Last weekend, the hit animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3 ended the first month of 2016 on a high note at the box office, taking in $48 million in its opening weekend. In the first frame of February, this adventure will face three new movies, Universal's Hail, Caesar!, Sony's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Lionsgate's The Choice. If the projections at BoxOffice.com are correct, none of these will likely beat Kung Fu Panda 3, which should win this weekend with an estimated $22.6 million.
The animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3 currently has a solid 80% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it opened in 3,955 theaters, which will still make it the widest release in theaters this weekend, by a long-shot. Kung Fu Panda 3 marks the return of one of the most successful animated franchises in the world, with its biggest comedy adventure yet. When Po's (Jack Black) long-lost panda father (Bryan Cranston) suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai (Mads Mikkelsen) begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas! The voice cast is rounded out by Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, James Hong and Kate Hudson.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is expected to have the highest rollout among the new releases with an estimated 2,800 theaters, followed by The Choice with 2,600 theaters and Hail, Caesar! in 2,200 theaters. Despite opening in the least amount of theaters, Hail, Caesar! is expected to take second place with $14.5 million, followed by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with $11.5 million with The Choice taking $8.5 million and holdover Fifty Shades of Black rounding out the top 5 with $6.2 million. At this time, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies currently has a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but not enough reviews are out yet to determine a TomatoMeter score for The Choice and Hail, Caesar! We'll have to wait and see how the critics respond to these movies as we get closer to the Friday release date.
Four-time Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood's Golden Age. The story follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix. The ensemble cast includes Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand.
In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in Jane Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield. The supporting cast includes Bella Heathcote, Jack Huston, Douglas Booth, Emma Greenwell, Matt Smith, Lena Headey and Charles Dance.
The Choice tells the story of Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker) and Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), who meet first as neighbors in a small coastal town and end up pursuing a relationship that neither could have foreseen. Spanning a decade and tracing the evolution of a love affair that is ultimately tested by life's most defining events, this story features a memorable ensemble of friends and family in Nicholas Sparks' beloved North Carolina setting, culminating in the question that every couple must ask themselves: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive? The supporting cast includes Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Welling and Tom Wilkinson.
Rounding out the top 10 will be The Finest Hours ($6 million), The Revenant ($5.8 million), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($3.9 million), Ride Along 2 ($3.7 million) and Dirty Grandpa ($3.1 million). Star Wars: The Force Awakens is closing in on $900 million domestic and $2 billion worldwide, milestones it will most likely surpass sometime this week, although this could be its last week in the top 10. The film dropped 809 theaters last weekend, bringing its theater count down to 2,556, but we'll have to see how many theaters it sheds this weekend. Also opening in limited release is Regression, starring Emma Watson and Ethan Hawke and the comedy Tumbledown starring Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall.
Looking ahead to next weekend, 20th Century Fox's highly-anticipated Deadpool will go up against a pair of comedy's, Paramount's Zoolander 2 and Warner Bros.' How to Be Single. Also opening in limited release is the horror anthology Southbound, Touched with Fire, Providence, Of Mind and Music and Fitor. Be sure to check back on Sunday for the box office estimates, and again next Tuesday for our predictions. Until then, take a look at the projected estimates for the weekend of February 5.
PREDICTED WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: