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Movie News – Who Joined The Wrong Rebellion This Weekend?

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BOX OFFICE BRASSERIE – MOVIE NEWS FOR MOVIE LOVERS

A Rogue’s Gallery

The chosen one has arrived, and will bring balance to the box office force.

However, with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” set to blast off with over $150M+ this weekend, the cinematic alliance of competing films will be slain like Darth Vader unleashed on a bunch of rookie rebels trying to hold down the fort with blasters.

That’s bad news for Will Smith, as he attempts to subterfuge audiences with sentimentality delivering his latest, “Collateral Beauty,” as counterprogramming. Bad news: he joined the wrong rebellion.

In 4,100+ theaters “Rogue One” looks to capitalize on the $4 billion investment Disney made in the Star Wars Universe by dangling a carrot in front of audiences that made “The Force Awakens” a $2B hit, delivering the first of many spin-offs that will turn Star Wars into a Marvel-like entity.

Should do the trick as Disney is estimating a debut of anywhere between $130M-$150M, although most analysts are going even higher, $150M+ and beyond. I’ve even seen estimates upwards of $200M.

The truth is, “Rogue One” doesn’t have the firepower of “The Force Awakens,” which debuted with an all-time best, $247M a year ago. Simply put, it isn’t equipped with the unbridled build up of 30 years of waiting for a true sequel to “Return of the Jedi.”

But could it do $200M? I suppose so, but honestly just can’t see it. “The Force Awakens” was a phenomenon that was built up by decades of fandom frustrations…millions of voices crying out in instant joy over an installment that was—hallelujah—exciting and entertaining.

The same type of enthusiasm regarding overdue installments was apparent with the releases of “The Avengers” and “Jurassic World”—the only other two films to deliver $200M+ debuts.

So, $150M, or around $100M less than “The Force Awakens” seems like a good place to start for the stand-alone film, which will undoubtedly clean up over the holidays and into the new year as it’s really the only action film of its kind.

It certainly won’t have the staying power of “The Force Awakens,” though, as that film turned out to be the #1 domestic release of all time, earning $923M. Still, “Rogue One” could easily do more than half that and still walk away as the top movie released in 2016, blasting past “Finding Dory” which has grossed $486M.

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

The words famously echoed by C3P-0 and now his counterpart, the equally pessimistic yet much more abrasive, K-2S0, are now WB’s mantra as “Collateral Beauty”—a title I can’t even remember seconds after I write it—seems destined to be rancor food.

It’s like a lone Ewok going up against an imperial AT-AT. That sound you hear is—SQUOOSH. Followed by a contingent of Ewoks singing their happy-death celebration song.

In 2,900 theaters, and savagely beaten down by critics to the tune of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Collateral Beauty” may show the ill effects of counterprogramming collateral damage, debuting with just $10M, which would be one of Smith’s worst.

What Warner Bros. was probably hoping for was something like Smith’s “Pursuit of Happyness,” which went on to score $163M domestic and over $300M worldwide a decade ago.

Times have changed. And even though Hallmark Channel audiences are out there in force, they can rarely be pried away from their TVs. And, let’s be honest, Smith isn’t the box office savior he once was.

The biggest story of last weekend was “La La Land” landing with $881k in just 5 theaters, $176k per—the second best per theater average for a live-action film of all-time, behind Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” ($202k per).

The musical also scored the most Golden Globe nominations of any 2016 film, with seven, followed closely by A24’s “Moonlight” with six and Roadside Attractions’ “Manchester By the Sea” with five.

This weekend, wunderkind director Damien Chazelle’s Oscar frontrunner expands into 200+ venues, where it will be in full bloom, transforming into the true counterprogramming star of the weekend, and catapulting an original musical into the Top 10—it’s been an awfully long time since Hollywood has seen that happen.

Also expanding into wide release is Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester By the Sea,” which will light up an estimated 1,200+ screens. Last weekend, in limited release in 366 theaters, the R-rated drama netted $3.1M in eighth place.

Debuting in exclusive release is Denzel Washington’s drama, “Fences,” which Paramount will release in just four theaters before expanding wide on Christmas day.

No one plays a hard-ass better than Denzel, no one.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Rogue One – $168M
  2. Moana – $11M
  3. Collateral Beauty – $10M
  4. Office Christmas Party – $9M
  5. La La Land – $7M

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “The War for the Planet of the Apes” (July 14, 2007)

Those damn, dirty apes are back…and this time, it’s war. These are always better than expected and this looks to be no exception. And, c’mon, how can the humans lose with Woody Harrelson leading the charge?!?

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CHOICE WHAAAAAAT?! OF THE WEEK: Universal’s “Despicable Me 3” (June 30, 2017)

Um. I think someone needs to tell the folks at Universal that the reason this franchise is so BA-NA-NAS is…MINIONS.  That’s cool that Trey Parker is in the film, but no one cares, except maybe his agent, manager, and hetero life mate, Matt Stone. Think it over, then go ahead and add more MINIONS to the next trailer…and less of everything else.

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CHINTZY CUT OF THE WEEK: Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious” (April 14, 2017)

Yes, “Fast & Furious 8” is officially titled “The Fate of the Furious.” Listen, it won’t be the worst title in a franchise that will likely stay on course for another dozen sequels if Vin Diesel gives the green light.

In this one, it looks like Diesel has gone rogue. Well, what else were they gonna do? I mean, they can’t just go to new places, fight new bad guys and race cars on new surfaces, like say, ice, can they? Audiences are way too savvy for those kind of cheap thrills. Wait, did I say ice, like Ice Road Truckers? I’m totally in for some of that action.

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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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Poster Image Courtesy of Disney; Poster Design By B O N D

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