Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” expanded wide with $775,000 at the Thursday box office while Liam Neeson’s “The Commuter” earned $700,000.
To compare “The Post” preview numbers, Tom Hanks’ “Bridge of Spies” opened to $500,000 in 2015 and went on to earn $15.4 million, while Mark Wahlberg’s “Patriots Day” grossed $560,000 before opening to $11.6 million its wide opening weekend.
Though the film came up empty handed at the Golden Globes on Sunday (despite Seth Meyers’ joke predicting the opposite) and the Critics Choice Awards on Thursday, the film’s timely story of journalists holding government accountable should give it a strong launch in wide release, with trackers projecting a $20 million four-day haul, with Fox projecting a high teens start from 2,820 screens.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, “The Post” tells the story of how The Washington Post transformed from a local paper for the nation’s capital into a leading national outlet as it fought the Nixon Administration to publish the Pentagon Papers that exposed the lies surrounding the Vietnam War. Hanks and Meryl Streep star as WaPo’s Editor-in-Chief Ben Bradlee and majority owner Kay Graham. Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, and Bradley Whitford also star. Josh Singer, who won an Oscar for his work on “Spotlight,” penned the script with Liz Hannah.
Two other wide releases, “Paddington 2” and “Proud Mary,” are looking at a wide release of $20 million as well. “Paddington 2” grossed $325,000 in previews, compared to the first “Paddington” ($175,000). Warner Bros.’ more conservative projection estimates for the film are $15-17 million from 3,700 screens.
“Paddington 2” sees Ben Whishaw return as the voice of the famed titular bear. Paul King returns to direct the film, as do cast members Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, and Michael Gambon. The film has already made $125 million overseas, including $55 million in Paddington’s country of origin, the U.K.
“Proud Mary,” directed by Babak Najafi, is about a female assassin (Taraji P. Henson) whose life is turned upside down when she takes in a boy (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) she orphaned after a hit job gone wrong. Last year, films with female leads dominated both the cultural conversation and the box office, and women are having a bigger presence in genres usually dominated by men as studios have picked up films like “Atomic Blonde.” “Proud Mary” will be the first of several films in 2018 that will continue this trend, with other top actresses like Alicia Vikander and Sandra Bullock soon to take the screen in “Tomb Raider” and “Ocean’s 8.”
Finally, there’s Lionsgate’s “The Commuter,” Neeson’s latest action film, The film sees Neeson reunite with “Non-Stop” director Jaume Collet-Serra as he plays an insurance agent who gets caught in a deadly conspiracy during a train ride when he is challenged by a stranger to identify a hidden passenger before the train reaches its last stop. The film is projected to make $12-14 million from 2,800 locations this weekend.
All the new wide releases are facing off against strong holdover “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which has grossed over $250 million at the domestic box office since its opening on Dec. 20.