Box Office: ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Patriot’s Day’ in Tight Race, ‘Monster Trucks,’ ‘Live by Night’ Brace to Flop

Hidden Figures
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

A mixture of prestige films, blockbuster hopefuls, and passion projects will hit theaters over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. It promises to be a crowded time at the multiplexes with three new films bowing and several awards hopefuls expanding nationwide.

“They’re going to be lined up like airplanes coming in for landing,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “There’s going to be a lot of moviegoing, but the fragmentation of the audience will impact ticket sales.”

When the dust clears, Fox’s “Hidden Figures” may be able to hold off the new contenders to capture the top slot for the second consecutive weekend. The historical drama about a team of African-American NASA employees who grappled with prejudice in the early days of the space program is eyeing a $20 million second weekend. It will be a close race for first. CBS Films and Lionsgate’s “Patriot’s Day” is looking strong as it expands from seven theaters to more than 2,900 locations. The film documents the Boston Marathon bombing and stars native son Mark Wahlberg as a courageous (albeit amalgamated) police officer. It should open to $18 million over the four-day holiday — a healthy debut considering its $40 million budget. It’s also welcome news for Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, whose previous effort, “Deepwater Horizon,” bombed when it opened last fall.

There are a number of formidable holdovers still loitering around the cinema. Fresh off its Golden Globes sweep, “La La Land” should continue to pack them in and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” remains a force. Fandango reports that “La La Land,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Patriot’s Day” are virtually neck-and-neck in terms of advance ticket sales with “Patriot’s Day” having a slight edge.

“Bye Bye Man,” a PG-13 horror film, and “Sleepless,” an action-thriller with Jamie Foxx, are eyeing debuts of $10 million and $8 million, respectively. STX backed “Bye Bye Man,” which focuses on the discovery of a shadowy figure responsible for evil acts, while Open Road is distributing “Sleepless,” the story of a morally compromised detective whose family is threatened.

The weekend’s other new release, Paramount’s “Monster Trucks,” is shaping up to be a huge bomb. The studio has already taken an $115 million write-down on the family film and is eyeing a debut of between $8 million and $10 million. That’s a disastrous result for a film with a $125 million price tag. “Monster Trucks” focuses on a high school student (Lucas Till) whose truck gets taken over by a CGI monster.

The studio will also expand “Silence,” a religious epic that Martin Scorsese has labored for two decades to bring to the screen. The story of Jesuit priests in feudal Japan will expand to 750 locations after making $913,000 in limited release. It cost $40 million to make and will do less than $10 million worth of business, a weak result given its budget.

Then there’s Warner Bros.’ “Live by Night.” The Ben Affleck-directed gangster picture is looking DOA after sputtering in limited release. The film should do roughly $10 million when it unfolds across approximately 2,700 screens. With a budget of at least $65 million, “Live by Night” is shaping up to be a dud. Affleck will have to look to “Justice League” and “The Batman” to recapture his box office mojo.