You say you want some originality in your movie theaters? Well, how about a reboot and a movie based on an amusement park ride…er…land? Cuz that’s as close as you’re gonna get this Memorial Day weekend with “Poltergeist” and Disney’s “Tomorrowland.”
The thing about remaking classic 80s films is that you better be damn sure yours is not just as good as the original, but significantly better. You know critics aren’t necessarily going to be on your side; you just pray audiences are.
That’s a pretty tall order for Fox’s “Poltergeist,” considering how beloved the Steven Spielberg produced 1982 original is; however, horror audiences are often a bit more forgiving than, say, “Footloose” fans.
It’s not often a chill pill opens on Memorial Day weekend, in fact, not since 1992’s “Alien 3” has a horror flick debuted with more than $20M+. And while it may not win the weekend, “Poltergeist” does arrive with some solid pedigree in director Gil Kenan (“Monster House”), Sam Rockwell in the lead, and producer Sam Raimi.
With a family friendly PG-13 rating, the film might see around $23M for the traditional weekend, and upwards of $28M for the 4-day stretch. That’d be a fine number for Fox, as the reboot cost just $35M and will have 3D tickets helping the uptick too.
Disney’s “Tomorrowland” is looking to eke out a win over “Pitch Perfect 2,” and if Disney’s $150M production can shoot the moon with $40M+ in 3,800+ theaters, it might just tune out Anna Kendrick and co.
The extended weekend gross should be upwards $50M and that might be enough to give Brad Bird’s latest the checkered flag as family fare is at a premium this weekend.
Problem is, “Tomorrowland” is only pretty solid, not spectacular. It suffers from a half-baked plot, one that is rife with imagination but built with Lincoln Logs instead of real brick and mortar.
Listen, it’s loads better than “Haunted Mansion,” certainly, but doesn’t have the gusto of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I liked what I saw when I was seeing it, but what exactly did I see? That’s what I’m still wondering. Still, Disney’s magical seal should be enough of a guise to sell plenty of tickets opening weekend.
And let’s not count out “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” each of which are performing like super sequels and will see minimal drops this weekend. It’s quite possible that “Pitch Perfect 2” will take the weekend again, or flip flop with “Tomorrowland” on the 3-day and 4-day totals.
Weekend Estimates (3-day)
1. Tomorrowland – $41M
2. Pitch Perfect 2 – $37M
3. Mad Max: Fury Road – $25M
4. Poltergeist – $25M
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $22M
CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” (Sept. 18, 2015)
A surprise hit when it was released during the cinematic wasteland known as September, “The Maze Runner” went on the gross $102M domestically and $340M worldwide. It’s no wonder Fox pushed for another episode so quickly, and by the looks of the latest trailer, they’ve got another solid hit on their hands.
It’s not often YA adaptations live up to the hype, but no doubt the director of the original and the sequel, Wes Ball, is a special talent. Definitely one to watch.
PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: WB’s “We Are Your Friends” (Aug. 28, 2015)
Call it “Saturday Night Fever” for Millennials. Is that what they’re called? Are we still calling people things? Am I still Gen X? Who was Gen Y? Why do we need to label everyone? Why is Zac Efron so dreamy in a tank top?
At first glace, I sort of laughed at this, but upon further reflection, and the fact that it is set in “the valley” of Los Angeles where I live, I think I’m sorta into this. Either that, or I just want to go to a rave.
CHEESY CUT OF THE WEEK: Sony’s “Pixels” Trailer #2 (July 24, 2015)
Yes, I still believe Sony’s $110M video game adventure might just be the flop of the summer, but as a hardcore 80s gamer, I have to say…yes, I’m pretty stoked for this…and, yes, that is a roll of quarters in my pocket. Thanks for noticing.
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.