Weekend Box Office Preview: IF Looks to Welcome Family Audiences Back to the Movies – Boxoffice – Boxoffice Pro

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L-R, Ryan Reynolds (Cal), Cailey Fleming (Bea), Steve Carell (Blue) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Blossom) star in Paramount Pictures’ “IF.”

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Week 20 | May 17-19, 2024
Top 10 Weekend Forecast: $80 – 95M

Three new releases will hit theaters this weekend, all of them vying to unseat 20th Century Studios’ Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes for the top spot.

We are currently forecasting $80 to $95 million from the top 10 films at the domestic box office for this weekend, a drop between 19 and 32% compared to the top 10 titles from the same frame in 2023.

Boxoffice Pro Podium

Forecasting the Top 3 Movies at the Domestic Box Office | May 17-19, 2024

1. IF
Paramount Pictures | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $30 – $40M | 4k+ Locations
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 23%

Pros

  • This live-action/animated family comedy led by Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski has a lot of potential if it’s a crowd-pleaser. Two stars plus a supercharged voice cast (Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, etc.) should help provide a good marketing push going into the weekend. You cast these folks for talk show visibility, after all. Promotional partners like Baskin Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts are also good for business, not to mention toys that will give the studio another revenue stream if grosses are robust in over 4000 domestic locations plus Thursday previews. It’s also getting an expansive international rollout in 56 markets, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
  • CinemaCon footage assuaged a lot of concerns we had going into this week. The film’s animation works really well in the footage we saw, revealing some real potential for this title. If writer/director Krasinski can translate the same importance of family and character development that he brought to the horror genre with A Quiet Place, then Paramount may have another franchise on their hands. Whatever happens, Krasinski’s movie is positioned to win over family audiences until The Garfield Movie opens next weekend.

Cons

  • Star power might get overshadowed by a lack of brand familiarity. Audiences can and will show up for Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, but you can’t run that trailer in front of IF (or vice versa). It’s also possible Reynolds may have diluted his brand somewhat by appearing in three streaming films in a row since 2021 (Red Notice, The Adam Project, Spirited). The title doesn’t really give us much idea of the concept either, and the lack of an IP could represent a risk for the movie to establish itself with audiences. Poor reviews (currently 53% on Rotten Tomatoes) might sink the movie if audiences catch that whiff before hitting “purchase tickets.”
  • There have been very few original family movies combining live-action and animation the way IF employs it, making comparable titles difficult for this assessment. Films of this ilk tend to be either more adult-oriented (Ted, Monkeybone) or associated with some kind of pre-established property (Paddington, Peter Rabbit, Sonic the Hedgehog, Detective Pikachu). You have to go back awhile to 2001’s Cats & Dogs ($93.4M domestic), 2009’s G-Force ($119.4M domestic), or 2011’s Hop ($108.5M domestic) to find similar original comps, although tonally reviews are saying IF is more like a tearjerker Pixar movie or perhaps a more wistful live-action/animation hybrid like 2018’s Christopher Robin ($99.2M domestic). Do moviegoers really want a live-action Pixar movie? This is an especially pertinent question when the actual Pixar formula has been on shaky ground in recent years with flops like Lightyear or Onward. A hybrid movie like 2019’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu (which also featured Ryan Reynolds) had a massive brand behind it. It opened to $54.3 million in 2019 before posting a $429M worldwide haul. The low end of our projections has this opening on par with 2021’s Free Guy, another original concept starring Ryan Reynolds of the post-pandemic era. Free Guy opened to $28.3M in North America, finishing its domestic run with $121.6M.
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2. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
20th Century Studios | Week 2
Weekend Range: $22 – $28M | 4,075 Locations
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 17%

Pros

  • There’s no question director Wes Ball’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes over-performed spectacularly last weekend, with actuals saying it brought in $58.4M over initial estimates of $56.5M. How does this second frame drop range compare to other entries in Fox’s modern Apes franchise?
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – $27,832,307 million (-49% drop)
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – $36,254,310 million (-50% drop)
    War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – $20,884,223 million (-63% drop)
  • Because Kingdom did so well last frame, the second weekend earnings will be large even if the drop should be more than 50%. Plus, the 12 & Under demo only represented 3% of business for this title last weekend, so IF poses almost zero threat.

Cons

  • We’re expecting a sizable drop following its great opening weekend, a natural decline in holdovers coming after Mother’s Day. The promotional machine for Warner Bros.’ post-apocalyptic competition Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is already in full swing, which means Apes probably only has this one last weekend to make bank before George Miller’s marauder vehicles roll over them.

3. The Strangers: Chapter 1
Lionsgate Films | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $7 – $12M
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 11%

Pros

How has the home invasion horror sub-genre performed domestically in recent years? Pretty well, proving it’s a dependably exploitable fear to drive audiences to theaters.

  • Don’t Breathe 2 (2021) – $10.6M Opening Weekend / $32.7M Domestic Total
  • The Invisible Man (2020) – $28M Opening Weekend / $70.4M Domestic Total
  • The Intruder (2019) – $10.8M Opening Weekend / $35.4M Domestic Total
  • Breaking In (2018) – $17.6M Opening Weekend / $46.5M Domestic Total

The two prior films in the Strangers franchise have also done well…

  • The Strangers (2008) – $20.9M Opening Weekend / $52.5M Domestic Total
  • The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) – $10.4M Opening Weekend / $24.4M Domestic Total

However, there was a steep drop-off on the second title, not to mention that DVD sales which drove the initial popularity of the first Strangers have since gone off a cliff. A reinvention of the franchise is a great way to bring in new audiences on a series that never had much of a central identity beyond the masked home invasion premise, plus original creator Bryan Bertino is on hand providing the story. Initial reactions from the online contingent are fairly positive, and if this one works there are two more films directed by Renny Harlin already in the can waiting in the wings.

Cons

  • Last year scored major breakaway horror hits with January’s M3GAN ($30.4M opening/$95.1M cume) and day-and-date title Five Nights at Freddy’s ($80M opening/$137.2M cume) in October, but the genre has failed to deliver any crossover hits with general audiences so far in 2024. Universal’s Night Swim holds the record for the highest horror opening weekend of the year with $11.7M, followed by the studio’s own Abigail ($10.2M), Lionsgate’s Imaginary ($9.9M), 20th Century Studios’ The First Omen ($8.3M), and Sony’s Tarot $6.5M—but none of these titles had any staying power or word-of-mouth reach. It was strictly scorched earth with lackluster response from even genre die-hards.
  • Director Renny Harlin was once at the top of the A-list thanks to megahits like Die Hard 2 or Cliffhanger. However, a string of flops kicked off with the 1995 disaster Cutthroat Island (which ended Carolco Studios) have seen a steady decline in his output. Even though his career began with horror (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), the last time he piggybacked off a franchise did not end well with 2004’s Exorcist: The Beginning earning poor reviews and poorer returns.
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Wildcard: Back to Black
Focus Features | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $4 – $8M | 2,000 Locations
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 6%

This Amy Winehouse biopic has pulled an impressive $32.6M internationally since opening in April, buoyed by the singer’s popularity in the UK which is responsible for over $14M of that haul. Despite only a few British names (Jack O’Connell, Marisa Abela), Back to Black could sneak into the top 3 if it can perform as well as it has in the UK, but a location count of 2,000 has this title losing the battle for showtime marketshare against four other films playing this weekend. If fans turn out, it could overtake Strangers, particularly if the horror performs near the bottom or below our expectations.

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L-R, Ryan Reynolds (Cal), Cailey Fleming (Bea), Steve Carell (Blue) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Blossom) star in Paramount Pictures’ “IF.”

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