Many expect 2017 to be a big year for comic book superhero movies. Although 20th Century Fox has somewhat scaled back, only releasing one X-Men installment – Hugh Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine in Logan – Marvel Studios is upping the number of Marvel Cinematic Universe films to three with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok all hitting theaters. Plus, Warner Bros’ DC Extended Universe will continue on with Wonder Woman and Justice Leauge. However, the first big screen comic book superhero adaptation of 2017 to be released is actually Warner Bros’ The LEGO Batman Movie.
A spinoff from Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s widely popular and massively successful 2014 film The LEGO Movie, LEGO Batman sees the return of Will Arnett as the voice of the Caped Crusader – this time in his own solo film. The LEGO Batman Movie is the second in Warner Bros’ burgeoning LEGO franchise, with a LEGO Movie sequel, Ninjago, and Billion Brick Race all expected in the coming years. Now, The LEGO Batman Movie will seemingly harness the popularity of both superheroes and The LEGO Movie to dominate the box office in its opening weekend.
Deadline is projecting The LEGO Batman Movie will earn $50 million in its opening during the pre-Valentine’s Day weekend of February 10-12. The animated superhero adventure is going up against the second installment of Universal’s Fifty Shades of Grey series, titled Fifty Shades Darker, which features the return of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Fifty Shades Darker is projected to rake in between $30-$42 million, while Lionsgate’s own sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 is expected to earn $20 million.
Of course, The LEGO Batman Movie is helped by its PG-13 rating, opening the film up to a wider audience than Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2 – both of which have received R ratings. Plus, even the $50 million projection may seem on the conservative side since The LEGO Movie debuted to $69 million in its opening weekend. However, the opening weekend earnings of Fifty Shades of Grey eclipsed both The LEGO Movie and John Wick with $81 million (John Wick opened to $14 million).
That said, while Fifty Shades of Grey was undoubtedly capitalizing on the popularity of the book series on which the film is based, the movie earned negative critical reviews and was plagued by rumors about difficulty among the creative team. So, it’s certainly possible – and, in fact, seems to be the case – that the film franchise has cooled off in the two years since its last installment, whereas buzz surrounding both The LEGO Batman Movie and John Wick: Chapter 2 has seemingly increased.
Still, early reviews for all three films have yet to be released, which should give moviegoers a better idea of what to expect from each. It remains to be seen whether or not The LEGO Batman Movie can capitalize on the popularity of The LEGO Movie, Fifty Shades Darker can offer a more critically well received film, and John Wick: Chapter 2 can provide another unique action experience. But, moviegoers will get the chance to see for themselves in less than two weeks.