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Why You Should Be Allegiant To… MIDNIGHT SPECIAL!

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

Lionsgate’s fortunes have been in complete ruin this year, as the handful of films the studio has released have all pretty much tanked at the box office, including the mega-flop, “Gods of Egypt,” which carried a budget of $150M+, a hefty marketing campaign and oodles upon oodles of excess.

At least they still have one franchise alive and kicking, “Divergent,” which marks their last true series of YA films after “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games.”

Most recent YA films have failed to ignite new tentpoles of late, as Sony’s January misfire, “The 5th Wave,” will be the last wave, and the industry has yet to see a new book series catch fire the way “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” did.

And so, “Allegiant,” the third film in the series, carries the weight of Lionsgate’s hopes and dreams, although, to be fair, this franchise isn’t really in the same league as its YA predecessors, as the first two installments failed to reach $300M worldwide.

In fact, in North America, “Insurgent,” grossed just $130M whereas the original topped $150M—that kind of decline isn’t customary according to the laws of sequels which usually sees the second installment of a series exceed the original.

The major issue with “Divergent” as an entity, is that it’s just too derivative of “Hunger Games” for the general public. “Harry Potter” focused on magic, “Twilight” vampires and werewolves and “Hunger Games” future dystopian unrest…which is all too similar to “Divergent.”

Unfortunately for the story, corporate greed wins out again, as “Allegiant” has been split into two parts, although Lionsgate changed the obligatory “Pt. 1” and “Pt. 2” and retitled the final installment, “Ascendant,” which is set for release in June 2017.

As we learned from the last book in the “Hunger Games” series, the bulk of the material is paper-thin already, and I suspect the third film in the “Divergent” franchise will suffer declining grosses because of it. Oh, and not to mention the fact that it’s the worst reviewed film of the franchise at just 12% on Rotten Tomatoes.

In 3,700+ theaters, expect a bow of around $35M. “Divergent” and “Insurgent” opened with $54M and $52M, respectively, so that’s a huge dropoff.

Overseas, “Allegiant” is off to a soft start as well, grossing $25M. “Divergent’s” saving grace is that international audience is growing, increasing $30M with the sequel.

Hey, did you know Jennifer Gardner is still in the movie business? She’s not just tabloid fodder and American Express commercials, you know.

Gardner headlines Sony’s “Miracles from Heaven,” a true spiritual sequel to their 2014 hit “Heaven is for Real,” which ended up with a fortuitous $91M as faith-based audiences flocked to it after debuting with $22M.

This one should find the same audience base and approach $14M this Easter weekend, as it debuted on Wednesday with $1.9M.

Relativity Media once had award aspirations for the R-rated comedy, “The Bronze,” but after their very public bankruptcy bust, the film landed with Sony Classics.

Sony Classics doesn’t often release a film wide, choosing to go exclusive or limited, and instead build an audience with solid reviews and positive word-of-mouth.

Unfortunately, “The Bronze” has neither, as it’s just 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, thus the indie outfit is opting for a wide release in 1,100+ theaters. Without much advertising, it will be lucky to hit $1.5M this weekend.

In exclusive release, WB slips Jeff Nichols’ genre-bending “Midnight Special” into five arthouses this weekend. Without a true indie distribution arm, this type of release has become very uncommon for Warner Bros. unless campaigning for awards glory.

This gem of a film, which has garnered passionate reviews from critics, looks to be caught between a rock and a hard place. WB fluctuated between limited and wide release, before deciding on an exclusive platform.

Remember, Nichols’ last film, “Mud,” benefitted from a slow roll out from Roadside Attractions three years ago and eventually went on to gross $21M, becoming their highest grossing film of all time.

We’ll just have to wait and see how Warner Bros. handles this one, but with their biggest title of 2016, “Batman V Superman,” just around the corner next weekend this feels like a classic “rug sweep” move. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

It certainly is a sign of the times when the weekend’s biggest film release isn’t in theaters…but on Netflix. How big, you ask?

“One…foooooootlong.”

PW is back. That’s Pee-Wee Herman to you and me. The bow-tie boy who never grows up is back with “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday”—28 years after his last adventure, and over 3 decades since his biggest adventure.

That film, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” directorial debut of Tim Burton, launched Pee-Wee mania in 1985 which led to his hit kid’s series, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. However 1988’s “Big Top Pee-Wee” cooled things off as it didn’t reach the zany heights of “Big Adventure” which debuted with just $4.5M, but hung around all summer, grossing $40M.

Soon after his TV series ended, Paul Reubens disappeared in the theatrical world…a darkened porno theater as it were…and he simply couldn’t handle all the negative press, especially living in the limelight as a  former children’s host.

Thankfully, his self-imposed hiatus is over, and PW is back in his signature grey suit…looking as keen and playful as ever. The secret word is: hooray!

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Zootopia – $36M
  2. Divergent: Allegiant – $35M
  3. 10 Cloverfield Lane – $15M
  4. Miracles From Heaven – $14M
  5. Deadpool – $7M

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INDY 5 IS ALIVE

You jonesin’ for a new Indiana Jones? You got it. After acquiring the franchise as part of the Lucasfilm takeover, Disney will be releasing “Indy 5” with the cornerstone creators front and center. No, Shia LaBeouf is not donning the fedora this go-round, nor is Sean Connery coming out of retirement…not yet anyway.

Harrison Ford stars once again and Steven Spielberg directs the as-of-yet untitled adventure, hitting the trail July 19, 2019, a mere 38 years after the original.

Let’s just hope Ford doesn’t do anything silly and continue his Pine Box Tour; Han Solo is already history and if he knocks off Indiana Jones, fandom may never recover.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” (Sept. 30, 2016)

Tim Burton returns to fantastical family fantasy…a world he’s built his career on. This looks miraculously macabre, as you’d expect from him.

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Sony’s “Sausage Party” (Aug. 12, 2016)

Seth Rogen brings us…his weiner. I’m just glad we live in a world where a film like this actually gets made. It’s not a trailer, folks, it’s a feature-length film. Not sure how it’ll do, but this animated foodie fight is destined to be a cult classic.

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WTF CUT OF THE WEEK: Paramount’s “Ben-Hur” (Aug. 12, 2016)

To be fair, this doesn’t look awful, but do we really need a remake of William Wyler’s 1959 Best Picture-winning classic? I mean, in 30 years will someone remake “Braveheart” and actually make it better? Nope. Not a chance. At least Morgan Freeman’s presence elevates things a bit, however I’m still not sold.

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“Midnight Special” Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Poster Design by Empire Design

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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.