Get ready for the Christmas crush.
A trio of movies is opening nationwide Wednesday in advance of the long holiday weekend — space romance Passengers, animated tentpole Sing and video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed — followed by R-rated comedy Why Him? on Friday. And a slew of award contenders also will launch at the specialty box office Wednesday, including Patriots Day and Julieta.
Illumination Entertainment and Universal’s Sing — think talking animals meet American Idol — has the best shot of trumping holdover Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and claiming the No. 1 spot, but it will be tough. Sing is projected to take in at least $65 million to $75 million for the Wednesday-to-Monday stretch (with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, Monday is an official holiday, so tracking services are putting out six-day estimates).
As for Rogue One, the Lucasfilm title nabbed an estimated $17.7 million domestic and $15.8 million internationally on Monday for a total haul of $323.5 million so far in its run.
Traffic will slow dramatically on Saturday being Christmas Eve, and Sing could be hurt more than most films, since it is a family title. Conversely, it is tipped to do huge business beginning Christmas afternoon. Generally speaking, many holiday films can enjoy huge multiples between Dec. 25 and the end of New Year’s weekend, considered the most lucrative corridor of the year.
Passengers, the high-profile sci-fi adventure starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, is projected to post an opening of $45 million to $50 million for the six days, although Sony is being more conservative with a $35 million-plus estimate. It remains to be seen whether dismal reviews will hurt the adult-skewing movie, which cost at least $110 million to make after tax incentives and rebates, including a $20 million payday for Lawrence.
Assassin’s Creed is another wild card. The Fox film, starring Michael Fassbender, has fared even worse with critics than Passengers. The movie is predicted to earn $30 million to $35 million for the six days, but it could come in ahead of expectations if fans of the video game turn out in force. Assassin’s Creed, which cost a net $125 million to make, also stars Marion Cotillard.
Reuniting director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg, Boston marathon drama Patriots Day opens Wednesday in seven theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. CBS Films and Lionsgate co-financed the movie, which expands nationwide Jan. 13.
On Friday, Fox opens Why Him? nationwide. The comedy, directed by John Hamburg, stars James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck and Keegan-Michael Key. Why Him? is tracking to earn $10 million to $13 million for the four-day weekend.
Like Patriots Day, a slew of other awards contenders are opening in limited runs over the year-end holidays, including A Monster Calls (Focus Features), Denzel Washington’s Fences and Martin Scorsese’s Silence (both from Paramount), Julieta and Toni Erdmann (both from Sony Pictures Classics), Paterson (Bleecker Street), Ben Affleck’s Live by Night (Warner Bros.), Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures (Fox 2000/Chernin Entertainment) and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women (A24).
Also on Christmas Day, critical and box-office darling La La Land expands nationwide.