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Can ‘Ford v Ferrari’ Give Fox a Much-Needed Box Office Win?

2019 has been a terrible box office year for Fox both prior to and after the Disney merger

This time last year, 20th Century Fox was riding high as “Bohemian Rhapsody” was in the midst of a theatrical run that would finish with $903 million grossed worldwide and four Oscars. But as the now Disney-owned studio prepares to release the acclaimed “Ford v Ferrari” into theaters, their fortunes have completely soured.

In 2019, the studio has not released a single film with a domestic total of over $100 million, with the top-grossing film being January’s “Alita: Battle Angel” with $85 million domestic and $403 million worldwide. After Fox’s merger with Disney was completed in March, the studio released “Dark Phoenix,” a film that ended Fox’s “X-Men” series on a huge bomb with just $252 million grossed worldwide against a $200 million production budget and pushing Fox into an operational loss of $170 million in its first financial quarter under Disney.

“Ford v Ferrari” will not completely erase Fox’s woes, but it would give the studio a chance to end the year on a positive note as it continues to release the remaining films on its pre-merger slate. Directed by James Mangold, “Ford v Ferrari” received strong reviews from its Telluride premiere in September and currently holds a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Right now, box office trackers are projecting an opening in the high $20 million range, with the possibility of it rising to above $30 million if strong word of mouth builds over the course of the weekend. With a reported budget of $97 million, the film will need awards buzz to help it leg out as well as strong overseas numbers. Fortunately, the film has a chance to earn both thanks to its strong reviews and its appeal to motorsports fans around the world, many of whom know about the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans and its impact on racing.

“Ford v Ferrari” tells the true story of the rivalry between Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II, which sparked after the former refused to include his iconic racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, in a buyout of the Italian car company to Ford. Angered, Ford calls on legendary car maker Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to design a car that can beat Ferrari at Le Mans, leading Shelby to create the iconic GT40 with the help of loose cannon driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale).

Mangold directed the film from a script by Jason Keller and Jez & John-Henry Butterworth. Mangold also produced the film with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping.

Also releasing this weekend is Sony/Columbia’s “Charlie’s Angels,” Elizabeth Banks’ take on the famed classic TV series. The film is projected for an $18-20 million opening against a $48 million budget and is looking for strong turnout from female audiences to overperform.

Written, directed by, and starring Banks, “Charlie’s Angels” follows a modern Townsend Agency that has gone global with multiple teams of Angels and Bosleys. One such team (Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska) is called into action when they are alerted to the existence of a dangerous new piece of technology that could threaten the world. Noah Centineo, Djimon Hounsou and Patrick Stewart also star in the film, which has a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Finally, there’s Warner Bros./New Line’s “The Good Liar,” which stars Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen in a thriller about a widow being targeted by a charismatic con man. Directed by Bill Condon from a script by Jeffrey Hatcher, the film has a 67% Rotten Tomatoes score and is projected for a $5-9 million opening.