Paramount’s spy thriller “The Rhythm Section,” starring Blake Lively, opened quietly with $235,000 at 2,256 North American locations on Thursday night.
Horror fantasy “Gretel & Hansel” also launched on Thursday, but Orion Pictures did not report preview numbers.
The new entries are expected to generate only modest returns of less than $10 million during the typically quiet Super Bowl weekend while Sony’s action comedy “Bad Boys for Life” tops box office charts for the third weekend in a row. The third iteration of the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence franchise should take in between $15 million and $20 million, followed by Universal’s sixth frame of World War I drama “1917” in the $10 million to $12 million range.
Lively teams with Jude Law in “Rhythm Section,” an R-rated action drama about a woman investigating a plane crash that killed her family. It’s been forecast to open in the $4 million to $8 million range at 3,049 theaters. Critics have been unimpressed with “Rhythm Section,” which carries a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film, produced by “James Bond” mainstays Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, carries a $50 million price tag. Reed Morano (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) directed the movie, which was delayed twice after Lively injured her hand on set.
Expectations are similarly downbeat for “Gretel & Hansel,” a dark take on the classic Brothers Grimm folklore with forecasts in the vicinity of $7 million from 3,007 venues. The film, directed by Oz Perkins, is not a high-risk proposition, given its $5 million production price tag. Sophia Lillis (“It,” “Sharp Objects”) portrays Gretel in the new version of the fairytale about a young girl and her brother, who accidentally find themselves in the house of an evil enchantress.
“Bad Boys for Life,” which has grossed more than $128 million in its first two weeks, has triggered a resurgence, with box office receipts up 9.6% from last year, according to Comscore. Exhibitors are bullish that February will kick off on a high note when Warner Bros.’ comic-book adaptation “Birds of Prey” hits the big screen.
Studios tend to view the Super Bowl weekend as a dead zone, opting to hold off on releasing buzzy titles — such as “Birds of Prey.” As a result, the overall Super Bowl weekend box office has been under $100 million for the past four years. The 2019 weekend totaled a meager $75 million, led by the third frame of “Glass” with a tepid $9.5 million.
Several studios are planning to use the Super Bowl LIV telecast to highlight upcoming releases such as Paramount’s “A Quiet Place” sequel and “Sonic the Hedgehog.”
“Though this is not traditionally known as the Super Bowl of movie weekends, the telecast for the Big Game provides a chance for Hollywood to trade a bit of short-term box office pain for the hopes of long-term gain, with studios jumping at the chance to have trailers for some of their biggest upcoming blockbusters presented to a massive television audience with an eye toward sparking excitement for these high-profile upcoming releases,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore.