Weekend Preview: ABIGAIL Pacing to Outgun Henry Cavill for #1

Abigail, Courtesy of Universal

This weekend sees three new openers all vying for the top spot at the box office, including a horror flick, an action movie from a major director, and an anime feature. Which of these will rise and fall, and where might last weekend’s champ Civil War place? Check out our forecast below.

Boxoffice Barometer

Forecasting the Top 3 Movies at the Domestic Box Office
April 19-21, 2024

1. Abigail
Universal Pictures | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $20 – $25M
Showtime Marketshare (US): 17%


  • So far critics are relatively positive about the film, which is hovering around 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Folks in the horror community are praising the film’s humor and especially its grand guignol level of blood and gore, assuring that the genre audience will likely come out in spades for this one.
  • When it comes to fright flicks, the genre is always the star. That said, the cast is stacked with horror heavyweights who also boast youth appeal, including Melissa Barrera (Scream franchise), Kathryn Newton (Freaky, Lisa Frankenstein), and Dan Stevens (The Guest, Vamps). The latter has extra heat right now from his leading man role in recent blockbuster Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire.
  • Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (aka Radio Silence) have an excellent track record after Ready or Not and the two most recent Scream movies. Like James Wan or Christopher Landon, they know how to deftly combine humor and scares with mass audience appeal.


  • The film is a very loose remake of a more obscure title in the classic Universal Monsters pantheon, Dracula’s Daughter (1936). This tactic of revamping (pun intended) dusty old-school properties was the M.O. of the studio’s Dark Universe before it died on the vine with 2017’s disastrous The Mummy. Since then the studio has had mixed results with lower-budget retreads like the well-received The Invisible Man as well as the dud Renfield. Notably, in 2022 Blumhouse killed another Dracula-related project just before shooting: director Karyn Kusama’s contemporary take titled Mina Harker. Universal will keep the monster mash going next year with Leigh Whannell’s Wolf Man.

It’s been over a decade since The Twilight Saga came to an end, and recent vampire-themed films have not fared so well domestically even when tied to famous IP like Marvel or Dracula…

  • Morbius (2021) – $73,865,530 million
  • The Invitation (2022) – $25,100,080 million
  • Renfield (2023) – $17,297,895 million
  • The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) – $13,637,180 million

2. Civil War
A24 | Week 2
Weekend Range: $10M – $15M
Showtime Marketshare: 11%


  • Civil War is the kind of hot-button political thriller that gets people talking or writing online think pieces. Even if reception is divisive (which any movie on the topic of open warfare between Americans would be), the controversy will only drive more people towards the movie.
  • The Alex Garland film had the highest opening in A24’s history with $25.7 million, and is retaining more than 3/4s of its IMAX screens on its second weekend. Unless they suffer a catastrophic drop, the film should earn enough to come in second or third with around $10-$12 million. Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is not insurmountable for this title to get to #2, though Spy Code x Family could surprise.


  • The “B-” CinemaScore and 76% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes could potentially hurt word of mouth. Original movies are a harder sell for audiences who might be ambivalent, and without clear consensus that interest could dry up despite the #1 opening placement.
  • As we discussed in last weekend’s column, A24’s usual practice is to platform a film like this before going wide with it. In this case, with a wide opening on 3838 screens, they clearly saw this as a “snatch and grab” opportunity to lure in as many moviegoers on both sides of the political divide for a movie that was bound to disappoint some for not being what it was sold as. The studio used a similar tactic way back in 2016 to market their low budget 17th century art house film The Witch as essentially “the scariest movie ever made,” launching it in 2046 theaters to their best-ever opening weekend at the time: $8.8 million. The bait and switch worked, but audiences branded it with a “C-“ CinemaScore despite rave critical reviews. However, with a reported $50 million price tag Civil War will need to have some staying power to turn a profit for A24.

3. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Lionsgate | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $7 – $14M
Showtime Marketshare (US): 14%


  • Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes 1 & 2) is a dependable action director with grown-up appeal and a Quentin Tarantino-esque penchant for gallows humor, while producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun/Pirates of the Caribbean/Bad Boys franchises) is an old pro at delivering slick action for a mass audience. Truly a commerce movie dream team.
  • Even if the film tanks in North America, it will likely have greater legs overseas with its European setting and a cast boasting diverse international appeal (Eiza González, Babs Olusanmokun, Henry Golding, etc).
  • With its World War II setting, this is clearly skewing towards an older audience than Abigail or Spy Code x Family. While Civil War may siphon some of that older demo, it may be a case like Argylle earlier this year, where it legs it out to stay in the top five for a while. Also, unlike Civil War, the film promises escapist action set in the past—without any of the bleak undercurrents from the A24 film.


  • It’s time to question Henry Cavill’s power to launch a franchise when he’s not playing Superman. After Man of Steel should have launched him, his previous pairing with Guy Ritchie for 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. cratered with $45.4 million domestic. Three more appearances as Superman in the DCEU saw him increasingly sidelined until 2022’s Black Adam had Cavill in a mere post-credits cameo. Mission: Impossible – Fallout was a smash… but that was Tom Cruise’s movie. Other pictures like Enola Holmes and Sand Castle went straight to Netflix, while his recent return to theaters in Argylle also flatlined.
  • The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is releasing in under 3,000 screens, which means it will not be able to use theater count to bolster its overall 3-day earnings. Lionsgate has proven in the past with The Expendables franchise that it knows how to sell ensemble action… except the last two Expendables movies failed to connect with ticket buyers.

In 2019 director Guy Ritchie scored a billion dollar smash with Disney’s live-action Aladdin… but one could argue that the beloved IP + Will Smith combo was the real juice there. Still, he didn’t fumble the ball so he got to make a rapid succession of original action films that were all domestic underperformers, of which Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare will likely be the fifth…

  • The Gentlemen (2019) – $36,471,796 million
  • Wrath of Man (2021) – $27,466,489 million
  • Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre (2023) – $6,496,125 million
  • Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (2023) – $16,938,039 million

All from that bunch except The Covenant performed significantly better overseas, but that’s no comfort for theater owners this side of the pond.

Wild Card: Spy Code x Family: White
Crunchyroll | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $7 – $15M
Showtime Marketshare: 10%

Sony’s anime affiliate Crunchyroll screened 10 minutes of this title during their inaugural CinemaCon slate presentation, introducing the film as a title that could appeal to a wider segment of the anime audience. Pre-sales have had us creeping this title higher and higher in recent weeks, particularly noting the film’s PLF presence at IMAX screens across the country. Spy Code x Family: White is splitting IMAX locations with Civil War this weekend, currently claiming 20% more showtimes in the premium format than the A24 title. If this title can overperform on IMAX, it could finish as high as second over the weekend.

Abigail, Courtesy of Universal