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It’s reboot mania at the January box office.
Bad Boys for Life and Dolittle will face off over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, with the former expected to top the chart. Between them, they feature two of the world’s biggest movie stars: Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr.
From Sony, Bad Boys 3 is pacing to gross anywhere from $38 million to $45 million domestically over the four-day frame, if not more.
Universal’s Dolittle is tracking for a four-day gross of $22 million to $28 million, a disappointing start for a movie that cost a net $175 million to produce before marketing.
Reteaming Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the threequel Bad Boys for Life opens 17 years after the last installment in the action-comedy franchise hit the big screen. Drawing solid reviews, its current Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 76 percent.
Bad Boys 3 was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and co-stars Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton Paola Nunez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano.
The R-rated pic cost at least $90 million to produce before marketing.
The even-pricier Dolittle — which stars Downey as the vet who can talk to animals — debuts 19 years after Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle 2 played in cinemas (there were subsequently three direct-to-DVD movies in that series, although they didn’t star Murphy).
Both movies faced numerous delays on their way to the big screen.
Doolittle, directed and co-written by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Traffic), was supposed to open last May, but its release was delayed in order to rework parts of the story and complete reshoots.
Despite those 11th-hour efforts, Dolittle has been savaged by critics, but it still hopes to win over the lucrative family audience. The pic’s current Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 13 percent, one of the worst of Downey’s career.
Downey stars alongside Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen in live-action roles, while the voice cast includes Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard and John Cena.
The timing of Dolittle isn’t ideal for Universal following the box office bomb Cats (both films rely heavily on VFX effects).
At the same time, the studio is riding high on the early success of Sam Mendes and Amblin Entertainment’s awards frontrunner 1917. Last weekend, the World War I epic opened well ahead of expectations and could earn $25 million or more this weekend after picking up 10 top Oscar nominations on Monday, including for best picture.
Other movies vying for best picture could also see a boost this weekend, including Neon’s indie hit Parasite, which will be playing in more than 800 theaters as of Friday, its widest count to date; Sony’s Little Women, which is heading into its fourth weekend; and Fox Searchlight’s Jojo Rabbit. Joker is also upping its theater count substantially, although the film is already on home entertainment; ditto for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
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