‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ May Dethrone ‘Black Panther,’ But It Needs Overseas Boost

Though sequel to 2013 kaiju movie will take No. 1 this weekend, it will depend on international audiences to turn a profit

Pacific Rim Uprising

After five weekends, “Black Panther” is expected to finally concede the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office to “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” Universal and Legendary’s sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster pitting giant robots against enormous undersea monsters.

But for this ode to Japanese kaiju movies to make a profit, it’s going to need a big boost from overseas markets like the first film did. Five years ago, Warner Bros. released “Pacific Rim” with a $190 million production budget. Domestically, the film opened to $37.2 million, taking third place on the charts behind sequels to “Despicable Me” and “Grown Ups.” The film went on to make $101.8 million in the U.S.

But “Pacific Rim” was able to become del Toro’s highest grossing movie thanks to strong performance overseas, especially in Asia, where much of the film took place. The film made $111.9 million in China, followed by $20.6 million in Russia, $18.1 million in South Korea, and $14.5 million in Japan. It also found success in the U.K. with $12.7 million and del Toro’s home country of Mexico, where it made $16.1 million.

In total, “Pacific Rim” made $411 million, earning it cult status and prompting Universal to green light this sequel with Steven DeKnight in the director’s chair and del Toro returning as producer. “Uprising” will need to have just as strong overseas performance as its predecessor did, as trackers only expect the film to make about $25 million domestically. The film opens day and date in 62 markets this weekend, and is currently holding a 65 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

Taking place a decade after the first film, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” follows Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost, the leader of the anti-kaiju forces who sacrificed his life to stop their invasion of Earth. Now monsters are starting to return through to Earth, forcing Jake to live up to his father’s name and stop both the monsters and the traitor that allowed them to return in the first place.

DeKnight is directing from a script co-written by Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin.  Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, and Adria Arjona star in the film, with Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman returning from the original film. The series made the jump from WB to Universal after Legendary Pictures signed a five-year distribution deal with Universal in 2014.

Also releasing this weekend is Paramount’s animated film “Sherlock Gnomes,” the sequel to the 2011 film “Gnomeo & Juliet.” It is expected to open this weekend in the low teens from 3,660 locations. “Gnomeo and Juliet” grossed just under $100 million domestically and $193 million worldwide.

Opening on 2,000 screens is “Midnight Sun,” a teen romance film starring Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger which was originally a title from Open Road Films but which is now being released by the rebranded Global Road Entertainment. Open Road acquired the domestic distribution rights for the film in October 2016 before it in turn was acquired by Tang Media Group last August. “Midnight Sun” is expected to open to $4-6 million this weekend.

Finally, opening in limited release this weekend is Fox Searchlight’s “Isle of Dogs,” the latest film from Wes Anderson. Following a pack of dogs exiled to an island of trash by a corrupt Japanese mayor, the film opens on 27 screens this weekend in six cities and will expand to 150 screens next weekend. Anderson’s last film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” made $59 million domestically and $174 million worldwide in 2014.