Weekend Forecast: ‘Ready Player One,’ ‘Acrimony,’ & ‘God’s Not Dead 3’ Set for Easter Debuts

Steven Spielberg’s awaited adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One novel hits theaters this Easter weekend, aiming to benefit from the book’s huge popularity and 1980s pop culture nostalgia that has permeated entertainment over the past decade. Across 124 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the film stands at a strong 82 percent as of Wednesday afternoon, a figure that bodes well for the fan faithful.

Still, there’s reason to be cautious in expectations for the flick as its tracking metrics across traditional and social media pathways have turned up similar to those of Blade Runner 2049 and Tomorrowland. The former of those two — much like 2010’s Tron: Legacy and 2011’s Super 8 — were driven at the box office by nostalgic viewers and 80s babies, a trend expected to apply here for many obvious reasons.

Thursday’s opening day for Ready Player One skews projections somewhat, especially for a fan-driven property, but significant family appeal should pad its weekend numbers as many are out of school and work for Good Friday. The film’s matinee appeal will give it an extra leg up on Saturday, and potentially even Sunday as families celebrate Easter together, hoping to ease likely front-loading by dedicated fans on Wednesday night/Thursday. Three- and four-day forecasts for the Spielberg valentine are in the table below.

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony counter-programs this weekend with both Perry and star Taraji P. Henson’s fan bases ideally combining to generate a solid mid-range success. Perry previously opened Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor on Easter weekend in 2013 to the tune of $21.6 million, and Acrimony is tracking similar to that film. It wouldn’t be surprising to approach that opening level, but current forecasts are a bit lower due to the level of competition already in the market.

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is timed for faith-based crowds turning out over Easter weekend, but we’re expecting it comes in south of the first sequel’s $7.6 million opening weekend in 2016 with I Can Only Imagine still shattering expectations and Paul, Apostle of Christ also directly targeting Christian audiences heading into its sophomore frame. As a low-budget film, though, our forecast would still be good news for Pure Flix as the distributor expects around $4 million.

Speaking of Imagine and Paul, those and others — notably Black Panther — should see strong holds this weekend with Spring Break colliding into Good Friday and Easter business.

Top 10 Comparisons

Year-to-year comps remain skewed as not only did last March boast a stronger slate, but Easter weekend didn’t fall until two weeks later on the calendar. For this weekend, look for a top ten gross around $110 million — down 32 percent from $161.7 million the same weekend last year when The Boss Baby debuted to an excellent $50.2 million.

Top 10 Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, April 1 % Change from Last Wknd
Ready Player One Warner Bros. $36,000,000 $47,000,000 NEW
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony Lionsgate $17,000,000 $17,000,000 NEW
Black Panther Disney / Marvel $10,400,000 $649,800,000 -39%
I Can Only Imagine Roadside Attractions $10,300,000 $55,500,000 -24%
Pacific Rim: Uprising Universal $10,100,000 $47,700,000 -64%
Sherlock Gnomes Paramount $6,500,000 $21,700,000 -39%
Tomb Raider Warner Bros. $5,600,000 $51,000,000 -45%
God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness Pure Flix $5,000,000 $5,000,000 NEW
Love, Simon Fox $4,700,000 $31,800,000 -38%
Paul, Apostle of Christ Sony / Columbia $4,000,000 $12,000,000 -23%