“I, Frankenstein,” this weekend’s only wide opener, doesn’t look like it will come alive at the box office.
The computer-effects-heavy 3D horror fantasy starring a buffed-up Aaron Eckhart is looking at an opening of around $10 million this weekend, say the analysts. They see the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy “Ride Along” repeating as the weekend champ with around $20 million and Open Road’s animated “The Nut Job” finishing No. second.
If that happens, it will be the third straight week that Universal Pictures has had the leading movie, since “Lone Survivor” took the top spot two weeks ago. This is typically one of the year’s slower weekends of the year, and the bad weather hitting much of the Midwest and East isn’t going to help.
“I, Frankenstein” is an updated version of Shelley’s classic tale, filled with CGI gargoyles and demons. It’s based on the Darkstorm graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux and written and directed by Stuart Beattie. Billy Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto and Grevioux co-star.
Lionsgate is distributing “I, Frankenstein,” which was financed by Lakeshore Entertainment and Australia’s Hopscotch Features to the tune of $65 million. Lakeshore is the company behind the “Underworld” movies, the most recent of which was 2012’s “Underworld Awakening,” which brought in $160 million worldwide for Sony. Lakeshore’s Gary Lucchese and Tom Rosenberg are producers, along with Richard Wright, Andrew Mason and Sidney Kimmel.
“I, Frankenstein” has taken a bumpy road into theaters, and this is its third release date. It was originally set to come out last February, then in September — and it has undergone two format conversions. Filmed in 2012, it was converted to 3D last year, and then remastered in the IMAX format.
The tracking is soft and the social media signs aren’t strong. There aren’t any reviews as it hasn’t been screened for critics, but that’s not typically a factor for fans of the genre.
If “I, Frankenstein” does open at around $10 million, it will be about half of what the “Underworld” movies have done historically. All four debuted with at least $20 million, with the most recent, “Awakening,” opening to $25 million two years ago. Those films were all R-rated, while “I, Frankenstein” is rated PG-13, and that could help.
“It’s subjective of course, but the Frankenstein character seems a much harder sell, even to horror fans,” said Jeff Bock, vice-president and senior analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “The mythology doesn’t capture the imagination the way some other monsters do.”
The “Underworld” movies forged a new mythology surrounding vampires and werewolves, and “I, Frankenstein” takes a similar tack with gargoyles and demons, with Eckhart’s man-monster caught in the middle of a war between the two. It will be in roughly 2,700 theaters, several hundred fewer than the “Underworld” movies rolled out in.
The weekend’s top limited release is “Gimme Shelter,” a troubled teen drama starring Vanessa Hudgens, which Roadside Attractions will have on roughly 350 screens.
Ron Krauss wrote and directed the PG-13 film, in which a pregnant teenager (Hudgens) flees her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) in search of her father (Brendan Fraser), only to be rejected by her dad and forced to survive on the streets.
Of the holdovers films, Paramount’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” appears to have the most to prove. It debuted to $18 million over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
The studio had hopes that it could reboot its franchise based on Tom Clancy’s novels after 12 years with “Shadow Recruit.” But it didn’t attract the young crowd that star Chris Pine has in Paramount’s “Star Trek” movies, putting those plans in jeopardy.
Several Oscar hopefuls have returned to theaters and will continue to look for a box-office bump from their nominations. Fox Searchlight re-released “12 years a Slave” last week and plans to expand it into roughly 1,000 theaters this weekend. Sony’s “American Hustle” and the Weinstein Company’s “August: Osage County” saw the biggest boost last weekend.