After a slow opening month to 2019, business is about to pick up as four wide releases hit the box office this weekend. The biggest of the bunch is Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” the first direct sequel to the 2014 stop-motion animated hit that launched a series of spinoffs in the intervening years.
Independent trackers are projecting an opening of $45-52 million this weekend from 4,276 screens, but analysts and rival distribution chiefs who spoke with TheWrap say that “Lego Movie 2” has a much higher ceiling. Rivals expect the film to earn a $55-60 million start, closer to the $69 million made by the first “Lego Movie.” WB is projecting an opening in the low $50 million range. Regardless of the figure, “Lego Movie 2” will post an opening higher than any release last month, including “Glass,” which opened to $40.2 million
“This is the first big, four-quadrant release of the year,” said Boxoffice Editorial Director Daniel Loria. “There’s no direct competition lined up, and I think audiences are ready for something entertaining after a horribly dull Super Bowl and halftime show.”
“The Lego Movie” earned a domestic run of $257.7 million, while 2017’s “The Lego Batman Movie” grossed $175.7 million. While “Lego Movie 2” has a strong chance to leg out to at least the latter figure, it will face serious competition for family and general audiences after its first two weeks in theaters. On February 22, another family animated film, “How to Train Your Dragon 3,” will arrive in theaters, followed by “Captain Marvel” two weeks later.
Taking place five years after the first film, “The Lego Movie 2” sees Emmett Brickowski (Chris Pratt) go on an adventure to save his friend after they are taken to the Sis-Tar system, which is in reality a playset owned by the sister of the boy who plays with Emmett and his fellow Legos (Brooklynn Prince).
Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Will Ferrell also return from the original cast, being joined by newcomers Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz and Maya Rudolph. Mike Mitchell directed the film from a script written by original “Lego Movie” directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. It currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93 percent.
Also coming out this weekend is Paramount’s “What Men Want,” a loose remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson film “What Women Want.” Starring Taraji P. Henson as a sports agent who gains the ability to read the minds of men, the film is seeing projections that average to a $20 million opening from 2,900 screens with the upper end sitting at $25 million.
The comedy will be Paramount’s second film co-produced by their Paramount Players label, and is directed by Adam Shankman with Will Packer as producer. The studio is projecting a $18-20 million opening.
The third new release is Lionsgate/Summit’s revenge thriller “Cold Pursuit,” starring Liam Neeson as a snowplow driver who goes on a roaring rampage against the drug lord responsible for his son’s death. The film has entered the mainstream for the wrong reasons this week, thanks to Neeson’s account during an interview about how he once considered performing a racist revenge attack after hearing a friend of his was raped.
While the premiere for “Cold Pursuit” has been cancelled in the wake of the public backlash against Neeson, the film’s projections were already low at $7-10 million. At this range, “Cold Pursuit” is on pace to be the lowest wide opening for Neeson since the 2010 film “The Next Three Days,” which opened to $6.5 million. On the other hand, reviews for the film have been strong, as it currently holds a 90 percent RT score.
Finally, Orion Films is releasing the horror film “The Prodigy,” about a mother who discovers his son is possessed by a spirit that grants him great intellect at a diabolical price. The film is projected to finish at the end of the top five this weekend with an opening of $6-7 million, matching the production budget for the film. Orion will also try to bring in hardcore horror fans this weekend by offering the first trailer for the upcoming “Child’s Play” remake, which will be exclusively attached to this title.