It won’t be a joyous affair for ‘The Happytime Murders’ this weekend, as Jon Chu’s rom-com ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, based on the bestselling 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, looks to kill any chance of being overthrown. A sub-$20m gross will take pole position for the first time since February, when ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s $10.9m was enough to hold off competition from ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ and ‘Winchester’.
It draws similarities to last year’s drab August finish; just 12 months ago, ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ needed just $10.3m to top the worst Box Office weekend in 15 years – this time around, we’re a little luckier, as ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ aims to flash the cash with a total close to $17m, a few days after Warner Bros. announced a sequel is in works.
Melissa McCarthy’s second comedy of the year in ‘The Happytime Murders’ on the other hand, is a sad sight. The R-rated Sesame Street ‘adaptation’ pales in critical comparison to similar movies, as its 29% on the Tomatometer can’t hold a candle to ‘Team America: World Police’s 77%, or ‘Sausage Party’s 82%, let alone ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s 97% (or even ‘Space Jam’s 38%).
It doesn’t help that its lead is unpredictable when opening at the Box Office: for every ‘The Heat’ ($39.1m off $43m), Melissa McCarthy’s had a ‘Life of the Party’ ($17.9m off $30m) meaning this $40m comedy is anything but a guaranteed success.
It’s directed by ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘Muppet Treasure Island’ director Brian Henson (son of Muppets creators Jim & Jane Henson), and stars McCarthy alongside Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks, and Joel McHale. Set in a world where puppets and humans co-exist, Detective Connie Edwards (McCarthy) aims to find a serial killer murdering cast members of the 1980s show ‘The Happytime Gang’.
Recent R-rated comedies (from ‘Game Night’ to ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ comes to mind) have all opened in the low-to-mid-teens region, and it’s likely that ‘The Happytime Murders’ uniqueness in its puppetry won’t give it a helping hand (nor will its 3,224 cinema count), with a $14.5m gross on the cards. This will be followed by Jason Statham-led ‘The Meg’, which should (barring a freak collapse) make it over the $100m domestic mark this weekend by earning $10.8m.
One film that won’t even get close to that number is ‘Mile 22’, looking to muster some dignity in its second weekend after its poor $13.7m showing 7 days ago. A $6.9m gross will be enough to put it ahead of ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ ($6.5m), ‘Disney’s Christopher Robin’ ($5.8m), and fellow second-weekender ‘Alpha’ ($5.3m). ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is already Focus Features’ biggest film of the year both domestically and worldwide, and looks to build on its $30m global gross with a weekend earning of around $5m, beating ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’s $2.4m.
Finally, this weekend is rounded off by the second new wide release of the weekend, ‘A.X.L’ In a market inundated with franchises and remakes, it’s lovely to see an original family-adventure film about a dog made from top-grade military tech. The film stars Thomas Jane and Alex Neustaedter, and will only open in approximately 1,600 cinemas. Global Road, whose torrid time this year in the Box Office (think ‘Show Dogs’, ‘Midnight Sun’, and ‘Hotel Artemis’) has culminated in being partly taken over by its creditors, are looking to complete its flop-quadrant with an opening around $2m.
It’s looking like being a close weekend between the top 2, so can ‘The Happytime Murders’ spring an upset, or will ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ hold onto first place? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram and Twitter – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.