This will be all of the Friday new release news that aren’t Spectre. And the other big wide release is The Peanuts Movie. The film is, of course, a big-screen adaptation of the 65-year old Charles Schulz comic strip. 20th Century Fox has been going out of their way to emphasize how respectful to the spirit/tone this film is to the original creation, and the final film seems to at least accurately mimic the later “Snoopy takes over” years pretty well. With solid reviews and good buzz, it’s no surprise that the $100 million animated Blue Sky feature opened with $12.1m on Friday.
So barring a fluke, we’re looking at a $43 million debut weekend (presuming a slightly better multiplier than Alvin and the Chipmunks). It’s a rock-solid debut for a film that should play for awhile even against Walt Disney’s The Good Dinosaur. This debut is right in line with Fox’s first two Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, which snagged $44m against the $77m debut of I Am Legend and then $48m Fri-Sun against the second ($75m-grossing) weekend of Avatar and the $62m debut of Sherlock Holmes.
So if you’re wondering why Fox has no fear pitting The Road Chip up against Star Wars: The Force Awakens this December, there’s your answer. As long as the film didn’t piss off fans of the original property, this was an easy sell. It’s a win for Fox’s marketing to be sure, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Catherine Hardwicke’s Miss You Already debuted in 384 theaters yesterday courtesy of Roadside Attractions. The Toni Collette/Drew Barrymore cancer dramedy earned around $175,000 on its first Friday, setting the stage for a $609k weekend. That’s no great shakes, and I wish the movie were better (Collette is fantastic, but the script is all over the place, it plays better as a drama than as a comedy, and the needless voice over is a near fatal wound), but I’m glad I at least got a chance to see it at a multiplex. Point being, if you’re someone who complains about the lack of female-centric multiplex options, you owe it to yourself to check it out this week if you can.
The much-discussed Spotlight finally made its way to paying audiences yesterday, as the Open Road Films drama debuted in five theaters. The film, about the Boston Globe reporters who broke the Boston Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, stars the likes of Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Liev Schreiber. It earned rave reviews and massive Oscar buzz coming out of Venice back in September, so the question now is whether it can maintain that “Oscar front-runner” momentum even if the box office doesn’t measure up. But for the moment, the film earned $90,000 last night for a likely $305k weekend and terrific $61k per-screen-average. So far, so good for one of the very best films of the year.
This weekend had two of the best films of the year debuting in limited release, as Fox Searchlight dropped Brooklyn in five theaters on Wednesday. The flat-out fantastic Saoirse Ronan immigrant drama earned around $52,000 on its first Friday setting the stage for a likely $174k weekend ($34k p.s.a.) and $231k five-day total. Ronan is heading for the Oscars regardless, and the film darn well ought to be as well. This one will go wider over the next month. This is exactly the kind of movie we all complain Hollywood doesn’t make anymore. So if you don’t make a point to see it, you have only yourself to blame!
But wait, there’s more! Bleecker Street debuted Hollywood Blacklist biopic Trumbo in five theaters as well. This one stars Bryan Cranston as the infamously blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and this is one of the would-be Oscar films I haven’t caught up with yet. Nonetheless, I may have to hurry, as it only made around $23,000 on its first day, setting the stage for a $77k weekend and $15k per-theater-average. That’s not terrible, but it’s a sign that the overcrowding that afflicted so many October multiplex releases also may be an issue at the platform level as well. Once again, might I suggest not cramming all of your would-be Oscar movies into the same 2-3 month period?
Scott Mendelson -Forbes
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