Crowded Field Fuels Potentially Wild MLK Weekend – Box Office Preview

Without a major four-quad tentpole release in place over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend — the first in some time — a trio of wide releases and a trio of wide expansions are crowding the box office marketplace. The glut is making a No. 1 winner unclear, especially following the surprise win last weekend for 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures.

“Surely, if Paramount’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage debuted over the holiday, it would dominate over everything and we wouldn’t be in this situation,” one distribution czar said of the wide-entry frenzy.

Over four days, Fox’s Hidden Figures, Disney/Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and CBS/Lionsgate’s wide break on Peter Berg’s Patriots Day are all in contention to gross between $20M-$22M to take the top three slots on the chart. Some even think Illumination/Universal’s Sing might get close to the $20M threshold also.

Similar to Hidden Figures, Patriots Day is coming off some excellent word-of-mouth — an A CinemaScore and 79% fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating — after a great limited holiday run. Already having banked close to $900K from seven locations Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Select markets will play Thursday night previews.


Also looking to do some biz — but not much given its exorbitant cost and automatic $115M write-down by parent company Viacom — is Paramount’s live action/CGI Monster Trucks. It’s expected to draw $12M-$14M over four days at 3,000 locations including 3D showtimes (the Melrose lot believes it’s lower, close to $8M-$10M).

Raising the volume this weekend is Lionsgate/Summit’s La La Land, after scoring a record seven wins at the Golden Globes on Sunday. Writer-director Damien Chazelle’s musical love letter to Los Angeles jumps from 1,515 theaters to nearly 1,850 (that includes 100 Imax runs) for what the industry predicts will be a $12M sixth weekend. Through Tuesday, La La Land stands at $55.9M.

Warner Bros Pictures

Warner Bros. is also taking its Ben Affleck-directed 1920s gangster movie Live by Night from four New York and Los Angeles theaters to 2,700-plus as well as 26 overseas territories including Mexico, Russia and the UK. Stateside, tracking sees this movie, which is based on the Dennis Lehane novel, to make between $10M-$11M.


At 2,200-2,300 venues is Intrepid Pictures/Los Angeles Media Fund Production/STX’s PG-13 horror film The Bye Bye Man, which was co-financed by the latter two for $7.4M. The pic is making a play at younger females for a hopeful weekend in the $10M range. In Bye Bye Man, three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind man’s most unspeakable acts. Stacy Title directed the film, and Jonathan Penner adapted the script from the short story The Bridge to Body Island by Robert Damon Schneck. Previews start tomorrow night.


Jamie Foxx has the solo action crime movie Sleepless from Open Road at play at 1,800 theaters.  The $30M-budgeted pic is eyeing $7M-$8M over four days. There will be Thursday previews.

Par is also widening Martin Scorsese’s Silence which has also had a solid limited run with $977K from 51 venues and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86% fresh. Pic’s cost is in the $40M range. The question that will be answered this weekend: Does Silence play in the flyover states or is this just a metropolitan movie? We’ll see. On Friday, it goes to 750 sites with industry 4-day weekend projections between $4M-$6M. Five hundred of the pic’s 750 sites will hold Thursday night previews, while Monster Trucks won’t gas up until Friday.

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