The horror sequel “Blair Witch” opened with a moderate $765,000 at more than 2,300 U.S. locations on Thursday night.
Open Road’s biopic “Snowden” rolled out with $390,000 on Thursday night and “Bridget Jones’s Baby” also launched to a modest sum of $364,000 in Thursday night shows in 2,208 theaters with showings that began at 7 p.m.
Lionsgate’s “Blair Witch” has the best prospects of topping the second weekend of Tom Hanks’ “Sully” with recent projections at as much as $23 million at 3,121 locations in what’s expected to be a tight contest. Lionsgate has been forecasting a launch in the $16 million to $18 million range for “Blair Witch,” which carries a budget of well under $10 million.
“Sully” has taken in $45.7 million in its first six days and carries plenty of strong word of mouth, having generated an A CinemaScore on its opening weekend.
Universal’s romantic comedy sequel “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is also launching with expectations in the $12 million to $16 million range at 2,927 sites. “Snowden” is debuting with forecasts in the $8 million to $10 million range at 2,443 locations.
Warner Bros.’ “Sully,” which overperformed with $35 million on its opening weekend, set daily records for the largest Tuesday and Wednesday grosses in September.
“Blair Witch” is debuting after a summer that saw horror movies deliver solid performances throughout the summer such as “The Conjuring 2,” “The Purge: Election Year,” “Lights Out” and “Don’t Breathe.”
Lionsgate revealed “Blair Witch” in July at Comic-Con at what had been billed as a screening of “The Woods,” releasing a poster and trailer. The updated story, directed by Adam Wingard, is set in the remote Maryland woods where three filmmakers disappeared 20 years ago.
“Blair Witch” is the third film in the franchise. It premiered on Sept. 11 at the Toronto Film Festival.
The first film, 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project,” was directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick with a production budget of $60,000. After debuting at Sundance, Artisan released the movie, which became a box office sensation with nearly $250 million in worldwide grosses.
The 2000 sequel, “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” was directed by Joe Berlinger and followed a group of people going into the woods to investigate the witch and coming unglued. Artisan budgeted $15 million for the film, which grossed $48 million worldwide.
“Bridget Jones’s Baby” is a $35 million production from Universal, StudioCanal, Miramax and Working Title with Renée Zellweger in the third installment in the series, a dozen years after “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” was released. The film also marks the return of Colin Firth, with Patrick Dempsey and Emma Thompson as newcomers.
Sharon Maguire, who also directed the original “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” is the helmer in the new movie in which Bridget is unexpectedly pregnant. Both “Bridget Jones” movies grossed more than $200 million abroad. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is being released in 40 territories this weekend.
Reviews have been mostly positive with a current 76% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Snowden,” directed by Oliver Stone and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as N.S.A. whistleblower Edward Snowden, carries a $40 million price tag. “Snowden,” which premiered on Sept. 9 at the Toronto Film Festival, has generated mixed reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 58%.
Pure Flix documentary “Hillsong: Let Hope Rise” is expected to take in about $3 million on its debut in 815 locations.