This past weekend was a bit of a downer for the North American movie business as the MLK holiday failed to propel films like “Patriots Day”, “Sleepless” or “Monster Trucks”. In fact, the highest opening this weekend for the new films was STX’s “Bye Bye Man” which frightened enough teens to manage a fifth place finish. Fortunes should change for the better this coming weekend and Celluloid Junkie takes a look at the titles making their US debut on 20 January.
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage—Vin Diesel returns to one of his most high profile roles, 15 years after the original XXX opened to USD $44 million and became a surprise worldwide hit. This time out Vin partners with director DJ Caruso and co-star Samuel L Jackson (one of 412 films he’s in this year, I believe) to once again save the world from, well, someone or something. Caruso’s career started out like a house afire with “Disturbia” and “Eagle Eye” but his most recent efforts were “I Am Number 4” and “The Disappointments Room”. Social media has been fairly strong on the title (the official site on Twitter has tweeted nearly 250 times).
The Verdict: The NFL Championship games could cut into the weekend gross a bit but overall interest is strong and there hasn’t been a good action movie in a while: USD $35 million
Split—M. Night Shaymalan directs the story of a man (James McAvoy) with 23 distinct personalities. Watching McAvoy describe the film this past weekend on British talk show The Graham Norton Show confused me to no end, though the actor’s thick Scottish brogue didn’t help either. Hopefully not all the 23 personalities sound like you’re talking to someone living in John O’Groats. Your fun fact for the day is that McAvoy’s co-star is Betty Buckley (yes, Abby Bradford from “Eight Is Enough”).
The Verdict: M. Night’s last film was “The Visit” in 2015 which opened to a snappy USD $25 million. Figure on a bit less this time around: USD $17 million.
The Founder—Michael Keaton has been in the last two Best Picture winners at the Oscars. However, that run looks to come to an end with “The Founder”, the (relatively) true story of McDonalds founder Ray Kroc. John Lee Hancock (“Saving Mr. Banks”, “The Blind Side”) directs and the film co-stars Laura Dern and Nick Offerman.
The Verdict: If you stand outside your local multiplex and watch the grosses change on the sign it will probably only amount to USD $5 million (Served).
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone—Faith-based titles are always dicey to predict. No social media statistic or tracking number can ever be a true predictor of boxoffice success. I saw this film over a year ago and thought it might resonate with its intended audience, though listing it as a comedy is a bit of a stretch. Dallas Jenkins, from TV’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars, along with DB Sweeney.
The Verdict: Could be USD $2 million or USD $20 million. Let’s go with the former.
20th Century Women—After a somewhat successful limited run, this Annette Bening/Elle Fanning starrer widens out and will undoubtedly face stiff competition from Oscar hopefuls in a very crowded upscale/art marketplace. A Golden Globes win for Bening would have helped but alas that wasn’t in the cards.
The Verdict: Some decent grosses from both coasts but crickets elsewhere. The Verdict: USD $3 million.
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