Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!

September comes to a quick end this weekend, and thanks be to all the Gods in the heavens (from both Marvel and DC) that there’s only one new movie in wide release!

ABOMINABLE (DreamWorks/Universal)

Abominable
DreamWorks/Universal

Voice Cast: Chloe Bennet, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Joseph Izzo, Tsai Chin, James Hong, Michelle Wong
Directed By: Jill Culton (Open Season), Todd Wilderman
MPAA Rating: PG

It’s been quite some time since we’ve had any sort of family film in theaters, that is, if you don’t count Disney’s The Lion King, which won’t seem to go away, but other than that, it was just Sony’s The Angry Birds Movie 2, which really didn’t find much of an audience.

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That’s why it’s fortunate that DreamWorks Animation and its new distribution partner Universal have picked this late September date to release its first original animated movie since 2017’s The Boss Baby. Earlier this year, Universal released DWA’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which opened with $55 million – a franchise best opening – and grossed $160.8 million. That’s quite a bit less than the first couple movies grossed but not bad for Universal’s first effort.

Abominable takes place in modern-day China, and it’s about a young girl named Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennett) who goes on an adventure with her cousins to take a young Yeti she names Everest back to his home to Mount Everest.

For those keeping track, this is the THIRD animated movie involving some sort of Big Foot or Yeti, going back to Warner Bros. Animation’s Smallfoot,which opened on this same weekend last year to a moderate $23 million but still ended up grossing $83 million total. Earlier this year, LAIKA released The Missing Link, featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman and Zack Galifianakis, released by U.A. Releasing, and it was one of LAIKA’s biggest bombs, grossing just $16.6 million after a $6 million opening. For comparison, both LAIKA’s Coraline and The Boxtrolls opened with more than Missing Link made in total domestically.

The movie is a big one for actor Chloe Bennet, who most will know as Daisy aka Quake from ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but voicing Yi is her first appearance in movie theaters.  The voice cast also includes Albert Tsai from the popular ABC show that introduced Hustlers’ Constant Wu, and the other bigger name voice actors in the cast are Eddie Izzard and Golden Globe-winning actor Sarah Paulson as the two primary antagonists.

Director Jill Culton previously directed Sony’s Open Season, which actually was one of the first big animated hits in late September, opening with $23.6 million in 2006 and making $85.1 million total. That would be a fantastic benchmark for Abominablealthough you have to consider the 13 years of ticket price inflation that should make that reachable even if there’s less of an audience. Either way, that and Smallfoot and Abominable have too much in common not to consider them strong comparisons, although Smallfoot opened other movies that weekend and against the second weekend of a Jack Black family movie.

It’s doubtful kids will care too much that Abominable is the third Yeti/Sasquatch movie in two years, and parents will just be looking for something to keep the kids entertained as summer has officially ended and school is back in session five days a week. Reviews generally don’t matter for family films, but Abominable has gotten some decent notices since premiering at the Toronto Film Festival.

Sony’s Hotel Transylvania movies have been consistent Sept. record-setters, the first two movies opening with $42.5 and $48.5 million respectively in 2012 and 2015. It shows that the lack of family films in August and September can pay-off, andAbominable should be the latest animated film to benefit.

It seems like the lack of strong family films in the late summer should help Abominable, much like it’s helped other late Sept. animated releases mentioned above, and I think the DreamWorks factor won’t hurt considering the number of $45 to 50 million plus openers the studios has had. Maybe the brand isn’t as solid and reliable as Pixar, but Abominable should be able to bring in a good $25 to 30 million worth of business this weekend and watch strong word-of-mouth and the lack of October family fare help it come close to $100 million.

Also, check out my interview with Chloe Bennett

This is an interesting weekend because while Abominableshouldn’t have any trouble topping the box office, I expect a shake-up where two of last week’s movies will drop more than the thirds, a few movies will likely stay in the same place and I think Hustlerswill move back up into third place from fifth this past weekend.

This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. Abominable (DreamWorks/Universal) – $26.7 million N/A
  2. Downton Abbey (Focus Features) – $16 million -48% (up 1 million)*
  3. Hustlers (STXfilms) – $9.7 million -43%
  4. It: Chapter Two (New Line/WB) – $9 million -48%
  5. Rambo: Last Blood (Lionsgate) – $8.5 million -55%
  6. Ad Astra (20thCentury Fox) – $8.3 million -57%
  7. Judy (Roadside Attractions) – $1.8 million N/A*
  8. Good Boys (Universal) – $1.5 million
  9. The Lion King (Walt Disney) – $1.4 million
  10. Angel Has Fallen (Lionsgate) – $1.2 million

*Judy, mentioned below, will be opening in 461 theaters tomorrow, which should be enough for it to make a play for the top 10, while Downton Abbey is adding even more theaters and shouldn’t be too affected by the presence of the new animated movie.

As far as limited releases, Netflix is giving Stephen Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, starring Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas into select cities before it goes to the streaming service in October. Renée Zellwegger stars in Judy (Roadside Attractions/LD Entertainment), playing the late, great Judy Garland, a role that might get her another Oscar nomination. Also, Well GO USA is releasing First Love, Japanese genre auteur Takashi Miike’s new crime-thriller, which might actually be his best movie since 1999’s Audition!

Next week, it’s October and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is going to come crashing into theaters trying to surpass last year’s record set by the (clearly lesser super-villain) Venom.

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