Forecast: Holiday Holdovers to Ward Off 'Woman in Black' Sequel

by Ray Subers
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

December 31, 2014

With moviegoers still focused on holiday releases, studios typically avoid the first weekend of the new year. That will be case once again in 2015, as the only new nationwide release this weekend is horror sequel The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death.

Even if the movie over-performs—unlikely, given the long wait and lack of star power—it will still fall short of first place. That spot will once again belong to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which should add around $25 million.

Meanwhile, Into the Woods and Unbroken won't be far behind: the Christmas Day hits could each earn north of $20 million this weekend.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death
arrives nearly three years after the original The Woman in Black, which was itself a remake of a 1989 British TV movie. Starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first post-Harry Potter role, the movie opened to a very good $20.9 million over Super Bowl weekend. It ultimately closed with $54 million in the U.S. and over $73 million internationally.

The sequel picks up 40 years after the original, when a group of children are evacuated from London during World War II. They wind up at the titular character's haunted house, which is where the trouble begins.

Because of the jump in time—along with events from the first movie—Daniel Radcliffe isn't involved this time around. Instead, the male lead is Jeremy Irvine, who is best known for his role in 2011's War Horse. Not to knock Irvine too much, but there's a big gap in popularity there.

As a result, the cast isn't really front-and-center this time around. Instead, marketing is focused on tying this chapter in with its predecessor ("She Never Left"), and promoting the movie's chilling horror imagery. This approach has its drawbacks, though. Three years later, and without Radcliffe, it's unclear if the brand itself means very much. Also, while trailers and commercials set the mood nicely, they don't feature any really memorable scares.

Still, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is well-positioned as counterprogramming to all of the family-friendly movies that opened around the holiday season. This positioning has worked well in the past: in each of the last three years, a horror movie opened north of $18 million on the first weekend of January.

While The Woman in Black 2 will likely fall short of this level, it does seem like a safe bet that it opens to at least $10 million.

On Wednesday—the final day of 2014—A24 Films is releasing A Most Violent Year at four locations in New York and Los Angeles. The crime drama is the latest from writer/director J.C. Chandor, who previously helmed Margin Call and All Is Lost (which earned $5.4 million and $6.3 million, respectively).

The movie has fantastic reviews—around 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—and is generating some awards buzz around Jessica Chastain's performance (she received a Golden Globe nomination, and is expected to garner an Oscar nomination as well). While the movie will burn off some demand with its Wednesday debut, look for it to average at least $25,000 per-theater (possibly quite a bit more) over the traditional three-day weekend.

Weekend Forecast (Jan. 2-4)

1. The Hobbit - $24.5 million (-40%)
2. Into the Woods - $20.7 million (-33%)
3. Unbroken - $20.3 million (-34%)
4. Night at the Museum - $14 million (-31%)
5. The Woman in Black 2 - $12.8 million
6. Annie - $11.5 million (-30%)

Bar for Success

The first Woman in Black opened just under $21 million; the sequel ought to be reaching $15 million in its first frame.

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.

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