Moviegoers will get a jump on Halloween this weekend, when Universal rolls out its spooky board game adaptation “Ouija” on Friday.
The teen-targeting PG-13 horror movie is expected to scare up around $20 million, say the analysts, and knock the Brad Pitt war saga “Fury” out of the top spot.
Lionsgate’s Keanu Reeves assassin thriller “John Wick” is projected to open just under $10 million, and the Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy comedy “St. Vincent” should be in the same range in an aggressive nationwide expansion by the Weinstein Company.
Six years ago, “Ouija” was envisioned as a tentpole movie, with Brad Fuller and Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes producing and McG attached to direct. After a series of script rewrites on the project inspired by Hasbro’s classic spirit board, Universal decided to skip the risk associated with a blockbuster’s budget. But after Jason Blum revived “Ouija” as a micro-budgeted teen movie, the studio came back in 2012 is producing along with Bay, Fuller, and the toymaker.
That decision is looking pretty good right now, since “Ouija” should triple its $5 million production budget in its first three days. The release date seems ideal — this is the time of year when even mainstream moviegoers will seek out a horror movie, and it should also play well next weekend.
The cast lacks A-listers, but features several young TV stars including Daren Kagasoff (“Secret Life of an American Teenager”), Bianca Santos (“The Fosters”), Douglas Smith (“Big Love”), Olivia Cooke (“Bates Motel”), along with Ana Coto. Stiles White (“The Possession”) directs, and co-wrote with Juliet Snowden.
“Ouija” is looking very strong on Twitter and Facebook, and was leading ticket sales Wednesday morning at online ticket broker Fandango. Universal will have it in 2,856 theaters.
Also read: ‘Ouija’ Movie Back On at Universal
“John Wick” is that rarest of all films — a Keanu Reeves movie that the critics love. The R-rated tale of a retired hitman who comes out of retirement when gangsters kill his dog is still at 100 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes.
Former stunt man David Leitch and Chad Stahelski direct “John Wick,” and its cast includes Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Michael Nyqvist, Bridgete Moynahan, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane. Thunder Road Pictures, MJW Films and Summit Entertainment teamed on the film, which is produced by Basil Iwanyk (“The Expendables”) and Mike Witherill.
If “John Wick” can hit $10 million it will top the debut of Reeves’ last movie, the big-budget bomb “47 Ronin.”
It is doing OK on social media ahead of “The November Man” on Twitter but trailing the Pierce Brosnan spy tale on Facebook, which opened to nearly $8 million in August. Lionsgate will have it in roughly 2,400 theaters.
Chernin Entertainment’s “St. Vincent” will be in more than 2,000 theaters as of Friday. It’s been in limited release for the past two weekends, initially in four locations and then 68 in its second, so this weekend’s rollout is an unusually aggressive expansion.
“It’s been playing really strongly, particularly in the suburbs, so we decided to go for it,” Lomis said. “There’s not a lot like it out there in the marketplace, and the demand (from theater owners) was there.”
“St. Vincent” averaged $27,400 in its four-theater opening two weeks ago, and a very solid $9,788 in 68 theaters last weekend.
“St. Vincent” features Murray as a grumpy war veteran enlisted by a single mother (McCarthy) to watch over her 12-year-old son. Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd and Scott Adsit. It’s written and directed by Theodore Melfi.