The religious epic “Risen,” low-budget horror film “The Witch” and Jesse Owens biopic “Race” look to find their niche
“Deadpool” will take in around $65 million at the domestic box office this weekend, industry analysts said. That’s the same number they projected for the opening of Fox’s violent, profane and hilarious Ryan Reynolds superhero sendup last weekend.
The Tim Miller-directed action movie based on the Marvel Comics character more than doubled that figure, earning a stunning $135 million in three days and $150 million over the long Presidents Day weekend for Fox.
“We were flat wrong,” Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap. “But I don’t feel too bad about that, because even Fox didn’t realize what it had on its hands.” What the studio had turned out to be its biggest box-office opening ever, as well as the biggest ever for an R-rated movie, a February release and Presidents Day weekend.
“What’s notable is that it blew right past all the ‘X-Men’ openings,” said Bock, referencing the studio’s potent mutant franchise whose eight films have taken in $3.3 billion in global grosses. “There’s not much doubt about who’s driving the bus at Fox now.”
That would be “Deadpool,” a character who appeared in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” There’s been no official confirmation of a sequel, though it’s only a formality given the film’s success.
Even the end credits of “Deadpool” feature the foul-mouthed antihero not only saying there will be a sequel, but hinting at its plot and offering up Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren and Keira Knightley as possibles for the cast.
“I’m not going to argue with Deadpool,” Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution president, told TheWrap Tuesday.
This original still has a long way to go, however. It took in nearly $20 million on Monday and may very well hold the top spot until March 4, when Disney rolls out the animated “Zootopia.” Fox is adding about 100 locations this weekend and will have “Deadpool” in a market-high 3,732 theaters.
This weekend’s new entries may not challenge “Deadpool,” but they stand a good chance of making some money for their backers, providing they can find their audience.
The historical religious drama “Risen” is told from the perspective of a fictional Roman centurion, a non-believer who is assigned to investigate rumors of a risen Jewish messiah causing upheaval among the locals.
It’s tracking to open between $11 million and $15 million for Sony, which is more conservative in its projection and pins its hopes on the film playing through Easter on March 27.
It has a big-name cast and an impressive pedigree.
Reynolds is a veteran who wrote the popular 1980s movie “Red Dawn” and directed “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Waterworld” and “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Steven Mirkovich, who won praise for his work on Mel Gibson‘s “The Passion of the Christ,” helped with the editing.
It’s a Sony Affirm Films and LD Entertainment production, funded by LD Entertainment. Sony absorbed international and is thus in for about half of the $20 million production.
Mickey Liddell, Patrick Aiello and Pete Shilaimon are producers on the movie, which was executive produced by Robert Huberman and Scott Holroyd.
The PG-13 drama will be in roughly 2,800 theaters.
A24 envisioned “The Witch” as a digital/VOD/multiplatform play when it acquired the micro-budgeted horror film for $1 million after the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category.
But on Friday, “The Witch” will debut in 1,800 theaters and be the widest opening ever for the distributor, which has employed a gradual platform rollout with its previous films.
“The Witch” will be the first A24 movie to open at $1 million or more, and will be well on the path to profitability if it can gross $3 million.
The early response to the R-rated chiller set in Puritan New England is what convinced A24 that the film had the potential to score significantly. Written and directed by Robert Eggers, it stars Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie.
The critics are sold. It’s at 85 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Race” is the true story of Jesse Owens and his bid to become the greatest track-and-field athlete in history. He’s thrust onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.
Canadian Stephan James stars as the young American sprinter, after replacing John Boyega, who left to take the role in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Directed by Stephen Hopkins and written by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, the film co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and Carice van Houten.
“Race” is the first big-screen portrayal of the record-setting athlete supported by the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation and the Jesse Owens Trust. Solo Film and Trinity Race produced the film. Focus Features acquired U.S. rights for $5 million, and will have it in 2,369 theaters.
It will be interesting to see how it plays in Germany, where it opens on May 1 via SquareOne Entertainment.