Looking ahead as the calendar turns to August, this coming weekend will be the last big one of the summer box office season. “The Lion King,” now a freshly-minted $1 billion hit, will continue to be a presence, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” enters a crucial second weekend and Universal sends in its summer tentpole, “Hobbs & Shaw.”
“Hobbs & Shaw” isn’t looking like it will make “Jurassic World” numbers… at least domestically. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff is projected to see an opening in the low $60 million range, with Universal estimating a $57-60 million domestic launch. By comparison, 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious” opened to $98.7 million.
But over the last eight years, starting with “Fast Five,” the “Fast & Furious” series has taken more and more of its success from overseas. For “Fate of the Furious,” which made over $1 billion, only 18.3% of its total grosses came from domestic moviegoers.
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The globetrotting nature of latter-day “F&F” films has allowed the series to reach Marvel levels of cultural transcendence, and Dwayne Johnson is still one of the most bankable movie stars, giving this spinoff plenty of upside. If “Hobbs & Shaw” performs close to as well as past “F&F” films internationally, particularly in China, a smaller domestic opening shouldn’t be a problem.
“Hobbs & Shaw” sees former “Fast & Furious” rivals Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) be forced to team up to take down a genetically enhanced terrorist (Idris Elba). David Leitch directs from a script written by longtime “F&F” writer Chris Morgan with Drew Pearce. Morgan, Johnson and Statham are producing with Hiram Garcia. Vanessa Kirby and Helen Mirren also star.
Meanwhile, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” will try to leg out as a blockbuster alternative throughout August after earning a very solid $41 million opening weekend. The good news for Sony and Quentin Tarantino is that the opening weekend audience was younger than analysts expected, with Postrak finding that nearly 60 percent of tickets sold were for ages 18-35.
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That means that there may still be a largely untapped reserve of Gen X and Boomer moviegoers that can sustain “OUATIH” through August. But it is still unknown whether audience word of mouth — a B on CinemaScore and a 4/5 on Postrak — and the allure of Tarantino and stars like Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt will be enough to keep the film going. 10 years ago, “Inglourious Basterds” dropped 49% from its $38 million opening weekend, so roughly a $20 million second weekend will be the target for “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.