After an opening May weekend where “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was the only big title in theaters, the Marvel behemoth will find some company at the cinema as Fox/Chernin Entertainment’s “Snatched” and Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” make their debut.
Last weekend saw the summer box office get off to a weak start beyond the $146 million opening for “Guardians.” Total box office revenue was down 20 percent from this time last year due in large part to the lack of serious holdover competition buoying totals.
In 2016, “The Jungle Book” helped lift overall numbers with a $24 million fourth week holdover compared to just $8.5 million from “The Fate of the Furious” this year. “King Arthur” and “Snatched” might give the box office an extra hope, though not as much as number crunchers are hoping.
“Snatched,” which stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a mother-daughter pair who work their differences out during an unexpected vacation, is projected to make $20-22 million this weekend, although Fox projects a more conservative opening in the mid-teens as it hits approximately 3,400 screens. For this small-budget comedy, there is potential for a profit, as such fare is often presented in this release slot as counter-programming to the blockbusters that come out the week after. The most successful recent example is Universal’s “Bridesmaids,” which released to a $26 million opening in this slot back in 2011 and turned into a cult hit thanks to word of mouth. By the end of its run, “Bridesmaids” grossed $288 million worldwide against a $32.5 million total.
On the other hand, there’s “Hot Pursuit,” a 2015 Warner Bros. cop comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. Poor reviews crippled the film, giving it a $13 million opening and a $51 million global cume against a $35 million budget. With reviews yet to be released for “Snatched,” word of mouth will be critical for the film to reach its target.
“Snatched” is directed by Jonathan Levine and written by Schumer, Katie Dippold and Kim Caramele. Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni, Ike Barinholtz, ?”scar Jaenada and Wanda Sykes also star in the film; with Paul Feig, Peter Chernin, Jessie Henderson and Michael Kurzan producing.
“King Arthur,” meanwhile, is projected for a $25 million opening by both Warner Bros. and independent trackers, but that was before overwhelmingly negative reviews started pouring in Tuesday morning. The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Guy Ritchie’s spin on King Arthur’s origins has settled at 15 percent, which is a bad omen for a sword-swinging action fantasy film aiming at a target demo that “Guardians” has a stranglehold on. That means Warner Bros. will be looking to overseas markets to put this film in the black.
Warner Bros. has had a history of releasing these sort of blockbusters in the second weekend of May. Two years ago, WB released the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton horror comedy “Dark Shadows,” which made $245 million but against a $150 million budget. Other box office flops released in this space include 2006’s “Poseidon,” ($181 million cume/$160 million budget) and the cult hit “Speed Racer”($94 million cume/$120 million budget). WB’s last big success in this frame was “The Great Gatsby,” a $150 million film that got a $50 million opening and a $351 million global total. Still, the last blockbuster similar to “King Arthur” that did well in this space was the 2004 historical epic “Troy,” and with “Guardians” still providing moviegoers their spectacle fix and critics stifling the film’s word of mouth potential, the outlook is bleak for Ritchie’s medieval tale.
“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” stars Charlie Hunnam as the titular monarch as he ascends from street rat to the throne of Camelot after learning of his true ancestry and how he was deprived of his birthright by his corrupt uncle Vortigern (Jude Law). The film is written by Ritchie with Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram and also stars Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou and Eric Bana. Akiva Goldsman, Toby Tunnell and Steve Clark-Hall produced along with the writers.