Box Office: ‘Spectre,’ ‘Peanuts Movie’ to Hold Off ‘By the Sea,’ Crop of Female Driven Films

Most fans of Angelina Jolie Pitt, as she has rechristened herself, will have to wait to see the actress’ latest big screen effort.

By the Sea,” a drama about marital dysfunction that Jolie Pitt directed, wrote and co-stars in opposite her real life husband Brad Pitt, will open this Friday in 10 theaters in a handful of major cities. The film cost $10 million to produce and Universal, the studio behind the project, insists that it was always intended to be an homage to European art films, not a commercial enterprise.

That’s a departure from the prior Brangelina venture, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which was one of the biggest hits of 2005, racking up nearly $480 million globally. Expectations are pretty low for this one and critics have been cool, knocking the picture for being a tad precious. But Universal is having a monster year at the box office and betting on Jolie Pitt paid off with “Unbroken,” which hauled $161.4 million at the global box office, so even if it losses money, the studio should be in good shape.

With the Jolie Pitts busy getting their Antonioni on, it’s looking like a sleepy weekend at the box office. “Spectre,” the latest James Bond adventure, should top charts for the second weekend in a row, but will likely drop significantly from its opening haul of $70.4 million. The picture scored an A- CinemaScore, but some reviews were dismissive and there have been a number of “think pieces” poking holes in the film’s plotting.

Previous Craig ventures have declined anywhere from 24.6% (much loved “Casino Royale”) to 60.4% (much loathed “Quantum of Solace”) in their second weekends. Look for “Spectre” to drop by more than half, picking up roughly $32 million. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions film carries a $250 million production budget and has to gross at least $650 million to break even. It will depend heavily on foreign markets as it searches for profits.

Another holdover, Fox’s “The Peanuts Movie,” should come in slightly behind “Spectre.” Bolstered by strong reviews and word-of-mouth, the film will likely make $27 million, a modest drop from its $44.2 million launch.

The weekend is notable for one reason. At a time when gender disparity in Hollywood is making headlines, it’s a rare instance where three new pictures are directed by women. In addition to Jolie Pitt’s “By the Sea,” there’s “The 33” from Mexican filmmaker Patricia Riggen and “Love the Coopers” from “Stepmom” screenwriter Jessie Nelson.

It’s not necessarily a sign that a resilient glass ceiling has been shattered. Only 7% of the top films last year were directed by women and as this week’s Variety cover story points out, female stars are chronically paid less than their male counterparts.

The 33,” a drama about a group of trapped Chilean miners whose underground ordeal in 2010 captivated the world, is looking at an opening of $9 million when it bows across 2,400 theaters. Alcon Entertainment financed the $25 million production, which Warner Bros. is distributing.

“Love the Coopers,” a holiday comedy with an ensemble cast that include Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin and Amanda Seyfried, is trying to carve out a niche with older audiences looking for some Christmas cheer. The CBS Films production is being distributed in conjunction with Lionsgate. It cost $17 million to make and is eyeing an $8 million debut. “Love the Coopers” will screen in roughly 2,500 theaters. The studio is hoping that the picture will be a slow-burner that opens modestly but sticks around, much as older-skewing comedies like “Last Vegas” and “The Intern” have done.

That leaves Clarius Entertainment’s “My All American,” the story of Freddie Steinmark, a plucky member of the University of Texas football team whose playing career was cut short after his leg was amputated. It’s a true life tale, and one that the studio expects will resonate with the faith-based crowds that made “War Room” and “God’s Not Dead” hits. Traditional tracking is erratic with these types of movies, but projections suggest that “My All American” will kick off to $3 million from 1,565 screens.

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