“The Lego Batman Movie” appears to be the true hero of the weekend box office, as it faces competition from fellow newcomers and franchise building blocks “Fifty Shades Darker” and “John Wick: Chapter 2.”
Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment’s “Lego Batman” is expecting to wrangle between $20 and $21 million on Friday on its way to a super $74 million-$79 million domestic opening at 4,088 locations. The animated film features the voices of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes. Chris McKay directed the animated adventure written by a five-man team: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, and John Whittington.
Universal’s “Fifty Shades Darker,” which whipped the family film in Thursday previews, should put up a fight on Friday as well in the $17 million-$20 million range. But ultimately the “Fifty Shades of Grey” sequel should end with a three-day total in the range of $39 million-$45 million at 3,710 theaters. James Foley directed “Fifty Shades Darker” based on a script that Niall Leonard adapted from E. L. James’ novel of the same name. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan return as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 2” — perhaps partially due to strong word of mouth — is performing above its early estimates as it shoots for a $11 million-$13 million Friday. By the weekend’s end, the action sequel starring Keanu Reeves should capture between $29 million and $34 million from 3,113 locations.
As with any sequels, this trio will be judged against their original models. In 2015, “Fifty Shades of Grey” opened at No. 1 with $81 million. It went on to earn more than $166 million domestically and about $571 million worldwide. “The Lego Movie” debuted in 2014 at No. 1 with $69 million on its way to becoming a domestic smash hit with $258 million. Its global total topped $469 million. “John Wick” opened in October of 2014 and grossed over $80 million worldwide. It opened at number two in the U.S. with $14 million.