The second week in November features two medium-sized new entrants who will be playing for second place at the theaters. The first new release is Murder on the Orient Express, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 novel, starring Kenneth Branagh as detective Hercule Poirot (a potential franchise lead character). The second release is Daddy’s Home 2, a sequel to the 2015 Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg team-up, that was a big hit for Paramount and is the highest grossing live-action movie of Farrell’s career.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series where each week we look at the new movies being released and the predictions made by FLIQ. Questions and suggestions welcome at @FliqAI.
With Thor: Ragnarok released last week and Justice League on deck for next week, this week represents a bit of a lull. With that in mind it’s all but a certainty that neither of these movies will ever hit #1 at the box office, but with much more modest budgets than the heavy hitters surrounding them, the revenue goals are more modest as well. Both films, rated PG13, may well be in a good position to fill the demand with families not interest in comic book heroes or Halloween leftovers. Murder on the Orient Express will be trying to establish a beachhead for an Agatha Christie/Poirot franchise. Daddy’s Home 2 will be trying to re-create the success of the original (no small feat considering that sequels generally do worse and cost more), but Paramount kept the budget steady at $69M so at least the cost side of the success equation is under control.
FLIQ models are not big fans of Daddy’s Home 2. An opening week in the high teens following the original having a first week total of $64M would be a precipitous drop, even in the context of other recent under-performing comedy sequels (see A Bad Mom’s Christmas from last week). The big things working against the sequel are what we’re seeing as a drop in audience interest compared to the original at the same time, middling early reviews and timing. The second week in November doesn’t have the same family-hit potential that Christmas week does (which is when the original was released). Factor in the recent history of similar titles and I can see how FLIQ arrived as such a low number. There’s also no shortage of articles like this being published this week: Will Mel Gibson Tank Daddy’s Home 2? and while FLIQ is not aware of the socially problematic nature of Mel Gibson, it is indirectly reflected in the audience and early critics factors the models consider.
Murder on the Orient Express would likely consider the $26M opening week FLIQ is projecting a success. Part of the driving factor here is that we are picking up a good amount of audience interest, almost 4x that of Daddy’s Home and the early critical reviews are leaning positive. The real big unknown is how much of the audience interest we’re seeing translates to motivation sufficient enough to go to the theaters and buy a ticket. It’s an iconic story in literature, and a star studded ensemble cast (headed by Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz joining Branagh), but do these things drive people to the theaters? Not consistently.
Every week we will compare the FLIQ forecast to others made by BoxOfficeMojo and Pro.BoxOffice. We will also be making a weekly prediction setting up a fun Men vs Machine experiment. As we go forward, it will be interesting to reflect on and understand which types of predictions are better, where and how.
Checking in with the other forecasts this week, we see just how much FLIQ is down on Daddy’s Home 2. The Murder on the Orient Express prediction, on the other hand, is generally in line with the other two. I think FLIQ is right about Daddy’s Home 2, if a little too severe, but I think it’s too optimistic about Murder on the Orient.
Keep in mind FLIQ and I are predicting the whole first week, while the other two sites are predicting the opening weekend so our predictions should be discounted by about 20% for an apples-to-apples comparison.
WeCheck out the detailed forecasts from the two sites above. Some great notes this week:
In terms of comparisons, Daddy’s Home 2 is pacing ahead of The Internship ($17.3m opening) and looks to be a good comparison to Paul Blart 2, which opened with $23.7 million back in 2015 compared to the $31.8 million opening for the original, which grossed over $145 million. We’re anticipating a comparable performance with an opening around $23.5 million.
Murder on the Orient Express hails from director and star Kenneth Branagh, whose career credentials hardly need to be explained. He and the varied ensemble cast of this remake are expected to appeal in a significant way among adult moviegoers, making this a strong bit of counter-programming in a market where Marvel’s latest blockbuster is doing very well among families. Social media activity has been very positive thus far with Facebook growth topping that of Arrival and Gone Girl and Twitter activity on par with The Girl on the Train.
As always, questions and thoughts are welcome. We’ll see you back here next week when we’ll be forecasting Justice League as the holiday season rolls on.
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