Ticket sales could grind to a halt over Super Bowl weekend, a notoriously quiet time of year at the box office.
Two new movies are opening — Paramount’s spy thriller “The Rhythm Section” and Orion Pictures’ fantasy adventure “Gretel & Hansel” — though each is expected to make less than $10 million. Since the Super Bowl is the most-watched TV event of the year, studios shied away from releasing any blockbuster-hopefuls, assuming America’s attention will shift to the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
“The overwhelming attention paid to the Super Bowl over the entire weekend has traditionally made this a weekend that belongs more to football and less to the movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore.
Instead, Sony’s action comedy “Bad Boys for Life” should rule box office charts for the third weekend in a row. The latest entry in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led franchise has been an unexpectedly strong draw in theaters, having earned $122 million in the U.S. and $217 million worldwide to date. “Bad Boys for Life” could add $15 million to $18 million in its fourth frame, which should easily be enough to rule over the competition.
Blake Lively and Jude Law star in “Rhythm Section,” an R-rated action drama about a woman investigating a plane crash that killed her family. The film aims to collect $4 million to $8 million when it opens in 3,000 theaters. That could be cause for concern since “Rhythm Section,” 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. It has gotten mediocre reviews, though critics like Variety’s Peter Debruge are praising Lively’s performance. However, the lack of chatter could signal that “Rhythm Section” might be better suited for in-flight entertainment.
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This weekend’s other newcomer, “Gretel & Hansel,” will also likely fly under the radar. The dark take on the classic Brothers Grimm folklore is eyeing a single digit start around $7 million from 3,000 venues. While that’s an uninspired opening weekend, director Oz Perkins’ adaptation cost roughly $5 million to produce, meaning it has a smaller battle to get out of the red. 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.
While January is traditionally one of the slower months at multiplexes, this year has seen a slight resurgence with box office receipts up over 12% 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.