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‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Kicks Off 2018 Box Office With Uphill Battle Against ‘Star Wars’

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, ”Molly’s Game,“ also expands nationwide this week

Universal and Blumhouse will kick off the 2018 box office with “Insidious: The Last Key,” the fourth installment in one of Blumhouse’s most profitable horror franchises. The film is projected to make $20 million in its opening weekend from 3,000 screens, with Universal projecting a start in the mid-teens. To date, the “Insidious” franchise has grossed $372 million worldwide.

Universal is sending this film in after a 2017 that saw it earn $5 billion worldwide, including $1.5 billion domestically. While the international success came primarily off the back of tried-and-tested franchises like “Despicable Me 3” and “The Fate of the Furious,” Universal’s domestic profits came from a diverse set of films, including three Blumhouse titles released as part of the studio’s first-look deal.

That deal became the talk of the movie industry this time last year, as Blumhouse surprised everyone with M. Night Shymalan’s “Split,” which earned a $40 million opening and a $138 million domestic total against a $9 million budget. In February, Blumhouse followed that up with “Get Out,” which earned critical acclaim and became an early populist awards contender with a $175 million domestic total after a $33 million opening.

In both cases, these films proved to be long-lasting at theaters at a time of year that was once considered a quiet period for movie theaters. While “Insidious: The Last Key” is unlikely to challenge for the No. 1 spot this weekend with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” continuing to dominate the charts and propel what has been a very strong holiday season, but a strong multiple is still a possible goal for this film.

“Insidious: The Last Key” sees Lin Shaye return as as Dr. Elise Rainer as her haunted childhood comes to threaten her family and home. Series co-creator Leigh Whannell wrote the film, with newcomer Adam Robitel (“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension”) directing.

Meanwhile, STX will expand Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut from 271 screens to 1,500 this weekend. The film has made $6.5 million since its Christmas Day launch for a per screen average of just under $24,000, and the film is expected to match that amount this weekend with $6-7 million. Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner, the film tells the true story of Molly Bloom and how she created the biggest underground poker game in Los Angeles and New York. It scored an A- on CinemaScore and an 80 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.