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‘Rampage’ Stomps Into Theaters in Need of Big Overseas Launch

Blumhouse also returns with ”Truth Or Dare“ while Wes Anderson’s ”Isle of Dogs“ goes nationwide

After a weekend defined by genre pieces, the new release list has returned to CGI-heavy blockbusters looking for big bucks in Asia. Warner Bros., which is still hauling in studio record returns from China with “Ready Player One,” will now send in New Line’s “Rampage,” the next film from Dwayne Johnson after “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” grossed $950 million worldwide this winter.

At a time when fewer and fewer actors and directors are drawing in moviegoers while the emphasis gets put on franchises and brands, Johnson has defiantly stood against the trend. Even when he’s had a few disappointments like “Baywatch,” he’s rebounded quickly with films like “Jumanji,” which became Sony’s highest grossing film in studio history outside of the “Spider-Man” franchise.

But even with The Rock, “Rampage” is going to need help from overseas as it is expected to gross $35-40 million domestically this weekend against a reported $115 million budget. The film stars Johnson as a biologist who must calm his companion albino gorilla when a strange contagion turns it, a wolf, and a crocodile into giant beasts who destroy the city. In other words, this is a kaiju film, a genre that is popular in Asia. It’s especially popular in Japan, where the film has some rather boisterous marketing. 

But to achieve that success, “Rampage” will have to do better than “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” another kaiju film that was released nearly three weekends ago to a global opening of $150 million, but after which has seen a sharp drop in receipts. Currently holding a global total of $262 million, it’s becoming more and more likely that the sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s film will wind up in the red.

On the other hand, a more successful result for “Rampage” would be if it could reach $400 million overseas, something the studio came just a couple million close to reaching last year with their previous giant ape film, “Kong: Skull Island.” That film made $168 million in China, $398 million total overseas, and $566.6 million worldwide. “Kong: Skull Island” had a domestic opening of $61 million, so “Rampage” won’t likely reach that global mark. But if Asia responds to “Rampage” the way it did to Kong, it could find profit.

Based on the classic 80s video game, “Rampage” is directed by Brad Peyton (“San Andreas”) and also stars  Naomie Harris, Malin ?…kerman, Joe Manganiello, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. New Line Cinema produced the film.

The other new release this week is “Truth Or Dare,” the latest film from Universal and Blumhouse. The film is expected to open to $12-15 million, meaning it will most likely fall on the charts below last weekend’s big horror hit, “A Quiet Place.”

Still, “Truth Or Dare” has two big things going for it. First, Blumhouse has built a very strong audience of young, female moviegoers, which helped boost the numbers of several of their past horror titles like “Split” and “Happy Death Day.”

The other big advantage is Blumhouse’s now-industry-famous microbudget approach to filmmaking, never spending more than $5 million on a film unless its a sequel to a proven franchise launcher. With a production budget of $3.5 million, “Truth Or Dare” won’t need to make much to get into the black.

“Truth Or Dare” stars Lucy Hale as a teenager who, along with her friends, is haunted by a malevolent spirit who forces them to play the titular game with deadly consequences. Jeff Wadlow (“Kick-Ass 2”) directed the film from a script by Michael Reisz, with Jason Blum producing.

Finally, Fox Searchlight will expand Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” to 1930 screens nationwide after three weekends in limited release. Last weekend, the film made $4.6 million from 554 screens bringing its total to $12.3 million. Searchlight projects the film will make an additional $5 million this weekend, bringing it closer to the $20 million mark.

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