Box-Office Preview: Big-Budget 'The Meg' Heads for Tepid $20M-Plus U.S. Debut

The Meg Still 5 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Hollywood's latest summer shark pic — costing at least $150 million to produce — hopes to score bigger numbers overseas; other high-profile new offerings include Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman.'

Can director Jon Turteltaub's big-budget shark pic The Meg, starring perennial action star Jason Statham, shake off the August blues and beat tepid prerelease tracking?

That's the big question as Warner Bros.' shark movie swims into theaters in North America and around the globe this weekend, including China. The Meg, which has been years in the making, cost at least $150 million to produce, yet is only tracking to open in the $20 million-$22 million range domestically. (The studio says the net budget was $130 million.)

The Meg is hoping for a far bigger return offshore. China's Gravity put up a significant portion of the budget, and is handling distribution duties in China, where the movie opens Friday. Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao and Cliff Curtis co-star in the film, which follows a group of scientists trying to stop a mammoth shark from wreaking destruction.

In summer 1975, director Steven Spielberg made history with the classic shark film Jaws. More recently, Sony's The Shallows, starring Blake Lively, revived the genre upon grossing $119 million globally against a modest $25 million budget. That was followed by 47 Meters Down last summer, which garnered $44.3 million against a $5.5 million budget.

The Meg is a far bigger proposition, both on- and offscreen. The movie should bite its way to the top of the food chain unless Mission: Impossible — Fallout enjoys another stellar hold in its third weekend.

Several other movies are set to open nationwide opposite The Meg, including Spike Lee's high-profile Cannes Film Festival entry BlacKkKlansman, which tells the true story of two Colorado cops, one black (John David Washington) and one Jewish (Adam Driver), who infiltrated their local KKK chapter in the early 1970s.

From Focus Features, BlacKkKlansman is tracking to debut in the $10 million range, a solid start for a specialty film launching in summer versus during the fall awards season.

Sony's Screen Gems enters the August fray with the low-budget Slender Man, a supernatural horror film that is tracking to bow in the $8 million-$12 million range. The pic follows a group of friends fascinated by the internet lore of the boogeyman known as the Slender Man. When they try to prove he doesn't exist, one of them mysteriously disappears.

The weekend's fourth new nationwide offering is the indie film Dog Days, from LD Entertainment. The family comedy, about the intersection of humans and canines, is tracking to open in the mid- to high-single digit millions. The ensemble cast includes Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Lauren Lapkus, Thomas Lennon, Adam Pally, Ryan Hansen and Rob Corddry.