

PROS:

– Disney has done very well with remakes of their classic titles over the past couple years with The Jungle Book and Cinderella coming to mind. The progression in CGI technology and the fact that they did away with the musical elements of the original should see this appeal to a very large audience.

– With the kind of success Disney has had in 2016 so far it’s hard to bet against any of their releases at this point. Two minor blips on their radar in The Finest Hours and The BFG, but outside of that they currently own four of the five top earners at the box office in 2016.

– So far the critics are eating it up (currently at 87% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), and with the last successful family friendly film being a full month ago (The Secret Life Of Pets), the market should have at least one more hit in it before packing up for the leaner second half of August and early September.

CONS:

– Social media has been muted so far. By comparison, The Jungle Book had over 900,000 likes on the eve of its release, while Pete has just over 80,000.

– The original film is not nearly as beloved (or remembered) as many in the Disney vault which they have successfully remade.

Sausage Party

PROS:

– Seth Rogen and his band of usual suspects have proved to be among the strongest and most consistent draws over the past 10 years in the comedic genres.

– With sequels being plentiful this summer season, this should prove to be a very original and different offering which could resonate with audiences.

– Social media awareness is huge for the film, especially on Facebook where it has over 775,000 likes.

– Its got hefty bumps in buzz with each of its trailers, especially the red band trailer which indicate strong awareness and interest amongst its core demographic.

– Critics have been singing its praises so far which can only help its appeal and draw.

CONS:

– Animated films targeting adults have traditionally done very poorly at the box office in North America, whether it be imports from Japan or home grown content. Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights comes to mind, which had Sandler at the height of his box office drawing power and still failed to even hit $10 million on opening weekend. This will be the first 3D animated R-rated movie ever released wide in North America. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut opened to just $11 million with its R-rating despite being based on the hugely popular TV show of the same name.

– Seth Rogen’s appeal has been waning in recent years with numerous misses littering his once-stellar record including The Guilt Trip, The Night Before and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising all under-performing.

Florence Foster Jenkins

PROS:

– Meryl Streep is one of the biggest box office draws for older audiences in North America. In addition she has become somewhat of a staple for August releases, with this film making four of the last five years with her having an August wide release, and five out of eight.

– With a summer full of big action films or family friendly offerings, a touching film based on a true story appealing to older audiences could potentially do very well as a counter-programming alternative. Many have tried to fill that role this Summer (The Infiltrator and The Free State Of Jones come to mind) but none have really taken off.

— Reviews are stellar (all three films this week having a greater than 85% fresh rating as of this column being posted), and though we have come to expect glowing reviews for Meryl Streep this movie currently would be one of her top eight best reviewed films of her career.

CONS:

– Meryl Streep’s last wide release was Ricki and the Flash last August which opened to just $6.6 million from 1,600 theaters and targeted a near-identical audience. That should be the best market here for Florence‘s potential.

– Social media has been largely quiet which is to be expected given the skew to older audiences.

Top 10 Forecast

Box Office Pro forecasts this weekend’s top ten films will generate $141.8 million. That would mark an 11% increase from last year’s $129.7 million when Straight Outta Compton debuted with a whopping $60.2 million to lead the box office.

Check out our complete weekend forecast below.

Title Distributor Weekend Domestic Total through
Sunday, August 14
Suicide Squad Warner Bros. $38,500,000 $219,750,000
Pete’s Dragon Disney $31,000,000 $31,000,000
Sausage Party Sony / Columbia $30,000,000 $30,000,000
Jason Bourne Universal $10,080,000 $122,890,000
Bad Moms STX Entertainment $7,700,000 $66,890,000
The Secret Life of Pets Universal $6,900,000 $333,670,000
Florence Foster Jenkins Paramount $6,500,000 $6,500,000
Star Trek Beyond Paramount $5,020,000 $137,660,000
Nine Lives (2016) EuropaCorp $3,120,000 $13,300,000
Lights Out Warner Bros. (New Line) $3,000,000 $60,920,000
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