Warner Bros.' "Doctor Sleep," a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's seminal horror film "The Shining," is hoping to scare some life into the box office.
Outside of Warner Bros.' "Joker," fall offerings such as Paramount and Skydance's "Terminator: Dark Fate" and Disney's "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" haven't been as warmly embraced by moviegoers. As a result, domestic box office receipts have declined over 5% compared to last year, according to Comscore.
"Doctor Sleep" is eyeing the strong start among newcomers, but this weekend's new nationwide offerings -- including Universal's romantic comedy "Last Christmas," Paramount's family film "Playing With Fire," and Lionsgate's historical drama "Midway" -- will attempt to cater to a broad range of audiences.
"Doctor Sleep" should easily win the weekend with ticket sales expected to reach $25 million to $30 million when it launches in 3,800 North American theaters. Mike Flanagan (Netflix's "The Haunting of Hill House") wrote and directed "Doctor Sleep," based on Stephen King's terrifying novel. Set decades after the events in "The Shining," the supernatural thriller sees Ewan McGregor take on the role of Danny Torrance, a man with psychic abilities who struggles with childhood trauma. Danny Lloyd portrayed a young Danny Torrance, the son of Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance in "The Shining." The follow-up has enjoyed mostly positive reviews and holds 75% on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Variety's chief film critic Owen Gleiberman said although he was skeptical of the need for this particular adaptation, "'Doctor Sleep' presents one that's fresh and unsettling enough to justify its existence."
Warner Bros. is still enjoying the success of "Joker," the grim comic-book origin story that should cross $1 billion at the global box office next week. But the studio's recent movies like "The Goldfinch" and "Motherless Brooklyn" have gone largely ignored by ticket buyers and became financial misses. "Doctor Sleep," with a modest production budget around $45 million, looks to surf the recent wave of renewed interest in King material and secure a hit for the Warner Bros.
While "Doctor Sleep" could ride the coattails of Halloween, "Last Christmas" is getting ahead of the holiday spirit. The feel-good film, starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding and Emma Thompson, is projected to earn $12 million to $15 million from 3,300 venues. Those figures would be a solid debut given the film's $30 million production budget. Paul Feig, the filmmaker behind "Bridesmaids" and "A Simple Favor," directed "Last Christmas" from a script by Thompson. Inspired by George Michael's Yuletide classic tune, "Last Christmas" follows Kate (Clarke), a down-on-her-luck woman whose fate starts to change when she meets Tom (Golding) while working as a department store elf during the holidays.
"Midway" is targeting a similar launch to "Last Christmas" and should collect around $13 million when it hits 3,100 locations. However, "Midway," hoping to benefit from Veterans Day weekend, represents a much pricier gamble. Directed by Roland Emmerich, "Midway" carries a massive $100 million price tag, making it one of the most expensive independent films ever made. Set during World War II, the historical epic follows the story of U.S. Navy sailors who persevered through the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent Battle of Midway. The cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans and Nick Jonas.
This weekend's final new release, "Playing With Fire," looks to make $7 million to $10 million from 3,000 theaters. The film, catering to families, cost $30 million to make. John Cena stars 'Playing With Fire," a PG movie about a group of elite firefighters who prepare for their most challenging job yet: babysitting. Paramount is having a particularly rough fall at multiplexes with the twin box office failures of "Gemini Man" and "Terminator: Dark Fate," both co-financed by Skydance, which will mitigate damages, but should cost the studio well over $100 million in losses.
Among specialty offerings, Amazon Studios is debuting "Honey Boy," a drama loosely based on Shia LaBeouf's childhood. The movie will start in four locations -- Arclight Hollywood and the Landmark in Los Angeles and AMC Lincoln Square and Angelika Film Center in New York -- before slowly expanding its theatrical footprint. LaBeouf, who wrote the film, portrays his father on screen, while Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe play older and younger versions of LaBeouf. Alma Har'el directed "Honey Boy," which has received rave reviews since its Sundance Film Festival premiere.