×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Box Office Preview: Can ‘The Meg’ Chew Off a Monster Debut?

The dog days of summer are upon us.

And no, not just because “Dog Days,” the canine comedy starring Finn Wolfhard, Nina Dobrev, and Vanessa Hudgens, opens on Wednesday. Unless “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” remains exceptionally strong in its third outing, it looks like a low-$20 million debut from Warner Bros.’ big-budget shark thriller “The Meg” will be enough to nab the top slot at the domestic box office.

Will “The Meg” be worth the wait? Estimates show the action feature about a prehistoric Megaladon shark is targeting between $20 million and $22 million when it opens on over 3,900 screens. That’s not a promising start for a movie that’s been in development for over two decades and now carries a hefty $150 million price tag. Even so, Warner Bros. isn’t sweating just yet. “The Meg,” directed by Jon Turteltaub, is a co-production with China, meaning the studio is banking on big returns overseas from a simultaneous opening in the Middle Kingdom this weekend.

The movie follows Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, and, in an effort to bolster its Sino appeal, Chinese star Li Bingbing as a group of scientists who attempt to stop the 75-foot beast from terrorizing a beach. Ah, summer.

It hopes to follow in the footsteps of another expensive film engineered for international appeal, Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper.” Universal’s action adventure launched in North America with a tepid $24 million, but made double that its opening weekend in China ($48 million). To date, it’s generated a $215 million abroad, and only $64 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, Spike Lee is hoping to capture the zeitgeist with his timely Cannes Grand Prix winner “BlacKkKlansman.” The crime drama, with a debut that coincides with the first anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally, is targeting $8 million to $10 million at 1,500 locations. That would be Lee’s best opening by far since 2006’s “Inside Man” launched with $28 million. His latest outing, “Chi-Raq,” picked up $2.5 million during its limited theatrical run ahead of an Amazon release.

Jason Blum and Jordan Peele co-produced the Focus Features title, which tells the true story of black detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who goes undercover — with the help of Jewish cop Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) — to infiltrate the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Critics are calling “BlacKkKlansman” a return to form for the director, praising it as Lee’s best movie in years.

Also bowing in wide release is Sony’s “Slender Man.” It didn’t take quite as long as “The Meg” to make it to the big screen, but its gestation was certainly rocky. The low-budget horror pic could open anywhere from $8 million to $16 million, as the genre can be difficult to track. Sylvain White directed the supernatural thriller based on the internet legend of the boogeyman-like creature who traumatizes children. “Slender Man” stars Joey King, Jaz Sinclair, and Julia Goldani Telles.

At the specialty box office, Sundance titles “Skate Kitchen” and “Madeline’s Madeline” are opening in limited release. The former, directed by “The Wolfpack” helmer Crystal Moselle, features Jaden Smith, Rachelle Vinberg, Dede Lovelace, and Nina Moran, and follows a female skater crew. The latter stars Molly Parker and Helena Howard as a director and a young aspiring actress who spearhead a new project.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Noele trailer Anna Kendrick

    Disney Unveils 'Noelle' Trailer Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader

    Among the many announcements at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted the first look at holiday feature “Noelle,” which is set to premiere exclusively on Disney Plus this fall. “It isn’t Christmas without Santa’s Sister,” Walt Disney Studios said of the film on Twitter. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, the Christmas flick tells the story [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie Austria

    Film News Roundup: Austin Festival Selects Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    In today’s film news roundup, the Austin Film Festival selects a Terrence Malick title, “A Day Without a Mexican” gets a sequel and DCR Finance signs a first-look deal. FESTIVAL SCREENING The Austin Film Festival will screen Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” which won the Francois Chalais and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Moved Back to 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved the release date of Blake Lively’s “The Rhythm Section” back two months from Nov. 22 to Jan. 31, 2020, the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. The spy tale, adapted from Mark Burnell’s novels surrounding character Stephanie Patrick, is produced by James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their [...]

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    'Angel Has Fallen' to Dominate Modest Box Office With $20 Million Weekend

    Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are leading the way at the North American box office with “Angel Has Fallen” on its way to about $20 million, early estimates showed Friday. Should forecasts hold, “Angel Has Fallen” will take in about double the next title, Universal’s second weekend of raunchy comedy “Good Boys” with about $10 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content