Box Office Guy

Patrick Reardon

The incel and troll community suffered a devastating blow last weekend when "Captain Marvel" opened up with a towering $153.4m (the third highest March opening of all time). Unfortunately the incels and trolls should be able to regroup in time to target the next potential blockbuster that doesn't meet their high casting standards. Perhaps "Men in Black International" this June?

"Captain Marvel" will have no problem staying atop the box office this weekend but a trio of new wide releases will attempt to carve out some business of their own. I believe two of them will put up very modest numbers while the third appears to be dead on arrival.

Up first is Paramount's animated film "Wonder Park" which tells the tale of an amusement park that is fueled by a young girls imagination. Based on the marketing I've seen it looks like a hacky, non-union version of "Inside Out." Nothing about this project screams "special" and Paramount has historically struggled with trying to figure out animation.

The best comp is Paramount's "Sherlock Gnomes" which debuted last March to the tune of $10.6m on its way to a final domestic tally of $43.2m. I expect "Wonder Park" to fall right around this number because of its high theater count (an estimated 3,500) and lack of new family friendly films this weekend. It's not horribly priced at FB$146 but I wouldn't go all in on it. At best I'd use it to supplement a 2x "Captain Marvel" strategy.

Also opening wide this weekend is the teen drama "Five Feet Apart." Lionsgate is clearly targeting teenage audiences (many of whom are on spring break) with this film about a pair of teens with cystic fibrosis falling in love. The young adult drama "Love, Simon" enjoyed modest success on this weekend last year ($11.8m opening) and I expect similar numbers from "Five Feet Apart."

Other recent teen dramas have also opened up in this range ("Paper Towns" $12.5m opening, "Everything, Everything" $11.7m opening) so the floor for "Five Feet Apart" feels pretty safe. And I believe it's the only one of this weeks new wide releases that even has a chance of over-performing. It's reasonably priced at FB$155 but much like "Wonder Park" I wouldn't go all in on it. At best I'd use it 1x to supplement some combo of "Captain Marvel."

The final new wide release, "Captive State," is the least promising of the newcomers. I'm not sure why it's apparently dead on arrival. It has a solid cast (John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, Ashton Sanders, a plethora of "that guys"s, etc.), a good director (Rupert Wyatt of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"), and an intriguing trailer:

If I had to fancy a guess I'd say that Focus knew that they had a dud on their hands and didn't want to throw good money after bad with an expensive marketing blitz. Which is a shame since all of the elements were there on paper. Even with a low cost of FB$55 the floor for this film is potentially disastrous which is why I'm steering clear.

With the gap between first and second place bound to be enormous the FML pricing gods have wisely split "Captain Marvel" into daily pricing once again. Right now I'm leaning towards a strategy of 2x "Captain Marvel" Saturday, 1x "Five Feet Apart" for its upside and filler. I was tempted by the potential value of the "Captain Marvel" Sunday option but I think there are a couple of distractions (St. Patrick's Day shenanigans and college basketball tournaments) that will tilt a little more business towards Saturday.

Weekend Picks

My picks for this weekend's top 5 in total box office (this week's cost in FML Bux in parentheses):

  1. Captain Marvel - Saturday (FB$375)
  2. Captain Marvel - Sunday (FB$278)
  3. Captain Marvel - Friday (FB$251)
  4. Wonder Park (FB$146)
  5. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (FB$138)

Bonus Pick of the Week: "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" (FB$138) I don't see an obvious bonus pick this week. But for the last two weeks the bonus winner was the worst performer the week prior. So here's hoping that last weeks worst performer ("HTTYD") makes it a hat trick.

Coming Attractions

Ever since the first trailer for Jordan Peele's "Us" dropped last December I've been dying to see it. Based on the audience buzz out of SXSW last week I expect that I'm not alone. Big box office numbers are imminent.

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