Can Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson bring moviegoers back to theaters this weekend? What about Daniel Craig with a thick Southern accent? Based on the tracking for Lionsgate’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” and Bleecker Street/Fingerprint’s “Logan Lucky,” the answer seems to be “not likely.”
Independent trackers are projecting “Hitman’s Bodyguard” to have the bigger weekend with $17-20 million from 3,350 screens, with Lionsgate projecting a $15 million opening. The action comedy was first screened at CinemaCon back in the spring, with Lionsgate heavily promoting Reynolds and Jackson’s lead performances as a team up between two Marvel movie veterans. But critics who have submitted early reviews haven’t all been sold on the Nick Fury/Deadpool alliance, as the film currently has a 50 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 16 reviews submitted.
“Logan Lucky,” meanwhile, has received much better critical reception with a running score of 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but is currently tracking for an opening of $7-9 million from 2,500 screens against a reported budget of $29 million. Marketing for “Logan Lucky” has been lower than one might expect for a film with several recognizable stars including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and the aforementioned Daniel Craig. But this is due in large part to director Steven Soderbergh, who previously announced his retirement after making his last film, “Side Effects” in 2013, but came back to make this heist comedy.
In an interview with The New York Times, Soderbergh says he devised a model with former Warner Bros. exec Dan Fellman that allowed them to reach a deal with Bleecker Street. In it, the marketing budget would be largely restricted to funds earned from post-theatrical distribution sales (Amazon, airlines, HBO, etc.). Bleecker Street would receive a small fee for distributing the film and would only receive a portion of the box office if the film reaches certain thresholds.
Soderbergh explained that with this model, an opening weekend of $15 million would be considered a success, but if trackers are any indication, “Logan Lucky” will have to beat industry expectations to hit that target. Bleecker Street will be looking for strong turnout from the Southeast U.S., where the film takes place and where it will have extra appeal with NASCAR as a major plot point and several top drivers like Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski making surprise, Stan Lee-esque cameos throughout.
“Logan Lucky” stars Tatum and Driver as two down-on-their-luck brothers who, along with fugitive career thief Joe Bang (Craig), hatch a plan to steal $14 million from Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR schedule. The film also stars Seth McFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, and Hilary Swank. Tatum is producing with Reid Carolin, Mark Johnson, and Gregory Jacobs.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” features Ryan Reynolds as a federal agent tasked with guarding the life of Darius Kincaid, a top hitman who just happens to be his mortal enemy (Jackson). After locking horns, they reluctantly work together to stop a power-hungry Eastern European dictator (Gary Oldman) with the help of Darius’ equally infamous wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek). Patrick Hughes directed the film from a script by Tom O’Connor. Producers are David Ellison, Mark Gill, Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson, and Les Weldon.