Filmmaker Jeff Fowler's Sonic the Hedgehog hopes to boom loudly over Presidents Day weekend with a four-day debut in the $45 million to $50 million range.
The adventure pic, based on Sega's video game about the world's speediest hedgehog, is easily expected to race ahead of a crowded pack of films and top the long four-day holiday frame.
From Paramount, the live-action and CGI hybrid sees the titular character (voiced by Ben Schwartz) team up with a small-town sheriff (James Marsden) to battle the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
Sonic, costing $81 million to produce, is rated PG and will benefit from a lack of family product in the marketplace. Last year, the pic's release was delayed after an outcry over the design of Sonic; Fowler and Paramount acknowledged the criticism and undertook a re-sign that delayed the film's release.
There's no shortage of new offerings on the marquee timed to the lucrative Presidents Day holiday — as well as Valentine's Day, which falls on Friday this year.
Universal and producer Will Packer's romantic drama The Photograph, starring Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield, is expected to gross $15 million, if not more. Written and directed by Stella Meghie, the story revolves around a woman who falls in love with a journalist assigned to write about her late mother, a photographer. Chelsea Peretti, Lil Rel Howery and Courtney B. Vance also star.
Going after thrill-seekers is Sony and Blumhouse's Fantasy Island, a horror reimagining of the classic television series of the same name. Sony is predicting a four-day debut in the $15 million range. Directed and written by Jeff Wadlow, Fantasy Island stars Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen and Michael Rooker.
Both Fantasy Island and The Photograph are rated PG-13. The former cost a reported $7 million to make before marketing, while The Photograph cost $15 million.
The holiday weekend's fourth new nationwide release is Searchlight's black comedy Downhill, which made its world premiere last month at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews.
Directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, Downhill stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell as a couple whose marriage is destabilized by a near-disaster (think avalanche) in an American spin on Ruben Ostlund's 2014 Swedish film Force Majeure.
Downhill is tracking to open in the $4 million range for the four days, putting it in a close race with Bong Joon Ho's Parasite, which is expanding into more than 2,000 theaters following its historic Academy Award win for best picture and best director, among other top accolades for the South Korean film.
Parasite, first opening in select U.S. theaters in early October, has been building slowly and has never played in more than 1,060 theaters to date. Globally, the South Korean film has earned north of $170 million for CJ Entertainment, including more than $36 million in the U.S., where indie distributor Neon is distributing the genre-bending thriller.
Among holdovers, all eyes will be on Birds of Prey to see how the DC superhero pic holds up in its second weekend after a tepid domestic debut of $33 million. Four-day projections show it earning anywhere from $18 million to $20 million.