“In the Heights,” the big-screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical, is poised to light up the U.S. box office.
Debuting this weekend in 3,400 U.S. cinemas, the Warner Bros. film is expecting to generate around $20 million. However, tracking has indicated the final tally could range between $16 million and $30 million in its first four days of release. “In the Heights” is getting a jump on the weekend by opening in theaters and on HBO Max on Thursday.
After a devastating year for movie theaters, attendance is starting to pick up and cinema owners are beginning to regain their mojo. In the last few weeks, “A Quiet Place Part II” and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” have notched notable ticket sales — a trend that Hollywood is hoping will continue throughout the summer with “F9,” “Black Widow” and other would-be blockbusters.
One reason that ticket sales for “In the Heights” are especially tricky to predict is because musicals can be a mixed bag at the box office. Though the Tony Award-winning “In the Heights” isn’t an original property like “The Greatest Showman,” it’s not as well known as “Hamilton,” “Rent” or even “Cats.” In the case of “In the Heights,” however, it comes armed with stellar reviews and a strong 96% Rotten Tomatoes average. Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge called the movie “a blast,” while IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote “Seeing this massive, guileless, heartfelt piece of Hollywood entertainment on the big screen is like coming home after a long year in exile only to find that it’s still there, and maybe even better than you remembered.”
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Directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” filmmaker Jon M. Chu, “In the Heights” centers on a bodega owner named Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who discovers his mom-and-pop stop-and-shop has sold a winning lottery ticket. The ensemble cast also includes Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins and Olga Merediz. Miranda, who composed the 2008 stage show and portrayed the main character, produced the film and appears in a cameo role. Quiara Alegría Hudes, who penned the book of the musical, wrote the movie’s screenplay. The movie carries a $55 million production budget.
As the rare studio movie to feature a predominately Latino cast, Warner Bros. been building anticipation with sneak previews and influencer screenings. In an effort to push for what’s become known as a “Gold Open,” the nonprofit Gold House, an organization that championed “Crazy Rich Asians” at the box office, has partnered with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers to secure a “Latinx Gold Open.” Through theater buyouts, bulk ticket purchases and social media campaigns, the goal is to ensure Latino-driven films have successful opening weekends and inspire Hollywood to greenlight more movies headlined by people of color.
“In the Heights” is expected to lead box office charts, but it won’t be the only new nationwide release. Sony’s “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” is launching in 3,300 U.S. locations. The live-action/animated family film is expected to rake $10 million over the weekend, with some estimates showing that ticket sales could reach $17 million in its first three days of release. “Peter Rabbit 2” has already kicked off internationally with $45 million in ticket sales to date. It cost $45 million to produce.
Directed by Will Gluck, “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” sees the return of the furry rogue bunny. In the sequel, Peter finds himself unable to shake his mischievous reputation. He ventures out of the garden and finds himself in a world where his antics are appreciated, but he has to reconsider the cost when his family risks everything to come looking for him. The voice cast includes James Corden as Peter Rabbit, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo.
The all-audience “In the Heights” and the family-centric “Peter Rabbit 2” should serve as effective counter-programming against recently released horror movies “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” and “A Quiet Place: Part II.” Meanwhile, several films will premiere in limited release including the comedy “Queen Bees” with Ellen Burstyn and James Caan, as well as the IFC Films drama “Holler” starring Pamela Adlon.