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‘Joker’ Will Top the Weekend Again, but ‘Parasite’ Is the Real Box Office Story

Also in our box-office preview: "The Addams Family" and "Gemini Man" battle for second place, while Netflix opens two movies.



The upcoming semi-holiday Columbus Day weekend will see three new competitors, none of which are likely to present a serious challenge to the second stanza of “Joker.” Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” with Will Smith and the animated “The Addams Family” are headed for healthy starts, with cellphone-addiction comedy “Jexi” far behind.

More significant this weekend is the platform launch of “Parasite”: Not only is it launching a serious awards run, it’s also the rare foreign film with breakout potential.

“Joker” Will Set Another Record

The controversial movie grossed $96 million over the weekend, even better than initial estimates of $93.5 million. Monday and Tuesday added another $23.6 million, but this weekend will tell us much more about its appeal: 50% down would give it $48 million, putting this around $185 million in 10 days. That’s unprecedented for October.

One Week, Three Original  Releases

While June and July saw a total of just four wide-release original films, we’ve seen 10 in the last five weeks. “Hustlers,” and possibly “Downton Abbey,” could reach $100 million, and at least five others will pass $50 million. As with the recent “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and “Good Boys,” there has been a healthy return for originals to supplement the franchises. A few weeks ago, “Downton,” along with “Ad Astra” and “Rambo: Last Blood,” all opened over $19 million — very rare. This weekend, two originals should top $20 million.

Don’t Underestimate “Gemini Man” or “The Addams Family”

Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is the director’s latest effort to experiment with higher frame rates, but the real hook is having Will Smith play both a veteran assassin and the 21-year old clone who’s pursuing himself. Although Lee has dipped into studio commercial efforts before (“The Hulk”), this is at an extreme end. And while Lee won the Best Director Oscar for “Brokeback Mountain” and for “The Life of Pi,” his “Gemini Man” reviews have been terrible. It stands at 36 on Metacritic, and faces the daunting task of recouping a reported cost of over $130 million — about double that of “Joker.”

“Gemini Man” it should see $25 million or more for the three-day weekend, and could wind up in third place, behind the animated “The Addams Family Movie.” Timing its release with a school holiday and Halloween makes sense. All three “Hotel Transylvania” films opened to over $40 million; don’t be surprised if this edges “Gemini.”

“Gemini Man”

Paramount Pictures

A Sad Farewell to CBS Films

CBS Films will go out with a whimper: “Jexi” stars Adam DeVine in a comedy about a young man obsessed with his phone. It will likely take in less than $5 million. Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (“Bad Moms”), it’s expected to be the distributor’s last theatrical feature as corporate owner CBS transitions to streaming.

CBS Films had a lot going for it. It mostly made original films including “Last Vegas,” “Woman in Black,” and recently “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” as well as specialized releases “Inside Llewellyn Davis” and “At Eternity’s End.”

“Parasite” Enters the Bloodstream With a Bong

One week after very encouraging initial results for “Pain and Glory” ($152,000 in four theaters, high end of late for subtitled releases), Bong Joon Ho’s highly anticipated “Parasite” should easily exceed that; the question is by how much. It could be staggering; it’s opening in New York and Los Angeles, in three theaters, and anything much over $80,000 would set a record for a two-city specialized subtitled release.

After winning the Palme D’Or at Cannes, followed by screenings at the Telluride, Toronto, and New York film festivals, it already has multiple sold-out shows at its three locations (IFC Center in Manhattan, Arclight Hollywood and The Landmark in Los Angeles), many of which include Bong Q&As.

Bong gained wider visibility with his English-language “Snowpiercer” and “Okja.” This film is set in Korea and taps into the zeitgeist with its story about an impoverished family scamming a wealthy one. It feels more like something Jordan Peele might do than the foreign-language films that typically attract older audiences.

Neon has built a reputation along the lines of A24 in finding edgy titles that expand the specialized audience. Its top release was “I, Tonya,” at $30 million; can Neon find similar success here? Too soon to project; we’ll get into that, along with the rosy prospects for “Pain and Glory,” next week. But this could be the headline coming out of the weekend.

Netflix debuts “The King” and “El Camino”

Success for “Parasite” and “Pain and Glory” would be particularly gratifying as this week sees multiple titles with concurrent or near-term home viewing. Netflix opens “El Camino: Breaking Bad” in more than 125 across the country this weekend, mostly for evening shows — although audiences also have the option of watching it at home. It is the widest Netflix play since “Roma” last year. Still lacking any showings by top national chains, of note is, unlike “Roma”, Arclight and the Arizona-based Harkins will screen “El Camino.” This could portend openings for “The Irishman” as it struggles to get placement in even 400-500 theaters.

Netflix also has “The King” with Timothee Chalamet and Robert Pattinson in David Michod’s historical drama. Its limited release includes Landmark locations in New York and Los Angeles, ahead of its November 1 streaming debut.

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