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Movie News – Got Triskaidekaphobia?

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Box Office Brasserie – Movie News For Movie Lovers

“Death” Is Inevitable

They say doing something over and over and getting the same result is the definition of insanity. Well, for Jason Blum and his Blumhouse of horror hits factory, they must be completely insane in the membrane with the amount of success they’ve had recently.

No bones about it, it’s been a scary good ride, culminating with “Get Out” and “Split” in 2017, which have racked up  $253M and $278M worldwide.  And here’s the really frightening thing—they managed those ridiculous numbers on a combined budget of less than $15M.

Blumhouse’s latest, “Happy Death Day,” arrives on Friday the 13th and prospects couldn’t be darker for the $5M flick. Pure black, in fact.  No doubt the PG-13 chill pill with the “Groundhog Day” vibe will be “in the black” after opening weekend—if not opening day—as Blumhouse usually gets their films out of the red faster than any other production company these days…shooting directly into the mainstream vein of mass appeal.

With budgets routinely under $10M, Blumhouse has reinvigorated the horror genre, making the studio rich in the process, and now firmly atop the terrordome. Why Universal continues to troll around in the “Dark Universe” is one of the great mysteries of filmdom (filmdumb?), when what they should be doing is shackling up Blumhouse in the basement under Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” house.

Lock them down now, as Blumhouse could easily start their own studio after that 10-year, first-look deal expires.

“Happy Death Day” may not have the overall critical appeal that “Get Out” and “Split” did, but teens and the date crowd will still show up, as will the college crowd.  Oddsmakers have the terror time loop unspooling in 3,100+ venues with over $20M+, which will easily be enough to snatch the #1 spot from last week’s top flick, “Blade Runner 2049.”

Also on the wide release, docket of death is STX’s action flick, “The Foreigner,” starring Jackie Chan, Open Road’s biopic on the first African American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, titled, “Marshall,” and Annapurna’s Wonder Woman backstory, “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.”

STX knows it’s not the late 1990s, right? Remember when “Rumble in the Bronx” was imported to North America and it unexpectedly lit up theaters?  What followed was a decade of hits—both imported and exported—from the Chinese martial arts superstar. That was 20 years ago.

Sure, his latest films still make beaucoup bucks in Asia; however, they also have him starring opposite Johnny Knoxville (“Skiptrace”) and barely—if at all—receiving a stateside release these days.  The only flicks that make money in the current North American marketplace have him cloaked in 3D modeling—voicing cute and feisty animals in animated films.

Inexplicably, Pierce Brosnan is his co-star, who’s never really been able to open a movie above $10M+ without slipping into that tux and sipping martinis.

I’m pretty sure most audiences expect a film like “The Foreigner” to pop up on Netflix, not in theaters, but then again, the $35M film wasn’t made for western audiences, as evidenced by the fact it’s already grossed $74M overseas.

Notably, this is director Martin Campbell’s first film since 2011’s disastrous “Green Lantern.” Previously, he directed Brosnan in “Goldeneye” and also helmed “Casino Royale.”

In 2,500+ theaters, the R-rated chop-em-up, shoot-em-up may string up around $8M, but with the highly aggressive marketing campaign STX has showcased, that’s a big-time lose-lose.

No doubt Chadwick Boseman will get his day in the sun when he launches Marvel’s much-anticipated “Black Panther” in February. But for now, fans will have to settle for seeing him in academic circles with Open Road’s drama, “Marshall,” which drops in just 800+ theaters.

Notably, Reginald Hudlin (“House Party,” “Boomerang”) directs, for the first time in fifteen years. By the way, “House Party” started as a thesis project at Harvard. Yes, you read that correctly.

The PG-13 biopic of Thurgood Marshall focuses on one of his early cases. However, the trailer makes it seem awfully run-of-the-mill, often using racial tropes we’ve seen far too many times before, and even throwing in a rap song to connect it all together, which seems woefully out of place here.

“Marshall” was made for $12M, so it’s not a huge risk, but Open Road Films hasn’t done a very thorough job marketing the film, either. Look for around $3M this weekend.

And while it may seem like jumping on the coattails of this summer’s mega-successful superhero flick, “Professor Marston and His Wonder Women” is a R-rated period piece set in the 1940s investigating “Wonder Woman” creator, American psychologist William Marston, and his unusual—at the time—relations with the fairer sex.

Feminists unite! Feminists march! Hmm. What exactly  should feminists do, here? Is this a good thing or a bad thing that an icon for women was created by a man? And, of course, she runs around in a bathing suit. Guess you better watch and find out for yourself.

Angela Robinson writes and directs, as she previously did with her best work, “D.E.B.S.”

Not sure that a wide release is fitting for a film of this nature, but Annapurna is going for it in 1,200+ theaters. Unfortunately, the new distribution unit hasn’t had much success yet, as “Detroit” and “Brad’s Status” both underperformed.

“Professor Marston” may lasso $2.5M, but then again, it may be invisible in theaters this weekend.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight also delves into written history by exploring “Winnie-the-Pooh” author A.A. Milne, in “Goodbye, Christopher Robin.” Simon Curtis directs (“My Week with Marilyn,” “Woman in Gold”) while Margot Robbie and Domhnall Gleeson star.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Happy Death Day – $24M
  2. Blade Runner 2049 – $15M
  3. The Foreigner – $8M
  4. It – $6.5M
  5. The Mountain Between Us – $6M

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GALACTIC CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Dec. 15, 2017)

LucasFilm could have sold tickets to the trailer in theaters—that’s how popular this franchise is right now.  Is it good? Is it bad? Does it matter? This will be the highest grossing film of 2017, without question, and one of the largest of all-time.

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GALACTIC MISFIRE OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Pacific Rim: Uprising” (Mar. 23, 2018)

The problem with sequels lately is that they haven’t been up to the task of even attempting to be better than the original. Truth is, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 original didn’t quite get it right, either–the cast wasn’t quite right, the story wasn’t quite right, and it never really came together, barely eking out $100M in the US and $400M worldwide. That would be fine if your budget wasn’t $200M, but combined with a massive P/A campaign, the entire event was a big let down.

Those sort of issues have never stopped Universal from going ahead with a half-baked sequel before, and by the looks of it, “Uprising” was undercooked from the get-go.

The studio definitely combed through the Erector Set School of Filmmaking–gathering pieces of popular films and fusing them together.  It’s an unwatchable mash up of “Transformers,” “Fast & Furious,” and, unfortunately for everyone, “Power Rangers.” The trailer has it all: cheesy voice over, guitar riff, rap song, and the most cliched speech you’ll ever hear someone make leading troops into battle. If I heard that speech, I’d drop my weapon and say, “peace out.” Which is what everyone involved with this should have done.

This is Exhibit A for 2018 as to why audiences hate sequels. Asia, you’re its only hope.

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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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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com