Ouija, another micro-budget pic from Blumhouse Prods., is likely to take the weekend, despite Universal keeping this one away from the critics (Danger, Will Robinson!). It opens tonight at 8 PM in over 2,000 theaters before its Friday run of 2,857. Universal is thinking it could do high-teens, but the horror crowd comes out in force the first weekend and this one is appealing to teen girls and the Hispanic and African American sectors which tend to come out in groups to see films. Good news for this one, so if that happens, figure it could do anywhere from $20M-$24M. The audiences for horror films always seem to come out in force and then the drop-off comes the second weekend. But this second weekend will be Halloween.
Based on the Hasbro toy of the same name, Ouija had been in development for some time and back in 2008, it was originally envisioned as a big-budget film with Michael Bay (hence, he is still on as one of the producers). However, producer Jason Blum stepped in and said, ‘Hey, I can do this on a micro-budget,’ and so here we go. No recognizable names to speak of, so the star is the well-known brand name of the board itself. (The Oujia Board has been produced by Hasbro since 1966.) With a PG-13 rating, the audience could widen for this one ahead of Halloween which will see the 10th anniversary release of Saw. It is certainly outpacing Oculus which opened to $12M and last year’s Carrie which opened to $16.1M, but is waaay, waaay under the expectations of Annabelle which opened $37.1M.
John Wick is a very violent R, but it has the advantage of opening in IMAX theaters this weekend, it’s selling right under Ouija in advance ticket sales per Fandango, and it’s getting decent reviews (around 89% on Rotten Tomatoes). But, after Keanu Reeves’ last dismal outing of 47 Ronin in the states, this Lionsgate release will test if there is box office prowess left in the 50-year-old action star. 47 Ronin was a stiff here as the big-budget film flopped with a slim box office take of $38.3M but did better internationally with $112.6M (or 75% of its box office).
John Wick is a co-production with China, so the country should open its arms to it. Reeves lived for months in China while filming last year’s Man of Tai Chi. He is part Chinese himself as his grandmother was both Hawaiian and Chinese. If the Red State males come out for this entry, Lionsgate might get somewhat of a boost. Right now, the tracking numbers show anywhere between $7M-$9M but others are saying much higher, perhaps $11M-$14M. The question: Is there an audience domestically for Keanu Reeves anymore? It opens tonight at 8 PM before going wide Friday in 2,589 theaters (that includes IMAX).
Fury, the Brad Pitt-starring war movie from Sony and QED International, is expected to drop next in the lineup with around $10M-$11.5M. Gone Girl, which crossed $100M last weekend, will continue in the top five and could tap the No. 3 spot as tracking shows $9M-$10M. After that, it could very well be a three-way race between John Wick, the second weekend of Fox’s animated eye candy The Book Of Life, and the expansion of the Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy drama/comedy St. Vincent. The jury is out on John Wick.
St. Vincent is a delightful Capraesque film which played fairly well last weekend in 25 markets and is now going wide into 2,282 runs. I expect this one to garner a high CinemaScore which will carry word-of-mouth for distributor The Weinstein Co. and director Ted Melfi. Chris O’Dowd, as usual, is a scene stealer in the film which also stars Naomi Watts and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher.
Birdman, which had the second best per screen average last weekend of 2014 (right behind Fox Searchlight’s other gem, The Grand Budapest Hotel) with $106K, expands to 50 theaters. Earlier this year, FSL saw Budapest drop from a record $202K to $55K in its expansion. Michael Keaton stars in this film in what is being viewed as his comeback role. The question here is what the drop might be.