“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” will follow the Marvel rule: Every May Marvel release has held on to the top spot for a second weekend .
The sequel will likely gross as much as the two new wide studio releases combined, with a predicted $60 million. Two new movies will battle for second place: Warner Bros.’ pricey $175 million “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and “Snatched,” an R-rated Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn Fox comedy timed for Mother’s Day.
After several weeks of lagging grosses, despite some big performers “Guardians” and “The Fate of the Furious,” this weekend could reach parity with last year. While the second weekend of the current Marvel film will fall short of “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016, the two new openers should easily outpace the new releases last year which added up to $20 million.
Whether or not it lands in the second spot, “King Arthur” is a big headache for Warners. Aimed at more of an international than domestic audience (similar to “The Legend of Tarzan” last year) and targeted at fans of “Game of Thrones,” the retelling of the familiar “Sword in the Stone” myth will fall short of the $38 million opening the Alexander Skarsgard “Tarzan” remake took in last July.
“King Arthur” marks the fourth Warners crack at the Camelot story in the last 50 years, including their 1967 musical version, John Boorman’s “Excalibur” and the animated “Quest for Camelot.” Disney boasts two — the most recent with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley opened to an adjusted $21 million at current ticket prices, to an ultimate adjusted $73 million total. But significantly, at a time before the international box office explosion, it did three times as much overseas.
The potential negatives for the domestic opening come from weak reviews (44 on Metacritic) and a key difference from HBO’s medieval series: on cable, “Thrones” has the freedom to pursue its sex and violence in a way that “King Arthur,” even with its share of bloody battles, cannot to earn its general audience PG-13 rating.
While most high-budget titles avoid Mother’s Day weekend, comedies sometimes break through. The last big-budget film to try the date was “The Great Gatsby” in 2013, which managed a $50 million opening off a starry Cannes opening slot. That had a proven draw in Leonardo DiCaprio and decent reviews. “King Arthur” is even more expensive, lacks the reviews, the star power, and the Cannes opener.
Long time “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam, who carried big roles in Guillermo del Toro’s action films “Crimson Peak” and “Pacific Rim” as well as the current specialized release “The Lost City of Z,” has not yet proved to be a marquee draw on his own. Domestically the best “King Arthur” can hope for is about $25 million, and lower is possible.
Even though it has scored similarly negative reviews, “Snatched” is more likely to outpace expectations. “Neighbors” exactly three years ago opened to a strong $49 million, with a strong comedy cast led by Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne. “Snatched” stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a daughter and mother on vacation together. It’s Hawn’s first feature release since “The Banger Sisters” in 2002; Schumer has toplined one film, “Trainwreck,” similarly R-rated and raunchy. In summer 2015 it opened to $30 million and with strong word of mouth eventually hit $110 million.
The Mother’s Day timing plus broader appeal and a dearth of recent comedies could boost “Snatched” to a number close to — or ahead of — “King Arthur.” It isn’t cheap for a comedy ($42 million) and with the lack of guaranteed foreign appeal (“Trainwreck” only added $30 million overseas) it needs a strong start to become a success.
Two more limited national releases take their chances. Jason Blum’s BH Tilt, normally horror-genre centered, opens “Lowriders.” The East Los Angeles Latino family drama opens on 275 theaters.
“The Wall” from veteran Doug Liman comes to 520 theaters. The Amazon Studio film, released by Roadside Attractions, features Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as American soldiers in Iraq trapped under fire. Despite its high end pedigree it has had no festival exposure or advance reviews.