2016 is over. 2017 is now underway. At the box office, the year starts with Sony’s science-fiction sequel Underworld: Blood Wars opening, along with the wide expansions of Fox’s period drama Hidden Figures and Focus Features’ fantasy A Monster Calls, which have been playing on 25 and 4 screens this past weekend respectively.
In addition, La La Land doubles from 750 to about 1,500 theaters, though with a 7th place finish at this past weekend’s box office it’s already been doing well enough that we won’t discuss it in our Weekend Forecast here.
Underworld: Blood Wars (Sony / Screen Gems)
- The fifth installment in the Underworld franchise, second installment Evolution made $62.3 million in January 2006, third Rise of the Lycans earned $45.8 million in January 2009, and fourth Awakening took $62.3 million in January 2012. You’ll notice those were all January releases, and Blood Wars hopes to continue that successful trend.
- The two most recent Underworld installments were also the two lowest-grossing ones, adjusted for inflation, indicating that the franchise might be losing steam among audiences. (That being said, both of those films still did well enough to greenlight sequels.) And the sci-fi audience might be partially taken away by the continuing strong box office holds of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Passengers, which came in first and third place this past weekend.
Hidden Figures (Fox)
- The film tells the little-known story of three African American women whose science and mathematics skills made largely-unheralded contributions to the fledgling NASA missions in the 1960s. Since the movie’s limited release opening on Christmas Day Sunday in only 25 theaters, it’s done very well at the box office, taking in $1.19 million for this past 4-day weekend for a $47,677 per-theater average, the highest of any film in release last weekend. Plus Hidden has been steadily rising in the Oscar buzz.
- Can this break out to become a hit with the general public rather than just a niche? And audience as a rule almost always prefer escapism to reality, so a reality-based space movie be able to overtake Rogue One or Passengers, two escapism-based space movies also doing well right now.
A Monster Calls (Focus Features)
- The fantasy about a giant tree that comes to life was originally scheduled for an October weekend that was set to be the single most crowded one of 2016, but then they moved the title to January. Probably a smart move from a box office perspective, as it would have had to compete against Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Boo! A Madea Halloween, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Keeping Up with the Joneses. Although none of those were direct competition by genre, the first two both earned at least $22 million on their opening weekend, a mark that both of Monster‘s new competitors seem unlikely to reach.
- Focus Features had a lackluster track record in 2016 with their films aimed at a family audience, with Kubo and the Two Strings earning a fair $48.0 million and Ratchet & Clank earning only $8.8 million. Plus the last film with the premise of “child is visited in the night by a mysterious giant monster” was this summer’s The BFG, which was one of the biggest box office busts of director Steven Spielberg’s entire career. And its per-theater average hasn’t been nearly as strong as Hidden Figures, with only $7,515 per screen this past weekend.
Boxoffice Pro predicts the top 10 films this weekend will earn a cumulative $147,180,000. That’s 25.86 percent below the $198.53 million earned by the 10 films on this weekend last year, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens led for the third consecutive weekend with $90.24 million. It’s also 11.5 percent below the $166.37 million earned by the top 10 films on last weekend’s 3-day.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A Monster Calls was mistakenly excluded from the chart when this article was published. Our official weekend prediction for the film is $2.3 million.
Check out the official Boxoffice Pro weekend forecast in the table below.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend estimate||Estimated total through Sunday, January 8||% change from last weekend|
|Rogue One: A Star Wars Story||Disney||$29,000,000||$485,870,000||-41.54%|
|Underworld: Blood Wars||Sony / Screen Gems||$13,500,000||$13,500,000||new|
|La La Land||Lionsgate/Summit||$12,000,000||$53,250,000||25.61%|
|Passengers (2016)||Sony / Columbia||$11,310,000||$83,760,000||-30.01%|
|Manchester by the Sea||Roadside Attractions||$3,400,000||$34,580,000||-19.89%|
|Collateral Beauty||Warner Bros. (New Line)||$2,910,000||$31,600,000||-30.07%|
Shawn Robbins, Jesse Rifkin, and Alex Edghill contributed to this report.