Hollywood studios will release a flurry of mid-budget films from all across the genre spectrum over the next several weeks. But don’t expect any more big opening weekends until “It Chapter Two” next month, as the remainder of August will likely see openings well under $30 million.
With that in mind, “Hobbs & Shaw” would seem likely to coast to another No. 1 finish. But some of the newcomers have a chance to steal the top spot should the “Fast & Furious” spinoff have a larger-than-expected second-weekend drop. Monday grosses were not a good sign at $5.8 million, a 63% drop from the film’s $15.8 million Sunday gross.
Analysts who spoke with TheWrap pointed to Paramount’s “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” as the film with the best chance of a possible No. 1 opening. Directed by James Bobin and produced by Paramount Players and Nickelodeon Movies, the film is a slightly more mature but still family friendly spin on the “Dora the Explorer” preschool TV series, as Dora (Isabela Moner) teams up with her cousin Diego and a strange jungle inhabitant (Jeff Wahlberg and Eugenio Derbez) to rescue her captured parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña).
Releasing on 3,500 screens, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is projected by Paramount for a $15 million opening, though analysts say that an opening in the low $20 million range is possible if family audiences choose it as a late summer outing over Disney holdovers like “The Lion King.”
Also projected for a mid-to-high teens opening is Lionsgate’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” an adaptation of the young adult horror anthology series produced by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by André Øvredal. Lionsgate will release the film on 3,000 screens, with CBS Films and eOne producing.
But Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock is skeptical over whether “Scary Stories” will be able to perform outside of hardcore horror audiences and the cult millennial fanbase of the original books. He points to the film’s marketing, which he says hasn’t done enough over the last two weeks to build audience interest in the face of more popular films like “Hobbs & Shaw.”
“Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of underperforming on the charts this weekend,” Bock said. “There’s been very little of the sort of rise in audience interest that studios want to see with their films as release draws nearer. I don’t think the marketing on any of the August films after ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ has really worked at all.”
As an example, Bock also points to Warner Bros./New Line’s “The Kitchen,” which is the directorial debut of “Straight Outta Compton” screenwriter Andrea Berloff and the first major dramatic role for Tiffany Haddish since her comedy breakthrough. Based on the acclaimed Vertigo graphic novel, “The Kitchen” stars Haddish, Elisabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy who take over their mobster husbands’ business after they are sent to jail.
Though it features an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and three lead stars with name recognition, “The Kitchen” is getting released on only 2,745 screens, the smallest wide release of Melissa McCarthy’s career. Opening estimates are currently being projected around $9-14 million, which would be similar to last year’s disappointing result for “Widows.” Also featuring women in the usually male-dominated crime genre, “Widows” only opened to $12 million and made just $75 million worldwide against a $42 million budget.
Finally, there’s Fox’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which tells the story of an aspiring F1 driver (Milo Ventimiglia) through the eyes of his dog (voiced by Kevin Costner). Early reviews have been tepid with a 57% Rotten Tomatoes score, and the film is currently projected for a $6-8 million opening from 2,700 screens.
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is shaping up to be the latest in a series of duds from Fox, both before and after the completion of its acquisition by Disney. “Alita: Battle Angel” needed overseas help to make back its budget, while other 2019 Fox films like “The Kid Who Would Be King” and “Dark Phoenix” have tanked at the box office. And in its earnings call on Tuesday, Disney reported a $170 million operating loss from Fox’s film division.