20th Century Fox’s sixth iteration of The Predator is expected to hit its tracking range between $25M-$30M at around 4,000 locations including Imax and PLF locations.

In the wake of buzzy promo blitzes at CinemaCon and San Diego Comic-Con, the film hit a bump in the road as it headed to TIFF last week and that was that director Shane Black cast a friend who was a registered sex offender. The convicted offender’s scene with Olivia Munn was cut last week. While studio marketing and PR executives fear this type of black ink in this day and age which can throw a film’s commercial trajectory off its tracks, many of those in distribution do not believe it will impact general moviegoers’ decision to see the $88M-budgeted R-rated sci-fi film this weekend. “It’s a matter that’s in Hollywood’s orbit,” said one non-Fox studio executive.

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Another hurdle that won’t trip The Predator this weekend: Hurricane Florence. Even though she’s already closed down 33 theaters throughout South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, and potentially 30 more, that area’s share of the domestic ticket sales won’t slow the alien monster, nor New Line’s The Nun (expected to gross around $25M in weekend 2, its current running total at $62.1M) or any other titles on the marquee this weekend.

Black’s reinvention of The Predator takes place in the backwoods of southern Georgia, where the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before. It’s up to a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor to prevent the end of the human race. Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, and Yvonne Strahovski star. Current Rotten Tomatoes score is 41% on The Predator, much lower than the original 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger version which earned 80% certified fresh and the 2010 reboot Nimrod Antal-directed version which notched 65% fresh. Best opening for a Predator movie belongs to its 2004 hybrid, Alien vs. Predator which debuted to $38.3M and finaled with the best domestic gross in the series at $80.2M. Bad reviews for The Nun didn’t stop it from becoming the top opener in The Conjuring universe last weekend with $53.8M. Let’s see what happens with The Predator. Previews start tomorrow at 7pm.

Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s has its Paul Feig-directed black comedy A Simple Favor which has the best reviews of all the wide entries this weekend with an 83% RT score. Hopefully that will propel the adult crowd out and enable the pic to best its $12M-$15M tracking.

A Simple Favor centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined in her search by Emily’s husband Sean (Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding). Pic will hold 7PM previews at 2,220 screens before widening to 3K-plus screens on Friday.
Sony Pictures

Then there’s Studio 8/Sony’s gritty crime noir White Boy Rick about the Detroit teenager who doubled as ace crack dealer and FBI informant during the 1980s. The studio looked to position this early on during awards season with bows at Telluride and TIFF. Critics are truly split on this one with the Matthew McConaughey film’s RT score at 58% Rotten. An $8M-$10M start is expected at 2,500 locations. Previews at 7PM.

Pure Flix has the more faith-based approach to the Louis Zamperini story with Unbroken: Path to Redemption which is expected to make between $2M-$4M at 1,583 locations. God’s Not Dead helmer Harold Cronk who directed last weekend’s faith-based misfire God Bless the Broken Road ($1.3M) from Freestyle, directs again here with Unbroken. Brian Brooks will weigh in with the specialty report later this week.