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However, holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) is widely expected to rumble past Winchester on Saturday and top Super Bowl weekend — one of the quietest frames of the year in terms of moviegoing — with $10 million-$11 million.
Winchester could also be beat by Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Fox), which looks to earn $9.6 million in its second outing, a 64 percent drop.
Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, Winchester is inspired by the real-life tale of Sarah Winchester, the eccentric 19th-century heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. fortune. Winchester spent her life constructing an enormous mansion in San Jose, California, complete with secret passages and trap doors, in order to keep at bay what she thought were the angry spirits of the people killed by her family’s firearms.
In the film, Winchester (Mirren) is visited by a skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist (Jason Clarke) who discovers that her obsession may not be so insane after all.
CBS Films acquired rights to the movie for a modest $3.5 million.
Between Maze Runner, The Greatest Showman and The Post, Fox could have three films in the top five. Greatest Showman, boasting another great hold, looks to place No. 4 for the weekend with $7.8 million, followed by The Post with a projected $5.2 million.
Scott Cooper’s indie Western Hostiles, starring Christian Bale, hopes to beat The Post, but it will be close.
Elsewhere, several films nominated for top Oscars are hoping to score major points, led by Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight), which is upping its theater count from 1,854 locations to 2,341. The film is projected to pace No. 9 with $4.1 million.
Searchlight also has Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which is increasing its theater count from 1,457 locations to 1,726. It’s the first time that Fox Searchlight has had films playing in 4,000 or more theaters on any given weekend.
Both Shape of Water and Three Billboards are up for the best picture Oscar, the gold standard when it comes to enjoying a box-office bump. Other movies scoring top noms can also benefit this weekend, with I, Tonya hoping that’s the case as it moves into 1,400 cinemas. The dramedy, from Neon and 30West, stars Oscar-nominated Margot Robbie as disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding.
Three Billboards is projected to gross $2.9 million for the weekend; T, Tonya, $2.4 million.
Feb. 3, 8:20 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.
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