To the astonishment of everyone not named M. Night Shyamalan, Universal’s “Split” doubled up poor defenseless Vin Diesel and claimed this past weekend’s box office crown. The movie’s USD $40 million opening was the director’s best since 2004’s “The Village”. “XXX: Return of Xander Cage” figured to be the choice for moviegoers opting against introspective Oscar titles but in retrospect it undoubtedly was too long of a gap between the original and this sequel and Diesel’s success with films that are neither fast nor furious is spotty at best.
Onward to this weekend.
“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (Sony) — If you’re wondering why (oh why) did anyone decide we needed another Resident Evil movie there are actually 197 million reasons why. That was the international take on the last RE film (USD $197 million). Milla Jovovich and the man with way too many names, director/husband Paul W. S. Anderson, return to bring Alice’s battle against the undead to a climax. This is the second film in the last three weeks to close the book on a Sci-fi/Fantasy series after “Underworld: Blood Wars” (also Sony). That film’s predecessor, “Underworld Awakening”, opened to USD $25 million in 2012, and “Blood Wars” debuted to a disappointing USD $13 million. The last RE notched a USD $21 million opening weekend (also in 2012) so it shouldn’t be too difficult to set the bar on “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”.
The Verdict: The good news is this should be the highest opener of the weekend and should do absurdly well overseas. The bad news is it may barely crack double digits stateside. USD $13 million
“A Dog’s Purpose” (Universal) — You know it’s a bad week when your three-Kleenex, inspirational dog movie is facing a boycott from PETA. The now famous video of a frightened German Shepherd being forced into a tank of raging water is difficult to watch. And I’m not sure the producer’s “I’m shocked there’s gambling at Rick’s!” response will do much to assuage moviegoers’ aversion to seeing animals harmed for entertainment purposes (hello Ringling Brothers). It’s a shame, the book was a bestseller and the movie features the always reliable Dennis Quaid and is helmed by legendary director Lasse Hallstrom.
The Verdict: It’s tough to say how PETA’s boycott will affect “A Dog’s Purpose”. They are an organization that evokes strong feelings, both positive and negative. A film that, even before last week’s story, figured to appeal more to the heartland rather than the coasts is now looking at an even wider gulf between the two. What could have been a mid teen opening now is probably in the USD $11 million range, although it could go higher if those moviegoers on the fence decide to go to spite PETA.
“Gold” (Weinstein) — For those of you positively on pins and needles awaiting the next Indonesian gold deposit thriller you’re in luck. This certainly is an odd choice for Matthew McConaughey’s second live action role after winning the Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club but the actor has always been known for taking left of center screen roles. Screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (“Traffic”, “Rules of Engagement”, “The Alamo”) sits in the director’s chair for the first time since 2005’s “Syriana”.
The Verdict: Hard to imagine this drawing much interest. Even in Indonesia. USD $3 million.
Japanese anime title “Yu-Gi-Oh: Dark Side of Dimensions”, Pantelion/Lionsgate’s father/son comedy, “Un Padre No Tan Padre”, and our early favorite for the coveted Best Movie Title of 2017 (Horror or Thriller), “Massacre On Aisle 12”.
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