With Presidents’ Day, “The Great Wall” (Universal), “Fist Fight” (Universal), and “A Cure For Wellness” (20th Century Fox) each have the luxury of a four-day weekend. However, even with this advantage they could fall short of last weekend’s successful debuts.
Last week saw a trifecta of new releases gross over $30 million. And it’s likely that we’ll see the winner, “The LEGO Batman Movie” (Warner Bros.), in the top spot once more. A forty percent drop would place it at $32 million over three days, more than enough to dominate a group of titles that are each likely to struggle to pass $20 million.
Among the new releases, two very different entries could be in a close race to reach the upper teens.
The edge goes to “Fist Fight,” a comedy budgeted at $20 million-$24 million and starring Ice Cube and Charlie Day (the latter known for two “Horrible Bosses” movies). Directed by Richie Keen in his feature debut, it’s about a grudge match between two high school teachers. The timing seems right for an R-rated comedy that has not had its “Ride Along” equivalent this year.
Warner Bros. Pictures
“The Great Wall” is a Chinese production from master director Zhang Yimou (“Raise the Red Lantern,” “House of Flying Daggers”) who has gone from art-house favorite to big-budget helmer. With Matt Damon in tow for global appeal, this historical epic cost now China-owned Legendary Productions $150 million, and is seen as a template for that industry’s ambitions to parallel Hollywood as an international supplier of big-budget efforts. It opened China in December, and with most major markets already opened has earned $225 million, mainly at home.
Damon’s last three efforts — “Interstellar,” “The Martian,” and “Jason Bourne” — each managed at least $47 million; this will make much less. In fact, with a domestic initial total likely to be under $20 million, and heavy worldwide marketing costs, this film could be red ink for Legendary. Only once has Damon failed to open at #1 in a starring role, and that was George Clooney’s 2014 ensembler “The Monuments Men.” At best this could hit the third spot, and possibly lower.
Similar to recent smash “Split,” Gore Verbinski’s “A Cure For Wellness” has a successful veteran director looking for a career reboot after a big-budget lapse. M. Night Shyamalan preceded his low-budget hit with an earlier rebound, but for Verbinski — of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series and the Oscar-winning “Rango” — this is his first time out since the disappointment of “The Lone Ranger” nearly four years ago.
Set in a Swiss sanatorium, “Wellness” is a thriller with horror elements — not unlike “Split.” Advance reviews have been mixed; it’s expected to fall under $10 million for the weekend, near the bottom for any of the director’s releases.
All of which leaves more room for “Fifty Shades Darker” (Universal) and possibly “John Wick: Chapter 2” (Lionsgate) to end up closer to “LEGO.” With the benefit of Valentine’s Day, the kinky-sex story is this week’s top grosser; whereas its predecessor dropped 73 percent in its second weekend, this sequel should manage a more modest decline. Anything much below 60 percent would put it at $20 million.
“John Wick” should fall even less, though to hit that number it would need to only drop a third.