“Winchester” is the only new title launching on Super Bowl LII weekend, with Lionsgate partnering with CBS Films on the release in 2,480 theaters. 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.
Forecasts have pegged “Winchester,” directed by the Spierig brothers, with a debut in the $6 million to $8 million range. The film was shot on location at the Winchester House in San Jose, Calif., as well as in Melbourne, Australia.
Mirren portrays Sarah Winchester, the heiress to the Winchester fortune who began construction of the 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 spurned “Winchester” so far and it’s opening with a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fox’s second weekend of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” should repeat as champion of the North American box office, with $11 million to $13 million, during what’s expected to be a typically subdued Super Bowl weekend. The finale of the dystopian trilogy easily topped last weekend with $24.2 million at 3,787 sites and it added $4.3 million over the next three weekdays as it led each day.
Sony’s seventh frame of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” will probably provide the most competition, given its remarkable holding power, and finish in the $10 million range. The action-comedy has dazzled so far this year with $340.8 million domestically after 43 days — the 46th-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 have been reluctant in recent years to open major releases on Super Bowl weekend, leading to holdovers coming out on top. On the same weekend in 2017, the third weekend 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.
The lowest level of business during Super Bowl weekend in the past decade came in 2014 with an $86 million total, comScore records show, led by $12 million for the third weekend of “Ride Along.”
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.”
“Super Bowl weekend provides an interesting bargain for the industry as the expected loss of big-screen customers to this iconic small-screen event is offset by the massive audience that is exposed to trailers for some of the most widely anticipated big-screen content yet to arrive in theaters,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “It’s clearly a worthwhile tradeoff.”