Can ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ and ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Escape Thor’s Shadow?

Both of this weekend’s releases aren’t expected to stop Marvel movie’s momentum

After continuing Marvel’s hot streak with a $122.7 million opening, “Thor: Ragnarok” is expected to easily hold on to the No. 1 spot with a second weekend total in the $50 million range, leaving this week’s new entries, Fox’s “Murder On The Orient Express” and Paramount’s “Daddy’s Home 2” to aim for returns of half that amount.

Both films are projected by independent trackers to make openings of around $25 million, with studio projections set slightly lower in the $21-$23 million range. “Murder” has a production budget of $55 million, while “Daddy’s Home 2” has a budget of $69 million, the same as its 2015 predecessor.

For “Daddy’s Home 2,” which is releasing on 3,570 screens, an opening in this range would be a substantial step down from the $38 million the first “Daddy’s Home” made two years ago a week after the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The sequel will try to have the same legs that the first film had, making $242.7 million worldwide with $150.3 domestic. But next weekend will provide another wave of tough competition in the form of “Justice League,” which could mean  this comedy gets squeezed out in a movie market that will get more and more crowded with each passing week after a sparse October.

As for “Murder,” which is going out on 3,374 screens, reviews have been fairly positive with a 64 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery will try to lure moviegoers in with its all-star cast that includes Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., and “The Force Awakens” star Daisy Ridley. It will be interesting to see how “Murder” performs in the crowded market, as mid-budget adult dramas are becoming increasingly rare in wide release.

“Daddy’s Home 2” sees Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell return as reformed dad Dusty and responsible but wimpy step-dad Brad as they struggle to raise their kids together during the holidays while dealing with their own fathers (Mel Gibson and John Lithgow) and the newest dad in the family, Roger (John Cena). Sean Anders returns to direct the film, co-writing the screenplay with John Morris.

“Murder on the Orient Express” was adapted for the screen by Michael Green, who also co-wrote “Logan” and “Blade Runner 2049,” with Branagh directing. Branagh also stars with Cruz, Dafoe, Dench, Ridley, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, and Michelle Pfeiffer; and is producing with Ridley Scott.

Also coming out this weekend in limited release is Fox Searchlight’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which is written and directed by Martin McDonagh and stars Frances McDormand as the mother of a raped and murdered teenage daughter who challenges the town’s police chief (Woody Harrelson) with three billboards demanding he find her daughter’s killer. The film has received critical acclaim with a 97 percent RT score and is expected to be in contention for several Oscars. Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, and Peter Dinklage also star.