Weekend Box Office (February 12 - 15, 2016)
THIS WEEKEND Hollywood assaults North American audiences with laughter as three very different comedies open with shows starting at 7pm Thursday night over the long Presidents' Day holiday weekend which also includes Valentine's Day falling on Sunday making for four days of heavy traffic. Fox unleashes its superhero flick Deadpool, Paramount offers the sequel Zoolander 2 and Warner Bros. counters with the dating world saga How To Be Single. Those wanting more serious fare have plenty of Oscar contenders to choose from while families still get Kung Fu Panda 3 for entertainment.
The comic book movie genre gets a big shakeup with the arrival of Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds which has been earning some of the best reviews of any recent superhero flick. Standing out as a unique product, this action-comedy uses its R rating with pride and will offer something new and refreshing to those who believe that comic book flicks pop up way too often on studio release schedules. The marketing push has been terrific and consumer excitement is feverish.
Advance ticket sales have been red hot over the past two weeks with fans planning out their trips to the multiplexes and sales for IMAX and other PLF screens have been brisk. Solid word of mouth should keep this one going day to day throughout the long weekend. Look for one of the best Presidents' Day weekend openings of all-time and probably one of the top ten R debuts ever. Broader appeal beyond the comic crowd may be challenging at first since two other more mainstream comedies are opening at the same time but positive buzz will help over time. Launching in 3,558 theaters, Deadpool might take in about $66M over the Friday-to-Monday holiday session.
Of this long weekend's new choices, Paramount boasts the most starpower and cross-gender appeal with the sequel Zoolander 2 which just happens to be the only one of the three to not be rated R. The PG-13 satirical comedy arrives 14+ years after Ben Stiller's first pic and reunites him with Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell while adding Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig to the mix. Being a cult favorite to many, the Zoolander brand should pull in audiences in the short term though there may be no legs here. Reviews have been more on the negative side. This is one of those sequels that wasn't asked for by many, but of this weekend's new options, it should have the most appeal with both men and women. Opening in 3,394 locations, Zoolander 2 could debut to around $20M over four days.
Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, and Leslie Mann headline How To Be Single, a new comedy exploring the dating world in New York City. The R-rated pic looks to skew heavily towards adult white women and may grab business from the girls-night-out crowd. Starpower is mixed and reviews are lackluster, but fans of the book may help the Warner Bros. release carve out a decent slice of the pie. New Line and MGM produced. The two other new releases will provide comedy competition so there is a ceiling here to potential. Opening in 3,343 theaters, How To Be Single may capture about $16M over the four-day weekend.
Doing what its two predecessors failed to do, Kung Fu Panda 3 ruled the box office for two weekends but will now get bumped back a few spots. The holiday frame will still allow the DreamWorks Animation title to attract a sizable crowd especially since all the new offerings are aimed at older audiences. Kids only really have Po and Chewbacca this weekend. The four-day gross may slip by 15% from last weekend's three-day score and finish at about $18M. That would up the Fox cume to $93M.
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LAST YEAR The Presidents' Day holiday weekend roared to life with a pair of big debuts. Universal kicked off what would be a monster year for the studio with Fifty Shades of Grey which bowed to a stellar $93M over four days smashing the February opening weekend record. Fox enjoyed some success of its own with another R-rated entry, the spy actioner Kingsman: The Secret Service, which premiered to $41.8M over the long holiday weekend. Final grosses reached $166.2M and $128.3M, respectively. Holdovers followed with The SpongeBob Movie dropping from first place with a hefty $40M over four days. American Sniper made $18.8M and Jupiter Ascending collected $10.8M.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: February 11, 2016 at 4:10PM ET
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