Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.
For a recap of last week's box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's opening weekend and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our picks matched up.
Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of December 23 - 25, 2016.
NOTE: Many of the new releases this week open on Wednesday, December 21.
This weekend, Passengers debuts in 3,300 theaters, Assassin's Creed plays in 3,000 theaters, Sing opens in 4,000 locations, and Why Him? premieres in 2,800 theaters.
#1 - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The clear choice for the top spot is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (read our review), which scored the second-best December opening weekend of all-time last week with $155 million. Receiving a positive response from critics and fans has certainly helped its commercial prospects, even though it is set outside the main Skywalker family saga. Viewers have enjoyed traveling once again to the galaxy far, far away, and there's very little that can realistically challenge Rogue One at the box office. The film opened so high, that it would take a monumental drop-off in order for it to slide down the charts, and that is very unlikely to happen.
#2 - Sing
Our choice for second is Sing, the new film from rising animation powerhouse Illumination Entertainment. The studio has already scored one big hit this year with The Secret Life of Pets ($368.2 million), so it's clear that audiences enjoy their brand of filmmaking. Sing sports a fun premise (a group of animals competes in a singing competition) and it should be a fun time for families at the movies this holiday season. The early reviews have been mostly positive, with pundits complimenting its voice cast and cheerful tone. Animated films are usually a sure lock commercially, but even more so (typically) when the word-of-mouth is positive.
In terms of this week's new wide releases, Sing has a great advantage over the rest of the pack. As an animated family comedy, it is a very different film from Rogue One, whereas two other high-profile projects are PG-13 genre pictures vying for the same Star Wars audience. Parents who are concerned about Rogue One being a little extreme for their youngsters will feel comfortable taking them to Sing. Projections for the six day weekend (Wednesday - Monday for the holiday) are anywhere between $65 million and $75 million. That's a little off from Pets' $104.3 million, but Sing has a lot to deal with.
#3 - Passengers
Coming in third should be Passengers, the new sci-fi drama starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as two passengers aboard a spaceship who awaken from their hibernation 90 years before their journey ends. The on-paper pedigree of this project generated much buzz (director Morten Tyldum helmed the Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game), but from the sounds of it, Passengers doesn't live up to its immense potential. The early reviews have been widely negative, with critics unable to look past the story flaws. Pratt and Lawrence make for an entertaining pair, but their chemistry can't save the film. For Sony, this is not a good sign, especially since Rogue One hype is still strong. Passengers is expected to make $35 - $40 million for the six day frame.
#4 - Assassin's Creed
Our pick for fourth is Assassin's Creed, the adaptation of the popular video game series starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons. Though there was much hope that this film could be the one to break the infamous "video game movie curse," the early returns are that it's instead a continuation of the trend. Just like Passengers, Assassin's Creed has been widely panned by critics, which puts it at a disadvantage when it comes to standing up against Rogue One. Video game movies are usually tough sells at the box office, with Warcraft a non-starter in America this year. The current expectations are within the $30 - 35 million range for the holiday frame.
#5 - Why Him?
Rounding out the top five should be Why Him?, a new comedy starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco. The film hasn't done well with critics either, but with Office Christmas Party losing steam, this R-rated laugher will find some appeal within its target demographic. Why Him? isn't going to reach the broadest audience, yet it should be able to do fine business for itself. At most, it's projected to bring in $13 million for the 4-day holiday weekend (it opens Friday, December 23). It won't be able to stack up to the other movies playing, but fans of the stars will find something to enjoy.
Last Week's Recap
We predicted Rogue One would make $150 million in its opening weekend. That estimate was slightly off, as the film made $155 million.
Next Week: Rogue One, A Monster Calls, and more!