Box Office Preview: Super Bowl to Sack Moviegoing After a Dismal January

MISS BALA -Film Still 2- Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Miss Bala

As February gets underway, the only new movie daring to open opposite the New England Patriots-Los Angeles Rams showdown is Sony's action-thriller 'Miss Bala.'

Super Bowl LIII is likely to sack moviegoing this weekend, following a dismal January at the domestic box office.

The weekend of the big football game is traditionally slow at the mulitplex, and 2019 isn't expected to be an exception as February gets underway.

The sole new nationwide offering is Sony's Miss Bala, a remake of the Spanish-language film of the same name. The $15 million action-thriller, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starring Gina Rodriguez, is tracking to open in the $6 million-$10 million range.

Miss Bala centers on a young woman who seeks revenge on the drug cartel that kidnapped her friend. Ismael Cruz Cordova and Anthony Mackie co-star.

Following a record year at the North American box office, revenue slipped sharply in January to $815 million, the worst showing in eight years and down by as much as 15 percent over January 2018.

Several films disappointed, including The Kid Who Would Be King and Serenity, both of which bombed last weekend in their debuts.

The biggest grosser of the month was Aquaman, which first hit theaters in December before earning another $118 million in January.

M. Night Shyamalan's Glass ($75 million to date) is the top earner among January releases, followed by the Kevin Hart-Bryan Cranston dramedy The Upside ($64 million to date).

"January is never known as a barn burner and this year was particularly slow and, despite the holdover strength of 2018's Aquaman, there has never been a breakout newcomer of a grouping of holdovers substantial enough to breathe some much-needed energy into the month," says box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore.

"This is certainly not a great start to a year that would ultimately become one of the biggest on record," he adds.

Other box office analysts believe the government shutdown impacted moviegoing. And this week, theater owners in the Midwest saw business drop due to bitterly cold weather, aka the Polar Vortex (temperatures are expected to rise by this weekend).

In terms of the box office, traffic is expected to begin picking up in earnest over the Feb. 8-10 weekend with the debut of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Chapter and What Men Want.

Feb. 2, 8 a.m. Updated with final January revenue estimate.