Weekend Box Office Forecast: 'The Accountant, 'Kevin Hart: What Now?' and 'Max Steel'
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Warner Bros's The Accountant is looking at an easy first place finish after bringing in an estimated $9 million on Friday (including $1.35 million on Thursday), heading toward an opening weekend around $24-25 million. While our weekend preview had doubts the film could climb quite so high based on critical reviews (which have now settled in just above 50% on RottenTomatoes), opening day audiences took to the film, awarding it an "A" CinemaScore. Additionally, while Mojo assumed the film would play to a younger audience than A Walk Among the Tombstones, of which 77% were over the age of 25, that assumption was also wrong as 86% of The Accountant's audience was over the age of 25 and 68% over the age of 35. The audience demographic skewed slightly male with 58% of the demo vs. 42% female.

As Mojo's estimates were low on The Accountant they were also a little high on Kevin Hart: What Now?, which brought in an estimated $4.76 million. While lower than Mojo's lofty forecast, this is still a strong start for the concert film which is looking at an opening around $12-13 million.

The third new wide release of the weekend is performing well below even Mojo's modest expectations as Open Road's Max Steel brought in an estimated $637,795 on Friday and is looking at a three-day opening that could struggle to hit $2 million.

Finally, the Harry Potter IMAX Marathon, which began on Thursday, October 13, in ~330 locations is looking to top $1.2 million in its first four days. We're expecting to have more accurate information by Monday afternoon and a four-day estimate some time tomorrow.

You can check out all the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete weekend wrap-up.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: The Accountant got off to a great start last night with $1.35 million in Thursday night previews in over 3,000 theaters, which began at 7 PM. Other R-rated Fall films in that range include The Equalizer, which brought in $1.5 million on Thursday night and opened with $34.1 million and Black Mass, which brought in $1.4 million and opened with $22.6 million. This is an even better Thursday night than films such as The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl opened with, which opened with $24.5 million and $37.5 million respectively, the latter of which also starred Ben Affleck. In fact, when you open up the range to include R-rated films from any time in the year very few opened below $20 million, which bodes very well for the film's opening weekend prospects.

Kevin Hart: What Now? delivered $739,000 from Thursday night preshows from 2,054 theaters. Hart's last concert film, Let Me Explain, was a Wednesday opener in the summer of 2013 and brought in $1.1 million on Tuesday night, which doesn't make for a great comparison. Overall, comparisons for this title remain limited, though you could look to Hart's The Wedding Ringer, which brought in $800,000 on Thursday night and opened with $20.6 million in January of last year.

We'll be back tomorrow morning with a look at Friday estimates. You can read our weekend preview directly below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: To date, October 2016 is playing ~25% behind 2015 and about ~28% behind 2014, years that had hits such as The Martian and Gone Girl at the beginning of each month. Thirteen days into October 2016 and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is leading the charge with $46+ million of its $56 million cume coming from the first twelve days of the month. Looking at this weekend's crop of new releases and holdovers it appears the downward trend will continue as the top twelve, which will be lead by two of this weekend's new releases, Ben Affleck's The Accountant and Kevin Hart's concert feature Kevin Hart: What Now?, will combine for under $100 million for the twelfth time this year, most likely settling in around $88 million.

Beginning with Warner Bros's The Accountant, the thriller stars Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick and is budgeted around $44 million. The film is debuting in 3,332 theaters this weekend with Thursday night preshows beginning at 7 PM and there's a wide-range of expectation for the film's opening, as it is thought to finish anywhere from $15-20 million. The wide range is understandable as it is tough to narrow that number down a bit and a wide variety of factors aren't exactly helpful in painting a clearer picture.

As of right now, the RottenTomatoes rating for The Accountant is a weak 46% with an average rating of 5.7/10. Added to that, the weekly report from online ticket retailer Fandango.com shows The Accountant second to Kevin Hart: What Now? in advanced ticket sales heading into the weekend. Muddying the waters further, The Accountant is, however, outselling Affleck's Argo at the same point in Fandango's sale cycle. Whether or not Argo is an apt comparison, however, is up for debate.

After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and earning rave reviews, Argo opened with $19.4 million and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. That said, The Accountant is also pacing ahead of Argo in IMDb page view data, but if you begin to take a look at other comparisons such as John Wick ($14.4m opening) and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ($15.4m opening), you find The Accountant pacing a bit behind. Wick, of course, had some aided awareness as a result of premiering in mid-September at the Austin Fantastic Fest and Jack Ryan was an attempt to reboot a franchise that already had four films to its credit, one of which, ironically enough, starred Ben Affleck. All of which does muck up the comparison a bit.

One comparison that's proving rather interesting is Liam Neeson's A Walk Among the Tombstones, which debuted with $12.7 million in September 2014. Looking back, BoxOfficeMojo predicted a $16 million opening for that film only to see it come up short. Comparing IMDb page view data between Tombstones and Accountant shows the two on a similar path, but one interesting stat that should give The Accountant a boost is the fact Tombstones played to an audience of which 77% were over the age of 25. It seems reasonable to assume The Accountant will have a better shot at targeting a younger demographic, but it certainly makes forecasting much tougher.

All told, if it had better reviews it would be easier to predict an opening closer to $18-20 million, if not more. With all the information available to us, however, an opening closer to $15-17 million seems a safe bet at this point, though if it does struggle to reach those numbers it could find itself in a fight for first with our next film.

Make no mistake about it, Kevin Hart's latest concert film is the comedian's biggest yet. In Kevin Hart: What Now? Hart, who recently dethroned Jerry Seinfeld atop Forbes' list of highest-paid comedians, takes center stage in front of a record-setting 50,000 fans in his hometown of Philadelphia. As already noted, the film is topping Fandango.com's advanced ticket sales for the weekend as well as outselling Hart's previous concert film, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, which opened with $10 million. Added to that, the film is outperforming Let Me Explain on IMDb by a healthy margin. Also contributing to the excitement are the cameo appearances from Halle Berry and Don Cheadle, which have dominated the film's promotion as the film begins with a lengthy spoof of James Bond movies before Hart takes the stage in Philadelphia.

Throughout 2016 Hart has continued to expand his audience reach after being seen in Ride Along 2 ($90.8m) and Central Intelligence ($127.4m) as well as providing the voice for Snowball in Universal's hit animated feature The Secret Life of Pets, which is on the verge of becoming one of the top 50 all-time worldwide releases. As for this weekend, look for What Now? to finish with a $14-15 million opening if not more.

Last weekend's #1, Universal's The Girl on the Train, should finish third, likely tumbling 50+% for a sophomore session around $11-12 million as a result of an opening just a bit below expectation, a "B-" CinemaScore, muted reviews to the tune of a 43% score on RottenTomatoes and an audience rating of 56% and IMDb rating of 6.7. These are all factors that lead to diminishing box office returns. In fact, films that opened from $23-26 million that scored "B-" CinemaScores dropped, on average 55% in their second weekends.

After a 45% dip in its second weekend, Fox's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is adding 130 theaters this weekend and should hold relatively steady if not show improvement this weekend. A drop around 37% doesn't seem at all unreasonable for a fourth place finish and around $9.5 million as its domestic cume approaches $70 million. Also in its junior session, Deepwater Horizon should round out the top five with a weekend right around $7 million as its cume climbs to $50 million and the film's reported $110 million budget looms.

Just like last weekend, one of this weekend's question marks will be the second weekend for Fox Searchlight's The Birth of a Nation. After an opening weekend on the low side of expectations the once-presumed, sure-thing Oscar contender now finds itself in an uphill battle. After bringing in $7 million last weekend this one could possibly drop as much as 55% or it could hold on around 29%. We're betting somewhere in the middle, right around the 45.3% drop Free State of Jones saw this summer after its $7.5 million opening if not a little better for a second weekend around $3.5-4 million.

The final new wide release of the weekend is Open Road's Max Steel, which has traveled a bit of a lengthy road to release. The adaptation of the Mattel action figure was originally slated to star Taylor Lautner back in 2009 before he jumped ship to the now-scrapped Stretch Armstrong feature. Ben Winchell ("A.N.T. Farm") ultimately stepped into the title role and production on the feature was completed back in May 2014 yet it wasn't until August of this year that the first trailer dropped and while IMDb page views show significant interest upon the trailer's release that interest quickly faded. All that said, finding comps isn't simple, though something like Ratchet & Clank earlier this year seems a safe enough comparison to make, suggesting an opening weekend in the $3-4 million range, though should it finish plus-minus $1 million on either side of that range we wouldn't be entirely surprised.

Also opening this weekend, STX will debut Jonas Cuaron's U.S.-Mexico border thriller Desierto starring Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in 73 theaters. The film, which is Mexico's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for this year's Academy Awards, has received mixed reviews so far, currently holding a 56% score on RottenTomatoes.

Additionally, Roadside is releasing Priceless, a gritty story about human trafficking starring Joel Smallbone of the Christian contemporary rock band "for KING & COUNTRY" and directed by his brother, Ben Smallbone. The film will debut in 303 theaters and could worm its way into the top 15 with $1+ million or so should the studio's marketing campaign to the faith-based audiences take hold.

Also, IFC is releasing Kelly Richard's ensemble drama Certain Women starring Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and Laura Dern in five theaters; GKIDS is bringing Miss Hokusai to two theaters; and The Orchard will premiere Christine starring Rebecca Hall and Michael C. Hall in one theater.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • The Accountant (3,332 theaters) - $16.0 M
  • Kevin Hart: What Now? (2,568 theaters) - $15.2 M
  • The Girl on the Train (3,241 theaters) - $11.9 M
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (3,835 theaters) - $9.5 M
  • Deepwater Horizon (3,403 theaters) - $7.1 M
  • The Magnificent Seven (3,210 theaters) - $5.3 M
  • Storks (3,066 theaters) - $4.8 M
  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (2,822 theaters) - $4.6 M
  • The Birth of a Nation (2,105 theaters) - $3.9 M
  • Max Steel (2,034 theaters) - $3.8 M

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