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Box Office: Helen Mirren’s ‘Winchester’ Aims for Top of Moderate Super Bowl Weekend

Helen Mirren’s gothic horror-thriller “Winchester” has a decent shot at topping the moderate Super Bowl weekend with as much as $11 million at 2,480 North American sites, early estimates showed Friday.

Updated projections showed that “Winchester,” released in a partnership of CBS Films and Lionsgate, was going to top the second weekend of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” and the seventh session of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” — both in the $10 million range. Those three could easily switch positions by the end of the weekend, with “Winchester” currently in a range between $9 million and $11 million — but it’s clear that the winner will have the lowest total since the second weekend of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” led the last weekend in August with $10.3 million.

“Winchester” opened with $615,000 in Thursday night previews, which are included in its Friday total of more than $4 million. Similar recent titles include “Rings,” which took in $800,000 in previews on its way to a $13 million weekend a year ago, and 2016’s “Blair Witch” with $765,000 in previews at the start of a $9.6 million weekend.

Recent forecasts had pegged “Winchester,” directed by the Spierig brothers, with a debut in the $6 million to $8 million range. Mirren portrays Sarah Winchester, the heiress to the Winchester fortune who began construction of the Northern California house in 1886 and continued building over the next 38 years. The mansion, which stands seven stories tall, contains hundreds of rooms — meant to be an asylum for vengeful ghosts.

CBS Films bought the movie rights for $3.5 million. Critics have been unimpressed with “Winchester” so far — it’s opening with a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox’s “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” the finale of the dystopian trilogy, easily topped last weekend with $24.2 million at 3,787 sites. It added $6.4 million over the next four weekdays as it led each day. The film’s release was delayed for a year due to injuries that Dylan O’Brien suffered in 2016 on the set.

Sony’s seventh frame of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” could wind up topping the chart for the fourth time, given its remarkable holding power. The action-comedy declined only 17% in its previous frame and finished with $16 million. The action-comedy, which is still playing at 3,352 locations, has been one of the biggest surprise hits in memory with a dazzling $341.6 million domestically after 44 days — the 45th-highest gross of all time.

“Jumanji” is the key factor that’s kept the overall 2018 domestic box office nearly even with last year at $955 million through Jan. 31 — down only 0.9%, according to comScore.

Studios are reluctant to open major releases on Super Bowl weekend, leading to slow performance. On the same weekend in 2017, the third frame of “Split” led with $14.4 million, edging Paramount’s launch of “Rings” ($13 million). Overall business was off 42% from the prior frame with $99.5 million, the eighth-slowest weekend of the year, according to comScore.

Another holdover film, Fox’s “The Greatest Showman,” is heading for fourth place this weekend with about $7 million at 2,663 venues. The Hugh Jackman musical, which declined only 10% last weekend, has grossed nearly $130 million domestically after 44 days.

Business should pick up on Feb. 9 when Universal launches “Fifty Shades Freed,” with tracking showing an opening of at least $35 million. Sony is also debuting the CGI/live-action “Peter Rabbit” and Warner Bros. will debut Clint Eastwood’s real-life thriller “15:17 to Paris.” And the Feb. 16 launch of “Black Panther” will be a tonic to the box office with early tracking showing an opening of as much as $150 million over the Presidents Day weekend.

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