Box Office Preview: Jordan Peele’s Horror Film US Looks To Scare Up Tons of Business

Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!
After two weeks of Captain Marvel dominating the box office, this weekend should see a new box office champ, as it sees the release of Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning blockbuster Get Out. The horror film Us  is pretty much the only new movie in wide release, which is usually a good sign that other studios are afraid of being clobbered by it.

US (Universal)

Cast: Lupita N’Yongo, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Directed By: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
MPAA Rating: R
I’m not sure where you were when Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out was sneak-previewing at Sundance in 2017, but it immediately started getting the type of rave reviews that continued for over a year through Oscar night 2018, when Peele won an Oscar for his screenplay.
Now, it’s two years later and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse, fresh off the Oscar nods and wins for Spike Lee’s BlakKklansman have reteamed with Peele (who also produced Spike’s movie) for his second horror film. This one is about a family who goes out to a beach house and encounter evil versions of themselves, or at least that’s the high concept being sold in the trailers and commercials, but if it’s anything like Get Out, you can probably expect more than a few twists and maybe a message or two.
Peele made a name for himself with his hit Comedy Central show Key and Peele with Kegan-Michael Key between 2012 and 2015 before the duo jumped into movies with the action-comedy Keanu, which only made $20.6 million in theaters in April 2016.
Peele switched to horror with his directorial debut Get Out, which opened on February 24, 2017 with $33.4 million in 2,781 theaters. With overwhelmingly positive reviews – it’s STILL at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes with 347 reviews —  it stuck around for a long time, rarely dropping more than 40% in its first two months in theaters and grossing more than $175 million by the time it left theaters in June. It would return to theaters in 2018 when Get Out received four Oscar nominations, winning for Peele’s screenplay.
When you have a movie that popular and that big, people are going to be eyeing your next movie very closely, and like Get Out, Peele hasn’t put together a cast of big-name stars that can help sell the movie, although Lupita N’Yongo is an Oscar winner (for 12 Years a Slave) and part of the SAG Award-winning cast of Marvel’s 2018 blockbuster Black Panther. Elisabeth Moss is also pretty well known from Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the movie also stars Winston Duke, who played M’Baku in Black Panther, his very first movie. It also stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who just played Black Manta in the Aquaman movie, so it’s almost a Marvel/DC crossover.

Universal

Wisely, Universal have been marketing the hell out of Peele’s new movie, even having it premiere as the opening night premier of this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival where it racked up similarly strong reviews that will only generate even more excitement of people wanting to see the movie as soon as possible.
This time, Universal is opening Peele’s new movie in more than 3,600 theaters and the demand to see his movie will probably help push the opening of this one into the same $50 million range as some of Blumhouse’s Paranormal Activity movies. The Universal/Blumhouse teaming has already proven to be a strong one even with R-rated fare as seen by the success of the Halloween remake last year, which opened with $76.2 million.
Since Us has a similar amount of buzz and interest as Get Out and with no other new wide releases, it shouldn’t be too surprising if Us  does huge business out of the gate, then we’ll have to see if audiences like the movie as much as the critics do, or as much as Get Out to see where it ends up in comparison. It’s definitely weirder than Get Out.
Since Us is Rated R, it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the other movies in theaters, but it should have at least a couple good weekends.
Also on Friday, A24 will expand Sebastian Lilio’s Gloria Bell, starring Julianne Moore in the title role, into a couple hundred theaters. That’s definitely worth seeking out if you’re in one of the regions where it will be playing. Depending on how many theaters it gets will determine whether it can break into the top 10, but it has a good shot.
I also should add that there will be a 20th Anniversary re-release of the thriller Cruel Intentions, starring very young Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair and Ryan Phillippe, and while I’m not sure how many theaters it’s getting, it could in theory break into the top 10 as well.

This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. Us (Universal) – $51 million N/A
  2. Captain Marvel (Marvel Studios/Disney) – $35 million -48%
  3. Wonder Park (Paramount) – $10 million -38%
  4. Five Feet Apart (CBS Films / Lionsgate) – $7 million -47%
  5. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (DreamWorks) – $5.9 million -36%
  6. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Famly Funeral (Lionsgate) – $4 million -50%
  7. No Manches Frida 2(Pantelion/Lionsgate) – $2 million -49%
  8. Gloria Bell (A24) – $1.8 million +634% (down .7 million)*
  9. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (Warner Bros.) – $1.5 million -40%
  10. Captive State (Focus Features) – $1.4 million -52%

*UPDATE: Just a quick update that Gloria Bell is only being expanded to 654 theaters this weekend. I still think it will break into the top 10 but probably with less than I predicted earlier. Also, the 20th Anniversary of Cruel Intentions is opening in 708 theaters, which could also push it into the low-end of the top 10 although these rereleases rarely do enough business to crack the top 10.
As far as limited releases, Bleecker Street will release the real-life thriller Hotel Mumbai, starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer, based on the actual terrorist attacks that struck the Taj Hotel in 2008. It’s the directorial debut by Anthony Maras, and it’s going to be interesting to see if giving it a New York and L.A. release this weekend will help build word-of-mouth for its nationwide release next Friday. Also, Oscar-winning Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes (Son of Saul) returns with the historical drama Sunset, which will be released in New York and L.A. by Sony Pictures Classics, while S. Craig Zahler’s police thriller Dragged Across Concrete (Summit) teams Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as cops who plan an elaborate heist after they’re suspended from the force.
Next week, things aren’t going to settle down as March ends like an elephant with Tim Burton’s reimagining of Disney’s Dumbo.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. No. 1 over the weekend, beating Captain Marvel and everything else. Biggest debut for an original horror film ever. Made for $20M, it has already turned a profit.

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