Box Office Preview – CURSE OF LA LLORONA & BREAKTHROUGH Provide Easter Weekend Entertainment
Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!
It’s Easter weekend, and you know what that means, right? Lots of chocolate and candy and New Year’s diets being thrown right out the window. It also means no school on Good Friday, as well as government workers and a few others getting a few extra days off. Because of this, most movies will do big business Friday but then drop-off by Easter Sunday.
Even so, Easter is rarely considered a strong box office weekend, even though there have been some hits like Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman, plus the last two Fast and Furious movies. Up until a few years ago, April had never been a great month to release a movie, and many times, it’s been where studios will dump movies before the summer slate.
Speaking of which, you can read about that upcoming Summer Box Office right here.
This week, we have three new wide releases, two of them opening on Wednesday, possibly to take advantage of schools being out on Good Friday, as well as a horror movie opening Friday.
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (New Line/WB)
Cast: Linda Cardelini, Patricia Velazquez, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen
Directed By: Michael Chaves (upcoming The Conjuring 3)
MPAA Rating: R
The last month has seen a ton of horror with Jordan Peele’s Us being a box office champ. Entering the mix in the last weekend before the summer is this new horror film from New Line and producer James Wan, who have had quite a bit of success with The Conjuring movies and spin-offs.
The Curse of La Llorona is a stand-alone horror film set apart from The Conjuring world, although director Michael Chaves has already been hired to helm the third chapter of that franchise.
As with many horror movies, this one is more about the creepy premise of a spirit kidnapping kids than the cast, but Freaks and Geeks star Linda Cardelini (who also appeared in last year’s Best Picture winner Green Book) is one of the better-known names.
The Curse of La Llorona premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, but unlike other horror films that have premiered there – John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, Jordan Peele’s Us and the Evil Dead remake, for three – it only received mixed reviews, which may be why other critics won’t be seeing this until Wednesday night.
One thing the movie has going for it is that there is definitely a large Latinx audience who loves horror, which is why The Nun did so well last September, grossing $117.5 million. The Paranormal Activity franchise even had a fully Spanish language installment called The Marked Ones, which did okay with around $18.3 million opening in early 2014.
The commercials and trailers have been characteristically creepy with New Line having its horror marketing down to a science. Even so, the movie’s late April release makes it seem like it’s being dumped before Avengers: Endgame grabs every single screen. Because of that, this might have a hard time making more than $20 million this weekend and an opening similar to The Marked Ones seems more likely than anywhere close to The Nun.
BREAKTHROUGH (20thCentury Fox)
Cast: Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace, Josh Lucas, Marcel Ruis, Dennis Haysbert, Mike Colter, Rebecca Staab, Sam Trammell
Directed By: Roxann Dawson (directorial debut)
MPAA Rating: PG
Normally, I’d be worried about going out on a limb with any prediction I might make for a faith-based movie. Unlike some of the releases by Pure Flix, Breakthrough– reportedly based on a true story — is being released by a major film studio in 20th Century Fox’s Fox 2000. The film follows what happens when a 14-year-old falls through the ice in a lake and seemingly drowns until his mother prays for him and he returns from the dead.
This premise for the movie is very much in the vein of TriStar’s 2016 movie Miracles from Heaven, which opened with $14.8 million and went on to gross $61.7 million – not bad for a movie that cost $13 million to make. Two years earlier, TriStar had an even bigger hit with Heaven is for Real, although in the time since those movies, many faith-based films have opened with mixed results. The last really big hit in the genre was last year’s I Can Only Imagine, which opened with $17.1 million and grossed $83.5 million total. It’s actually fairly common for faith-based films to have long legs, although opening this one over Easter might make it a first choice for the evangelical audience.
The movie stars Chrissy Metz, one of the breakout stars from NBC’s This is Us, and she’s been out doing most of the press for the movie. It also stars Luke Cage himself, Mike Colter, as well as Topher Grace and Josh Lucas. It’s hard to imagine any of them would be a box office draw, though Grace turned a lot of heads with his portrayal of KKK leader David Duke in Spike Lee’s Oscar-winning BlackKklansman last year.
Breakthrough opens on Wednesday, and normally that might take away from weekend business as those who want to see it rush out to see it early. With no school on Good Friday and a PG-rating, this should get a nice bump on Friday which should add to the religious holiday weekend. Figure on Breakthrough making about $3 to 5 million on Wed. and Thurs. but getting a nice weekend bump somewhere between $15 and 16 million to take a solid second place behind La Llorona.
PENGUINS (Walt Disney)
Cast: Steve the Penguin, voiced by Ed Helms
Directed By: Alastair Fothergill (Monkey Kingdom, Bears, African Cat), Jeff Wilson (Frozen Planet, Planet Earth)
MPAA Rating: G
Also opening Wednesday, Disneynature is back with its eighth movie in the nature documentary series that began in 2009 with Earth. These movies have run the gamut at the box office from Earth’s $32 million gross to 2017’s Panda movie Born in China, which ended up grossing just $13.8 million.
All of Disneynature’s movies have been released on or around Earth Day, but there’s never been much logic to which movies do better than others. For instance, 2012’s Chimpanzee opened twice as well as 2014’s Bears, but there definitely has been decreasing returns with each movie.
Undaunted, Disney’s latest, if you can’t figure it out from the title, is about penguins, and it’s offered a cute trailer. It’s coming out fourteen years after the hugely successful Oscar-winning March of the Penguins, which grossed $77.4 million after a wide release six weeks after opening in New York and L.A., proving that moviegoers do love penguins.
Penguins is a very rare G-rated movie, which means parents with young kids won’t have any worries about improper language or other such things, and that fits in with the family-friendly Disney ethos.
Kids love penguins as do many parents, so this should be a strong contender for the weekend. Opening on Wednesday, like Breakthrough, that shouldn’t take much business away from the weekend, since it should get a nice bump on Good Friday that will help it make $5 to 6 million, somewhere in the middle of the top 10.
Unlikely to make it into the top 10 is the Bollywood film Kalank from Fox International Productions (FIP), which will open in around 300 theaters Wednesday and might fall just short of entering the top 10 with around $2 million over the weekend. Similarly, the indie musical drama Stuck (Freestyle), about six strangers trapped on an NYC subway car — something New Yorkers know well (just without the music) — will be opening fairly wide, maybe even into 1,000 theaters, but that might not be enough to make more than a million with little marketing for it.
Also, Max Minghella’s is scheduled to expand “nationwide” but that might be anywhere between 500 and 1,500 theaters. Without knowing an exact number, it’s hard to gauge whether it can get into the top 10.
This Week’s Box Office Predictions:
- The Curse of La Llorona (New Line/WB) – $18.5 million N/A
- Breakthrough (20thCentury Fox) – $15.4 Million N/A ($3 to 4 million on Weds/Thurs.
- Shazam! (New Line / WB) – $13.7 million -44%
- Little (Universal) – $8.2 million -47%
- Hellboy (Lionsgate) – $5.4 million -55%
- Penguins (Disneynature) – $5.3 million ($1 to 2 million on Weds/Thurs)
- Captain Marvel (Marvel Studios/Disney) – $5.2 million -40%
- Dumbo (Disney) – $4.9 million -48%
- Pet Sematary (Paramount) – $4.7 million -52%
- Us (Universal) – $3.5 million -49%
Not a ton of high-profile limited releases, other than a few festival films. Opening in about 20 theaters is Codeblack Films’ Fast Color, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman who goes on the run after it’s discovered she has superpowers. (My review of Fast Color.) NEON picked up Nia Dacoasta’s drama Little Woods, starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James, out of the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and that will be released in select cities. Looking for something a little different, there’s also Penny Lane’s documentary Hail Satan?, released by Magnolia in New York Wednesday and L.A. Friday. That looks at the controversial Satanic Temple and its recent political endeavors.
Next week, it’s all about Avengers: Endgame, and if you want a sneak preview of my thoughts on its potential box office, you can check out my Summer Box Office Preview.
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.