There are three wide releases this week, plus another that could sneak into the top ten. Two of the three new releases, Blair Witch and Bridget Jones’s Baby, are expected to do well. On the other hand, Snowdenis only going to reach the top five due to the lack of competition. Meanwhile, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is a faith-based concert film. It could reach the top five, or it could miss the Mendoza Line. There’s no way to predict its box office potential. Despite the number of new releases, Sully is expected to remain in top spot thanks to its reviews and target demographic. This weekend last year, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials led the way with just over $30 million. It is likely no film will make that this year, while the depth is a mixed bag, so it looks like 2016 will lose in the year-over-year comparison.
Sully dominated the box office last weekend with $35.03 million. Both its star, Tom Hanks, as its director,Clint Eastwood, have a history of long legs at the box office. Additionally, its reviews are fantastic and it has an older target demographic and both of these factors should help its legs. Some think it will drop less than 30%, much like Bridge of Spies managed. That’s a little too bullish for my taste. However, having a drop-off similar to Captain Phillips is possible, which would give Sully about $22 million over the weekend.
Blair Witch’s reviews started out so well. The first eight reviews posted to Rotten Tomatoes were 100% positive. However, at the moment, the film’s Tomatometer Score is barely 40% positive. That’s disappointing. However, it isn’t fatal for a horror film and the name should still help it thrive at the box office. I’m going with an opening box office of $21 million giving it a close second place.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is earning much better reviews, but it is also aimed at more mature women, which is the demographic least likely to rush out to see a movie opening weekend, but will be more likely to support it in weeks to come. Look for an opening weekend of $15 million, but long enough legs that it could top Blair Witch on the yearly chart when all is said and done.
Snowden is a political biopic by Oliver Stone. At first glance, one would assume this would be a firebrand, controversial film that thrived on that controversy. However, the number one complaint from critics is that it is just too safe. Because it is so safe, it is not generating the buzz it should. Because of this, it likely will struggle at the box office. Fortunately, the competition is not very deep this week, so it will earn fourth place, even while it only makes $6 million over the weekend.
When the Bough Breaks will likely fall to fifth place with just under $5 million. This represents a two thirds drop-off, but that’s not surprising given its genre and its reviews.
There is one more film that could enter the top ten, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise. It is opening in an estimated 800 theaters, which means it will need a theater average of about $2,000 to make the top ten. That seems likely, as it is still rare for a film to miss the Mendoza Line. However, this is a faith-based concert film, so there’s no real historical equivalent to judge it by. It could open in the top five with more than $5 million. Or it could open with less than $1 million. There’s no way to predict this. I’m going with just under $3 million, but there is a lot of room for error here.