Box Office Guy

Patrick Reardon

Last weekend Paramount Pictures proved that if you cater to small children and pretend that you care about the thoughts of forty-year-old children, you can hit box the box office jackpot as evidenced by "Sonic The Hedgehog" running away with $70m over the long President's Day holiday. The furry blue man shouldn't have any problem staying on top of the box office since neither of this weekend's new releases appear to have much momentum.

The more promising newcomer this weekend is the latest adaptation of the classic Jack London novel "The Call of the Wild." Although it's been a long time since this was adapted for the big screen (a 1935 version starring Clark Gable) the "notable actor starring alongside a snow dog(s)" subgenre has been modestly successful over the past thirty years:

1991 - White Fang ($5.6m opening, $34.7m domestic total, $75m adjusted for inflation)

2002 - Snow Dogs ($17.8m opening, $81.2m domestic total, $127m adjusted for inflation)

2006 - Eight Below ($20.2m opening, $81.6m domestic total, $113m adjusted for inflation)

Seeing as "The Call of the Wild" is the text that inspired this subgenre and Harrison Ford is the biggest star to appear in one of these films (no offence to Ethan Hawke, Cuba Gooding Jr. & Paul Walker) this should be headed to a box office gold rush, no? Unfortunately, I'm not seeing it. While Ford's presence gives the film some credibility, he's way past his apex as a box office draw. The last time he was the lead in a genuine hit where he didn't play a space smuggler or an archeologist was "What Lies Beneath" way back in the year 2000.

Plus other recent dog themed movies haven't connected at the box office ("The Art of Racing in the Rain" $26.4m domestic total, "A Dog's Journey" $22.8m domestic total). I think this movie will get a lot of looks on Disney+ in the very near future, but I don't see a massive opening this weekend. I see "The Call of the Wild" opening in the low/mid teens this weekend. Which isn't terrible, but it's not good enough to justify the FB$344 price tag. So I'm leaning away from "The Call of the Wild" and it honestly has nothing to do with the CGI dog.

The only other new release this weekend is the horror sequel "Brahms: The Boy II." Back in January 2016, "The Boy" put up decent numbers relative to its meager budget ($10.8m opening, $35.8m domestic total). With numbers like that I was expecting a straight to video sequel (or five). But apparently it did just well enough to justify a theatrical release.

Katie Holmes steps into the lead role in "Brahms" but I don't think she is going to move the needle. Based on the trailer, it looks like the film is more of the same so it's probably only going to appeal to die hard fans of the horror genre. And, while I'm usually reluctant to count horror movies out, 2020 has been tough sledding for the genre thus far. Granted, we're less than two months into 2020 but "Gretel & Hansel" ($6.2m opening), "The Turning" ($7m opening) and "Fantasy Island" ($12.3m opening) all struggled to find an audience. The horror genre is in a bit of a rut right now and I don't see "Brahms" doing much to break the trend.

But those damn FML pricing gods have made it tough to ignore "Brahms" with an enticing cost of FB$105. Which means it only needs to perform like "The Turning" to be a potentially valid play this weekend. My gut tells me no but you better believe I'll be watching those Thursday numbers closely to determine just how crazy a "Brahms" blackout strategy will be.

Since I'm not sold on either newcomer this weekend (unless a certain wooden doll is particularly feisty on Thursday night) I'm forced to sift through the holdovers. It's really a question of how far you think "Sonic" is going to drop. If you believe "Sonic" is going to keep its slide to 50% or less that makes it an obvious choice for an anchor. If you expect "Sonic" to utterly collapse some combination of "The Call of the Wild" and "Parasite" could be a decent strategy. However all bets are off after Thursday night if looks like that creepy ass "Brahms" has to goods to clear the $7m mark.

Weekend Picks

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

  1. Sonic The Hedgehog (FB$576)
  2. The Call of the Wild (FB$344)
  3. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (FB$167)
  4. Bad Boys For Life (FB$127)
  5. Brahms: The Boy II (FB$105)

Bonus Pick of the Week: "Brahms: The Boy II" (FB$105) As discussed this is purely about the pricing. Watch those Thursday numbers like a hawk. It only needs to get to the $6m-$7m range to be a factor in the bonus hunt. Come on "Brahms," can you honestly not match "Gretel & Hansel" or "The Turning?" This is why people keep burying you in the yard.

Coming Attractions

Hollywood has been churning out "Invisible Man" movies since 1933. However, it's been a long time since we've had a good one. "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" (which ended Chevy Chase's run as a bankable movie star), "Hollow Man" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" have set the bar incredibly low. I think Blumhouse's take on "The Invisible Man" is poised to soar over this bar next weekend.

Follow me on Twitter @TheBoxOfficeGuy