Two new movies — “Snake Eyes” starring Henry Golding and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old” — will open nationwide this weekend, but neither are expected to take down reigning champ “Space Jam: A New Legacy” on domestic box office charts.
After its $31 million start, the sequel to 1996’s sports comedy “Space Jam,” the latest version led by LeBron James, Bugs Bunny and a smattering of Looney Tunes characters, is heading for a repeat victory in North America. The Warner Bros. film is expected to fall 45-50% compared to its debut, which would put ticket sales at $15 million to $18 million for the weekend. Unless “Snake Eyes” or “Old” has a better-than-expected turnout, that haul should be enough to reclaim the top spot. However, it will be a close race.
More from Variety
As for the competition, Paramount’s “Snake Eyes” and Universal’s “Old” are eyeing openings in the low- to mid-teens. All three films are targeting younger male audiences, which could cannibalize box office revenues.
If any film has a shot of stealing the box office crown, “Snake Eyes” appears to be the best bet. The “G.I. Joe” origin story is projecting to make around $15 million to $16 million from 3,516 screens in the U.S. and Canada. Some estimates suggest that figure has the potential to surpass $20 million, which would likely be enough to dethrone “Space Jam 2.”
Even the higher end of estimates would represent a massive decline from its franchise predecessors, 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (which opened to $54 million) and 2013’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (which opened to $40 million). Those films ended their box office runs with more than $300 million worldwide. However, “Snake Eyes” is arriving with a much slimmer production budget so it won’t need to reach the same box office heights to achieve profitability. It cost $88 million, compared to $175 million and $145 million price tags for the first two entries.
It’s not entirely surprising that “Snake Eyes” is tracking a softer launch than the first two installments in the “G.I. Joe” franchise, which came out years removed from COVID-19. Though the state of the movie theater industry has improved considerably in recent weeks, it hasn’t yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Further stifling efforts is the highly contagious Delta variant, which has driven a spike in infections and forced Los Angeles, the largest moviegoing market in the country, to reinstate its mask mandate.
Both “Snake Eyes” and “Old” will be available exclusively in theaters, unlike other summer would-be blockbusters such as “Black Widow” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy” that premiered simultaneously on subscription streaming services. “Snake Eyes” is expected to land on Paramount Plus 45 days after its theatrical debut, while “Old” will have a traditional home entertainment release. That’s a deviation from recent Universal titles, which have the flexibility to move to premium video-on-demand platforms after at least 17 days on the big screen.
In “Snake Eyes,” directed by Robert Schwentke, “Crazy Rich Asians” star Henry Golding plays the mysterious lone fighter who eventually becomes the famous G.I. Joe hero. (Ray Park originally played in the title role earlier in the series.) The PG-13 film picks up as he’s welcomed into and trained by an ancient Japanese ninja clan, but he finds his loyalties being tested when secrets from his past are revealed.
The psychologically twisted “Old,” playing in 3,300 North American theaters, is expected to bring in between $12 million and $15 million through Sunday. For Shyamalan, the filmmaker behind mind-bending thrillers like “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable,” that would rank as the director’s lowest opening weekend ever. Currently, that distinction belongs to 2006’s “Lady in the Water” with $18 million.
Aside from a handful of commercial misfires, such as “The Happening,” “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth,” Shyamalan’s films tend to start strong at the box office. His most recent movie, 2019’s “Glass,” collected $40 million in its initial weekend of release, as did 2016’s “Split” with James McAvoy. In the early aughts, his popular thrillers 2002’s “Signs,” 2002’s “Unbreakable” and 2004’s “The Village” each launched with at least $50 million. Luckily, Shyamalan’s films don’t need to set box office records to turn a profit. In an unusual move for such a well established director, Shyamalan self-finances his movies and keeps the budgets modest. In the case of “Old,” the film cost $18 million to produce.
Based on the 2011 graphic novel “Sandcastle” and starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps and Alex Wolff, the PG-13 “Old” centers on a family that takes a tropical vacation, only to find the secluded beach where they are relaxing is somehow causing them to rapidly age, reducing the rest of their lives to a single day.
In limited release, Roadside Attractions has the biographical drama “Joe Bell” starring Mark Wahlberg and Greenwich Entertainment is putting out “All the Streets Are Silent,” a documentary that chronicles Manhattan’s skateboarding and hip-hop scene in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Best of Variety