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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

With “Fifty Shades of Grey” dominating so completely last weekend—$85M 3-day, $93M 4-day—the best February opener of all-time will easily remain on top for another session, despite three new movies in the marketplace.

Although the drop will likely be massive (“Sex and the City” fell off -62% in its 2nd go-round) it still should see around $30M+ and has already grossed $300M+ worldwide. So don’t get your panties in a bunch, there will be sequels, you perv.

Disney’s “McFarland, USA,” Lionsgate’s “The Duff” and Paramount’s “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” are all interesting distractions but none arrive with much buzz beyond a one-and-done weekend, and none will overshadow the Oscar’s big night

In fact, with “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “SpongeBob 2” also performing well over President’s Day weekend, it’s possible that the top three films will remain the same while the newbies all fall a bit flat. With none of them in more than 2,800+ theaters that’s actually a distinct possibility.

Even without John Cusack, “HTTM2” looks to be the best of the bunch and could see a box office bubble of around $15M. The original opened in March of 2010 with $14M, but saw a lot of traction in home markets, which completely justifies the skimpy $14M budget for the sequel—less than half of the original.

What I loved about the original was that it was finally a return to zany comedies for Cusack, who has steered away from the genre since his brilliant 80’s silliness, which saw him absolutely crush it in “Better Off Dead,” “Say Anything” and “The Sure Thing.”

Nowadays, he’s mostly a straight-to-Redbox kinda guy, showing up in quirky dramas and lame-brain action flicks. Too bad he didn’t return for another cycle, although Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation,” “Party Down”) is a great addition.

Although it’s technically not a sequel, Disney has been making based-on-a-true-story sports dramas like “McFarland, USA” back when Annette Funicello was still a member of the Mickey Mouse Club.

Kevin Costner is the big head on the poster and steps into the coach role with sophisticated ease.  Hopefully he’ll help it connect with audiences better than Disney’s last film of this ilk, this past spring’s “Million Dollar Arm” with Jon Hamm.

We’ll see if a Disney film marketed squarely to a Latino fan base can connect. If so, it might see slightly higher dividends than the $12M it’s expected to track down.  Luckily, Disney only invested $17M, so this should run away into the fields of profitability…eventually.

Like a lowly freshman on the first day of high school, CBS Films’ “The Duff,” which Lionsgate is distributing, looks like it will be duct-taped to the ceiling this weekend as the PG-13 teen tale isn’t expected to clear $10M.

Still, with a modest budget of $8.5M, if “The Duff” can hang around theaters, it could see a small profit.

The title is an acronym: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Hilarity ensues. It so wants to be the next “Clueless,” but unfortunately nothing ever is. Fingers crossed that this is better than the usual teen slop that infiltrates theaters this time of year.

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Fifty Shades of Grey – $32M
  2. Kingsman: The Secret Service – $21M
  3. SpongeBob 2 – $15M
  4. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 – $13M
  5. McFarland, USA – $12M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK – Warner Bros. “Crimson Peak” (Oct. 16, 2015)

Guierrmo Del Toro hasn’t done a horror flick for nearly a decade with “Pan’s Labyrinth,” so it’s nice to see him return to the genre he so clearly loves.

Once filmmakers are issued their blockbuster card, it’s not often they return to their roots. Lucky for us, “Crimson Peak” looks like the maestro of mayhem is in prime form, delivering a pic that’s chock full of chills and bloody drippin’ spills.

Like it or not, he’ll be gone from the horror circuit for some time after this as “Pacific Rim 2” and “Hellboy 3” are on the docket next.

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK – WB’s Int’l Trailer “Mad Max: Fury Road” (May 15, 2015)

Sorry, I just can’t get enough of this George Miller’s testosterone-laden, balls-to-the-walls, reboot to the head. This is going to be beyond full-tilt epic. Forget everything you know about action flicks…this looks like a reboot of the entire genre.

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COSTNER CUT OF THE WEEK – Universal’s “WaterWorld” 

I apologize, but c’mon, this is the best trailer of all time, of any time. Soak it in, folks.

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“ALIEN” FRANCHISE RE-HATCHED BY NEILL BLOMKAMP

There’s no denying Neill Blomkamp knows lo-fi, sci-fi. With “District 9,” “Elysium” and soon “Chappie” it’s clear he is a huge fan of the genre. Which makes him the perfect candidate to re-impregnate Fox’s “Alien” franchise, one that has always worked better when sticking to the nuts and bolts of squeamish squalor and deep, dark despair.

His grittiness and realism should make this new iteration a supremely worthwhile endeavor. Now if the folks at Star Wars would just hire him for one of their stand-alone missions.

Blomkamp posted on social media saying he was on board, promising the “Alien” film will be his next up. And as a bonus: Sigourney Weaver is apparently in, too. Now if we could just get Ian Holm (the original android) to confirm.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“50 Shades of Grey” Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures ; Poster design by Iconisus L&Y – Visual Communication Systems