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Can Creed Topple The Good Dinosaur?

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

It was thirty years ago this very weekend that my family and I were sitting around the breakfast nook at my grandma’s house looking through the film ads in this thing that people once called a “newspaper,” getting ready to make that tough very tough decision every family faces: Which movie to see?

There was really only one choice that year: “Rocky IV.”  My brother and I had been bombarded by jingoism and a campaign that saw a bloody Rocky Balboa draped in the American flag and it was just too much to resist.

It was our patriotic duty to go.  Needless to say, despite my grandma likely pleading for “Santa Claus: The Movie,” my brother and I, as good Americans, won out.

But we didn’t do it for us, we did it for our country. My grandma stayed home and probably watched the local news instead.

The year was 1985…”War Games” had already made a deep impression on me a couple years prior, as I truly believed global nuclear thermal war was imminent.  U.S.A. vs. U.S.S.R was always a hot-plate issue. Only one person could break through the tension: Rocky Balboa.

His fists made it seem possible that we could actually win the Cold War. That, and Drago was more machine than man. We outsmarted the machines in “War Games” and we beat down Russia’s finest with our fists. USA! USA! USA!

Sure, Apollo Creed was the sacrificial lamb, as he died an honorable death at the hands of Drago; but guess what, thirty years later, we get redemption…in the form of “Rocky VII,” otherwise known as “Creed.”

Director Ryan Coogler, whose breakout hit, “Fruitvale Station” turned a lot of heads in Hollywood, took a big risk shouldering the Rocky franchise. Most of the time, when a studio jumps on a hot, new young talent, they throw sequels and spinoffs at them, and inevitably the films turn into a pile of [noun].

“Creed” rings the bell in 3,350+ theaters–the most ever for a Rocky flick. Right film, right time.  Besides Rocky being a American icon, the film itself is an obvious cross-over to African-American audiences. Coupled with overwhelmingly positive reviews–yes, better than both “The Danish Girl” and “The Good Dinosaur”–it should play really well this weekend.

Expect a solid box office blow of $25M-$30M for the 3-day and possibly upwards of $50M for the 5-day span–which more than covers the $35M price tag.

Pixar had its streak of #1 openings derailed this summer by the pesky dinosaurs of “Jurassic World”; however,  that won’t be the case this weekend as “The Good Dinosaur” should easily top “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2,” as it debuted with a franchise-low, $102M.

Yeah, yeah, so it ONLY made $100M, I’ve never seen such disappointment for a $100M opener. Such is the box office world we’re living in, folks.

“Mockingjay Pt.2” will likely drop -55% or so, leaving it with around $45M, while Pixar’s latest should shoot upwards of $50M for starters and possibly $70M for the extended holiday as it stomps into 3,700+ venues.

Interestingly, “The Good Dinosaur” is the first time Pixar has released two films in the same calendar year, and it’s also the first film they actually stopped production on for quite some time, and hired a new director for, as the third act just wasn’t coming together.

Funny thing is, they were very public about it. Typical Pixar…making all the right moves. Yes, this cost an incredible amount to make–$200M–but yes it will easily make $500M+ worldwide and spawn a number of spin-offs and merch opportunities. There’s plenty of oil in them thar hills, folks.

There’s always a turkey on Thanksgiving. That’s how Abraham Lincoln wanted it. Fox’s “Victor Frankenstein” provides that payoff for that joke; however, budgeted at $40M it shouldn’t be an out-and-out disaster like we’ve come to expect year-in and year-out.

That said, both “I, Frankenstein” and Kenneth Branagh’s “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” were both pretty much both DOA when they debuted with $8M and $11M respectively. Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts…they…got…screwed. Neither of them were cheap to make, although both films did considerably more business overseas (70%+), where Frank still seems to have some pull. That will probably be the case here, too.

On 2,700+ screens, expect a relatively lifeless debut of $10M or so and $14M for the 5-day holiday. Still, James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe look to be having a lot of fun on screen. Hopefully, there will be more life to this than expected.

Also, Fox Searchlight’s “Brooklyn” expands into wide release in over 800+ venues, after three weeks of solid grosses that saw it enter the Top 12 last weekend with $1.1M in 111 theaters.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES (3-DAY)

  1. The Good Dinosaur – $55M
  2. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2 – $46M
  3. Creed – $28M
  4. Victor Frankenstein – $11M
  5. Spectre – $8.5M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Marvel’s  “Captain America: Civil War ” (May 6, 2016)

The countdown to summer 2016 begins…now.

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Lionsgate’s  “Now You See Me 2” (June 10, 2016)

One of the most welcomed surprises of the summer of 2013 was the magic-comedy-caper, “Now You See Me.” This looks like more of the same, and with that dapper cast–Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine–that’s exactly what this sequel should be.

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INDIE CUT OF THE WEEK: Broad Green’s “Knight of Cups” (March 4, 2016)

For a Terrence Malick film, this seems surprisingly straightforward…once you add the voice over.

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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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“Creed” Poster Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Poster Design by Concept Arts