It’s been a rough few months for movie franchises.
“Ghostbusters,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” are just a few of the high-profile sequels and reboots that have wilted of late, imperiling several long-running series in the process. Last summer, only three of the 14 sequels that were released did more business than their predecessors.
“Audiences have been really put off by the notion of recycled ideas,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “It used to be that sequels could be quick knock-offs that capitalized on an original idea, but with social media, you can’t really hide anymore.”
Even though Twitter can kill a film’s box office prospects in the time it takes to bang out 140 characters, the movie business isn’t likely to get out of the franchise game any time soon. It’s easier to justify shelling out the millions it takes to make a movie when there’s some kind of track record to point to.
This weekend is no exception. Because Hollywood loves to repeat itself, three sequels will be duking it out for box office dominance — “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” and “Ouija: Origin of Evil.” Any one of the three films could end up topping charts, though most tracking services give the edge to the latest Jack Reacher adventure.
Paramount is backing “Never Go Back,” which brings back Tom Cruise as the former army officer turned general badass. It’s eyeing an opening of roughly $19 million when it bows in 3,600 locations, an improvement on “Jack Reacher’s” $15 million debut four years ago. The first film was a modest hit, grossing $218.3 million globally on a $60 million budget. Its stateside debut suffered from tragic timing. It was released days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the film’s on-screen violence may have been a turnoff to a public still reeling from the murders of young children.
“Never Go Back” cost $60 million to make, the same budget as its predecessor, and a rarity for sequels, which usually see costs escalate as star salaries rise with each successive installment.
Universal’s “Ouija: Origin of Evil” is nipping at Jack Reacher’s heels, and looking to bring in $17 million. That would be a strong result given the film’s $9 million budget and another win for Blumhouse, the horror movie maker behind the film and the producer of such low-cost hits as “Sinister” and “Paranormal Activity.” The first “Ouija” debuted to $19.9 million in 2014, going on to make $103.6 million globally. “Origin of Evil” should benefit from stronger reviews. Critics loathed the first film, handing it a 7% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but they’ve been more susceptible to the follow-up. The new “Ouija” enjoys a 91% “fresh” rating on the review aggregation service. “Origin of Evil” will unspool across 3,167 North American theaters.
Tyler Perry will once again slip on Madea’s coke-bottle glasses, pearls, and frosted locks in a new, seasonally appropriate adventure. “Boo!” satirizes the horror genre, and though it’s unlikely to be joining the Criterion Collection any time soon, Perry’s fans are a loyal bunch. The Madea movies have made nearly $380 million globally, and “Boo!” looks likely to keep the franchise alive. The film should open to $15 million, but it’s possible that Madea lovers could turn out in force, even pushing the film past the “Jack Reacher” and “Ouija” sequels. Lionsgate is releasing “Boo!” in approximately 2,100 North American locations. The film cost $20 million to make.
Last weekend’s champ, “The Accountant,” should drop roughly 50% from its $24.7 million debut. The Ben Affleck thriller is looking to generate $14 million in its sophomore round.
Despite audiences’ distaste for the tried and true, one of the weekend’s only original offerings, Fox’s “Keeping Up With the Joneses” is facing fierce headwinds. The action comedy with Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, and Zach Galifianakis, is on pace to bow to a muted $7 million from 3,022 locations.
Pure Flix, which releases religious-themed films, will also debut “I’m Not Ashamed” in 503 theaters. The picture is about Rachel Joy Scott, one of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting. It should make $2 million in its first weekend.