MGM’s animated comedy about the notorious macabre kin is debuting in theaters this weekend alongside Paramount’s “Gemini Man,” an action thriller directed by Ang Lee that stars not one, but two Will Smiths, and CBS Films’ comedy “Jexi” with Adam DeVine. Those movies will contend with last weekend’s champ, Warner Bros.’ “The Joker,” Joaquin Phoenix’s very R-rated take on Batman’s infamous foe that launched with $96.2 million in North America.
Despite three new nationwide releases, “Joker” is expected to nab first place on box office charts again. Though comparisons are difficult since the super-villain adaptation is very different in scope than other comic-book origin stories, “Joker” should add another $42 million to $48 million in its sophomore outing. The R-rated movie, costing $55 million to produce, has been a draw overseas, raking in $152 million at the international box office for a global haul of $248 million.
“Joker” will face steepest competition from “Gemini Man” among its core audience of younger males. After a nearly 20 year gestation to the big screen, “Gemini Man” is aiming to make $24 million and $29 million from 3,600 venues. A third of those venues, roughly 1,400 locations, will accommodate the high frame rate and 3D format that Lee used to show Smith face off against a digitally recreated version of himself de-aged 25 years. Paramount and Skydance Media shelled out $138 million to invest in those hyperrealistic visuals, while Fosun and Alibaba helped finance the movie.
Lee (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Life of Pi”) made a similar cinematic bet with “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was also shot in 120 frames-per-second and suffered since many theaters said their projectors couldn’t screen the film at higher speeds. Lee told Variety he’s hopeful that significant number of the screens allocated for “Gemini Man” will offer the higher frame rates.
However, even audiences who are intrigued by state of the art technology might be dissuaded by tepid reviews. Though critics praised PG-13 thriller’s visuals, most criticized the unwieldy storyline with Variety’s Peter Debruge calling the movie a “high-concept misfire.” “Gemini Man” follows Smith as a hitman who is targeted by a younger clone of himself. David Benioff, one half of the “Game of Thrones” creative duo, wrote the script along with Billy Ray and Darren Lemke. The cast also includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong. “Gemini Man” kicked off at the international box office last weekend with $7 million and plans to expand to 54 international markets, including the United Kingdom, Russia and Mexico.
“The Addams Family” is tracking a similar start to “Gemini Man” and could earn $21 million to $27 million from 4,007 venues. The PG film follows Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday and Pugsley as the Addams family embraces 21st century life in New Jersey. The voice cast includes Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron and Chloe Grace Moretz. “The Addams Family” won’t have much competition on the kid-friendly front since Universal’s animated adventure “Abominable” has been in theaters for three weeks.
Rounding out the weekend is “Jexi,” the last theatrical release by CBS Films before it’s absorbed into CBS Corporation’s Entertainment Group as the entertainment company makes a bigger shift toward streaming with CBS All Access. The comedy, written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, is aiming for single digits around $2 million to $7 million. The comedy follows a man (DeVine) whose life changes in a major way with the help of artificial intelligence.
In the specialty space, Neon is debuting “Parasite,” a darkly comedic thriller from Bong Joon-ho. The universally acclaimed film, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, was selected as South Korea’s entry for best international feature at the Oscars.