Call it an end of summer box office dump, but busy movie theater marquees are about to get even more crowded.
That’s because five films — Disney-Fox’s tear-jerker “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” Warner Bros. and New Line’s heist thriller “The Kitchen,” Paramount’s kiddy pic “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” Lionsgate, CBS Films and eOne’s adaptation of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” and Bleecker Street’s sports drama “Brian Banks” — will be opening nationwide this weekend. The newcomers won’t just be competing against each other, they will also be contending with holdovers including Universal’s “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Disney’s “The Lion King” and Sony and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Hollywood studios are hoping the diverse range of genres incentivize moviegoers young and old to venture out to theaters. And multiplexes could certainly use the boost. Right now Disney is enjoying a record string of billion-dollar blockbusters, but box office receipts are still down over 6% from the same time last year, according to Comscore. Even with huge hits like “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the summer moviegoing frame is behind 2018 by about 1%.
This weekend’s avalanche of movies could make it harder for individual titles grab audiences’ attention, though a number of sleeper hits have triumphed in past Augusts, including “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Meg,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Some of the edgiest, most interesting and fulfilling films of the summer [will be] hitting theaters in this home-stretch period of the season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore. “It’s the most punk rock of all of the summer months.”
Even with an influx of new releases, “Hobbs & Shaw” is expected to rule again in North America. The big-budget action adventure, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, could score another $24 million if it sees a second weekend hold similar to past “Fast & Furious” entries. Since opening last weekend, “Hobbs & Shaw” has generated $65 million at the domestic box office and $119 million internationally. The Rock and fast cars are a huge draw overseas, but the movie will still need to stay in pole position to justify its muscular $200 million production budget.
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” look likely to have the best launches among fresh offerings. The latter, based on the children’s book series of short horror tales, is anticipating a start between $14 million and $19 million when it unspools on over 3,000 screens. The PG-13 thriller, produced by “The Shape of Water” director Guillermo del Toro, takes place in a small town that harbors a horrible secret.
Dora the Explorer’s big-screen debut is tracking a similar start and should make $15 million to $19 million from 3,500 locations. The live-action comedy follows Dora (Isabela Moner), who embarks on her most ambitious adventure yet — high school. After her parents (portrayed by Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) go missing, she rallies her loyal monkey sidekick Boots, her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and a mysterious jungle inhabitant (Eugenio Derbez) to solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold. The PG movie could entice families, but it’ll also have to face headwinds from “The Lion King,” which continues to have a strong showing in theaters.
Meanwhile, “The Kitchen” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain” will vie to earn a spot in the top five. “The Kitchen,” starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss, certainly has no shortage of star power, but estimates are indicating a start around $9 million to $14 million from 2,745 venues, a so-so figure given the high-wattage cast. The trio portrays the wives of Irish mobsters who take matters into their own hands after the FBI arrests their husbands. Andrea Berloff wrote and directed the film, which also features Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale and Brian d’Arcy James.
“The Art of Racing in the Rain,” the latest leftover from Fox, is expected to make $8 million to $10 million from 2,700 locations. The family friendly film, based on the popular novel by Garth Stein, follows a smarter-than-your-average dog (voiced by Kevin Costner) reflecting back on his relationship with his human owners, played by Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried.
Rounding out the weekend is “Brian Banks,” which tells the true story of an All-American high school football star (Aldis Hodge), who fights to reclaim his freedom after he’s wrongly convicted of a crime. It’s looking at a single digit debut of around $3 million to $4 million from 1,237 screens.
The indie box office is similarly stacked with new titles. Roadside Attractions’ comedic drama “The Peanut Butter Falcon” starring Shia LaBeouf, Amazon’s documentary “One Child Nation” and Sony Classics remake of “After the Wedding” with Julianne Moore are all opening in limited release.