This MLK weekend will not be as big as last year's MLK weekend when American Sniper blew up the box office in a major way, but it should still be strong in its own right what with 3 new nationwide releases with some strong potential and 2 promising holdovers. Star Wars 7 has enjoyed 4 weekends in the top spot, but it looks like that streak is about to come to an end. Still, no records are going to be threatened at the box office this weekend. Note that I will be predicting the traditional 3 day Friday through Sunday frame, not the 4 day Friday through Monday frame. So, here are my predictions for the top 5 at the box office for MLK weekend 2016. I welcome your thoughts and predictions as well.
1. Ride Along 2
Star Wars 7 spent 4 weekends in a row atop the box office, but Ride Along 2 should be the film to unseat it. This film finds James (Ice Cube) reluctantly taking his soon to be brother in law, Ben (Kevin Hart) to help him shut down a drug ring in Miami as Ben's wedding day approaches. The first film had a January opening weekend record on this same weekend of 2014 ($41.5 million), but it only had a year to enjoy that honor, because that record was more than doubled exactly a year later by American Sniper ($89.3 million). I have not looked at the predictions for it yet, but Ride Along had mixed reception from audiences, like similar comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The original opened to $31.8 million and the sequel opened to $23.8 million. That was roughly three quarters of what its predecessor opened to. At first glance, it seems that Ride Along would follow suit, which would put it in the low $30 millions. However, I do not think that will happen. Early reviews suggest it will not be as good as the original (what sequel is, really?), but the reviews could improve a bit starting tomorrow when more people see it and it is highly unlikely that it will be as bad as Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. The marketing has been fairly strong. Unlike Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, the Ride Along 2 trailers seemed to make most of us laugh, especially when Ben's pratfalls occur, the most memorable of which is standing up and getting knocked into the wall by the ceiling fan. It should open a little higher than its predecessor but not significantly so. I predict an opening weekend in the mid to high $40 millions.
2. The Revenant
Star Wars 7 took a steep tumble last weekend but still managed to take the top spot, but The Revenant was very close behind by less than $3 million. Given that the Oscar nominations are being announced today and there is a lot of awards buzz surrounding this film, it is likely to remain about where it was last weekend in the mid to high $30 millions.
3. Star Wars 7
After having been at the top spot for four weekends in a row and having broken numerous records, it is shaping up to start winding down. By this point, most people have seen it at least five times. It is likely to take 3rd place and be in the low to mid $20 millions for the weekend.
4. 13 Hours
This film is based on a true story of six Annex Security Team members trying to defend the US consolate in Benghazi, Libya from an attack being carried out by Islamic militants. War films tend to do well in January. Zero Dark Thirty from 2013, Lone Survivor from 2014, and American Sniper from 2015 opened to $24.4 million, $37.8 million, and $89.3 million, respectively. However, I placed this one lower for one reason: Michael Bay. Yes, he is directing it and early reviews are not positive. Most of the early complaints are that he did his signature explosions that he puts in his films but skated around the truth of what actually happened. It should not have a poor opening, but it will probably not be opening as high as any of the three aforementioned films. My official prediction is that it will open in the mid to high $10 millions.
5. Norm of the North
Norm of the North looks like it will be in 5th place. The early reviews are horrendous, but there are still some poorly reviewed animated films that have done decent business. The 4th Alvin and the Chipmunks is pretty much played out by this point which means adults with younger children in tow will have no alternative and will likely pay this film a visit. It has had a pretty solid marketing effort, but I expect it to end up opening in the low to mid $10 millions this weekend.
Here are my official weekend predictions for the top 5 for MLK weekend 2016. When I have percentages in the parentheses, it represents a drop from the previous weekend. If there are no parentheses, that means it is opening nationwide this weekend.
1. Ride Along 2: $46.6 million
2. The Revenant $36.4 million (-9%)
3. Star Wars 7: $21.7 million (-49%)
4. 13 Hours: $18.2 million
5. Norm of the North: $13.4 million