September 15, 2016

‘Blair Witch’ Tries To Live up To Original Films’ Success

Sequels or not, horror films have had an impressive year at the box office, and “Blair Witch” looks to continue the streak this weekend.

“Blair Witch” is a direct sequel to the 1999 modern classic “The Blair Witch Project,” which pulled in $248.6 million worldwide. That film was made for a meager $60,000. “Blair Witch,” like many of its horror flick counterparts, also carried a modest production budget. The film, made for $5 million, is expected to pull in $20.5 million in its debut, according to estimates from analysts at Box Office.

“‘The Blair Witch Project’ was one of the most successful independent movies of all time,” analysts at Box Office wrote. “Horror has had a bounce-back year in 2016, having the genre’s best year since 2010, but that also means that fans of the genre have had plenty to feast on.

“It’s doubtful that lightning can strike twice here. The original was a novelty, which is no longer the case, and the genre has been filled with very similar films in the 17 years that have passed. ‘Blair Witch’ might just be lost in the midst with fans looking to embrace fresher entries.”

It will be a tough for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s “Blair Witch” or any of the other films opening this weekend to soar above “Sully,” from Time Warner Inc.-owned Warner Bros. “Sully,” the Tom Hanks-led biopic directed by Clint Eastwood, is expected to top the box office and earn another $24 million, to push its gross to $73.1 million.

Also opening this weekend in a wide release is “Bridget Jones’s Baby.” The film is the third in a “Bridget Jones” franchise that has garnered $544.5 million worldwide. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” carried a $35 million production budget and is expected to reel in $14 million in its debut for Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, according to Box Office estimates. The film has enjoyed solid reviews so far, with an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Open Road will drop its political thriller “Snowden” into wide release as well. The Oliver Stone-directed film, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role, cost $40 million to make and is expected to earn just $6 million at the box office.

“With the presidential election right around the corner and with politics and surveillance on Americans’ minds, perhaps the film’s mid-September release date — usually a time of comparatively lower grosses — could actually play to the movie’s advantage,” Box Office analysts wrote.

Last but not least, Pure Flix’s documentary “Hillsong — Let Hope Rise,” which follows Australian Christian band Hillsong United, is set to debut in a modest wide release — just 815 theaters. Pure Flix, a fairly new distributor, has yet to release a film that’s gone on to gross more than $21 million at the box office, but the analysts at Box Office note religious films have enjoyed mounting success recently. With a $10 million budget attached to it, “Hillsong — Let Hope Rise” is expected to earn $2.5 million.

The top 10 films at the box office this weekend are expected to total $82.5 million, which would be a 14% drop from the $96.1 million generated the same weekend last year, when “The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials” topped the box office.

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