Box office preview: ‘Black Panther 2’ will enjoy its final weekend at #1

It’s been almost two months since we’ve had a weekend as bad as the one we’re about to have, but at least “Black Panther 2″ should keep its run going by enjoying its fifth and final weekend at #1. Next week will offer a light at the end of the horizon with James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” opening, in hopes of getting people back into theaters. Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.

This Friday, Focus Features is expanding the dramatic “Spoiler Alert,” starring Jim Parsons and Ben Aldrich, into over 600 theaters, after platforming in six theaters in New York, L.A., and San Francisco, but that’s really the only new-ish wide release. Directed by Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and written by TV Line’s Michael Ausiello, the romantic drama only made $85,000 (or $14,000 per theater) this past weekend. Because of that, it might have difficult getting into the top five this weekend, even if it only needs about $1.5 million in order to do so.

The reviews have generally been mixed-to-positive with a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and 86% from a handful of viewers who watched this past weekend. I expect its moderate expansion to only deliver a little over $1 million.

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The other “new” wide release is even stranger, because it’s a PG-13 re-release of Mark Wahlberg’s drama from earlier in the year, redubbed “Father Stu: Reborn.” There isn’t a ton of information out there, including how many theaters it’s getting, but it only made $20.7 million in its theatrical after opening in mid-April. Apparently, it has done so well once it went to streamer Netflix in its original R-rating that someone at Sony thought it could do even better if it was more accessible to younger audiences. Sure enough, when you compare the 42% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics to the 95% rating from over 1,000 audience reviews, it’s pretty telling.

We’ll see how that goes, but right now (and without knowing that important theater count), it’s likely to end up under $1 million, still enough to get into the top ten, but not necessarily the top five.

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A few movies that have done the September festival rounds will finally be released this weekend, beginning with Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light,” which Searchlight is releasing into roughly 100 theaters this weekend. Starring Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones and newcomer Micheal Ward. It involves the workers at a British seaside film theater in the early ‘80s where Colman and Ward’s characters have a close friendship and more, but the latter is plagued by the racism of the times.

The other movie getting more of a platform release from A24 is Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound shut-in and who is getting big buzz for his performance. Fraser has been the presumptive frontrunner in the Oscars’ Best Actor category for many months now, so there should be some interest for that reason alone. With a great supporting cast that includes Hong Chau (“The Menu”), Sadie Sink (“Stranger Things”), Ty Simpkins and Samantha Morton, A24 plans on expanding this nationwide on December 21, right before the normally-busy Christmas holiday season.

Either way, check back on Sunday for the weekend recap in which “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will undoubtedly prevail. And then, this time next week… “Avatar: The Way of Water”!

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