Although last weekend’s box office numbers didn’t reveal any surprises, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s film, The Revenant, came within a few million dollars of toppling Star Wars: The Force Awakens month-long reign at the top. The Force Awakens brought in a weekend gross of $42,353,785 (down 53.1% from the previous week) while The Revenant nipped at its heels with $39,826,840. Although last weekend was The Revenant’s third weekend in theatres, it marked the film’s first weekend in wide release — The Revenant opened on an additional 3,371 screens, resulting in a weekend gross that jumped up 8,793.3%. Daddy’s Home dropped down to third place with $15,015,465 (down 48.6% from the previous week). The fourth spot went to the horror film, The Forest, which eclipsed its $10 million budget last weekend with a solid $12,741,176 debut. Sisters, the R-rated comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hung onto the number five spot, bringing in $7,189,455 (down 43.7% from last weekend).
Here is a look at a few films that open on January 15th.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (R) 144 mins. — In 2016’s cinematic landscape, mid-budget movies are few and far between, so a modestly budgeted film come from none other than Michael Bay is quite the surprise. Bay is inarguably one of cinema’s greatest action filmmakers (the man has his own action genre known as “Bay-hem”), and although it appears out of character for him to break from making $150 million dollar pictures to tell real-life stories, he has done it once before. In 2013, Bay stepped away from the Transformers franchise to film the $26 million dollar picture, Pain & Gain, a small scale crime flick (essentially an indie movie by Michael Bay Standards). 13 Hours is based on the notorious real-life Benghazi event; back in 2012, a six-member team of military contractors was tasked with defending an American consulate that came under attack from militants. After American Sniper’s record-breaking box office run early last year, it’s no coincidence that Paramount opted to drop this one right in the middle of January as well. 13 Hours shouldn’t have any issue making back its budget, however, don’t expect this picture’s box office take to be in the same stratosphere as what American Sniper earned.
Norm of the North (PG) 86 mins. — Out of the film’s opening to a wide release this weekend, Norm of the North has the greatest flop potential. Aside from Lionsgate releasing it right in the heart of Dump Month, there are several other factors working against it; it’s helmed by first-time director Trevor Wall; sports a voice cast comprised of sub B-list talent such as Rob Schneider and Heather Graham and the movie features lacklustre art direction. One look at the trailer and it’s easy to see why Norm of the North will be lucky to crack a double digit box office gross over the holiday weekend.
Ride Along 2 (PG-13) 101 mins. — 2014’s Ride Along was a sleeper hit. Made on just a $25 million budget, the film went on to gross $134,938,200 domestically. It will be interesting to see whether the Ride Along franchise has staying power or if the first film simply captured lightning in a bottle. Although Universal almost doubled Ride Along 1’s budget, investing $40 million dollars into a fresh franchise that raked in over $100 million just 24 months ago is still considered hedging the studio’s bets. Back in 2014, the overwhelming critical consensus was that Ride Along was cinematic trash that was best avoided, and yet moviegoers didn’t seem to care; Ride Along set box office records for the month of January ($41.5 million equaled the highest domestic opening weekend gross in the month of January). Right now, critics are dumping on Ride Along 2, which proved not to be the original’s Kryptonite, so barring some terrible word of mouth, the movie is poised to have another strong box office run.
The Bottom Line — While nothing on this weekend’s release slate will tempt me into my local theatre, there are still a couple of storylines worth following. Will this be the weekend that an underdog topples The Force Awakens’ run atop the box office? Does Ride Along 2 pack enough punch to match Ride Along’s 2014 box office run? And finally, if Ride Along 2 flies in the face of critics and does another monster opening weekend, are critics simply not on the same pages as audiences or is the franchise catering to a severely underserved demographic? We shall find out in 3 days.