Box Of­fice Sa­vant

In­dus­try watch­ers are bullish about the year’s movie slate; Va­ri­ety tar­gets the likely win­ners and po­ten­tial losers

Variety - - Contents - By RE­BECCA RUBIN @re­bec­ca­aru­bin

Va­ri­ety looks at the likely hits and risky bets for 2019

it will be dif­fi­cult to top 2018’ s ban­ner year at the box of­fice. A num­ber of over­per­form­ing block­busters, com­bined with a healthy crop of sur­prise hits, pro­pelled the do­mes­tic mar­ket to record heights. It’s safe to say this year has its work cut out for it.

For­tu­nately, an in­trepid lion cub, a de­monic danc­ing clown and Earth’s Might­i­est He­roes are rid­ing to the res­cue. In­dus­try an­a­lysts and stu­dio heads are bullish that 2019’s slate of films is strong enough to match — or even sur­pass — last year’s bounty. There will be one big win­ner even if ticket sales fall short of a record. As Dis­ney pre­pares to merge with Fox, the Magic King­dom’s choke­hold on the box of­fice is only go­ing to in­ten­sify.

In­evitably, there will be bombs amid the block­busters. In ad­di­tion to pre­dict­ing which films will score over the next 12 months, we also take a look at the movies that face head­winds. Here’s a sur­vey of the com­ing crop of what fig­ure to be hits and po­ten­tial misses.

SURE THINGS The Lion King

Dis­ney

Just about ev­ery per­son on the planet is fa­mil­iar with the story of Simba’s com­ing of age. Com­bine that aware­ness with the prospect of hear­ing Bey­oncé sing “Cir­cle of Life,” and it’s a safe bet that Jon Favreau’s take on the iconic Dis­ney tale will be mas­sive. “Hakuna matata,” in­deed.

Avengers: Endgame

Dis­ney

“In­fin­ity War” dom­i­nated the box of­fice last sum­mer, but the se­quel could give its pre­de­ces­sor’s $2 bil­lion global haul a run for its money. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son) and Black Pan­ther (Chad­wick Bose­man) are among the span­dexed he­roes reteam­ing to de­feat Thanos in what will surely be an epic con­clu­sion.

It: Chap­ter 2 Warner Bros.

Andy Muschi­etti’s adap­ta­tion of “It” was such a run­away suc­cess, rak­ing in $700 mil­lion on a $35 mil­lion pro­duc­tion bud­get, that it’s hard to imag­ine the sec­ond chap­ter of Stephen King’s novel fail­ing to de­liver. Pen­ny­wise the Danc­ing Clown re­turns to the­aters the same week­end the orig­i­nal did two years ago. All signs point to the shape-shifter strik­ing twice.

Ju­manji 3

Sony

If the film­mak­ers are able to re­cap­ture the magic that cat­a­pulted 2017’s “Ju­manji” to nearly $1 bil­lion at the box of­fice, Kevin Hart and Dwayne John­son will have an­other gar­gan­tuan hit on their hands.

Glass

Uni­ver­sal

M. Night Shya­malan’s film com­bines su­per­heroes and hor­ror — two gen­res that couldn’t be hot­ter at the box of­fice. The thriller has Bruce Willis and Sa­muel L. Jack­son repris­ing their roles from 2000’s “Un­break­able” and James Mcavoy re­turn­ing as Kevin Wen­dell Crumb from “Split.” This is a match-up that will leave fan­boys and fan­girls sali­vat­ing.

QUES­TION MARKS Poké­mon: De­tec­tive Pikachu Warner Bros.

Kids love their Poké­mon cards. But the his­tory of video-game-to-big-screen adap­ta­tions is filled with more flops than hits. Don’t be­lieve us? Just ask the mak­ers of “Su­per Mario Bros.”

Men in Black In­ter­na­tional Sony

Tessa Thomp­son and Chris Hemsworth proved they have chem­istry in “Thor: Rag­narok.” Can their on-screen charm make us for­get about orig­i­nal stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones?

Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood Sony

“Taste­ful” and “Quentin Tarantino” are words that rarely ap­pear in the same sen­tence. How­ever, it will fall to the “Pulp Fic­tion” direc­tor to some­how dra­ma­tize the bru­tal Man­son mur­ders with­out seem­ing to be ex­ploita­tive. Tarantino is no stranger to con­tro­versy, but will the in­evitable head­lines trans­late into ticket sales?

Artemis Fowl

Dis­ney

Young adult books aren’t the sure-fire box of­fice win­ners they once were. “Di­ver­gent” and “Mor­tal En­gines” found that out the hard way. Now this big-bud­get adap­ta­tion of Eoin Colfer’s 2001 novel will try to shake off the curse and re­vive a genre that went out of fa­vor with the con­clu­sion of “The Hunger Games” and “Twi­light.”

Joker Warner Bros.

Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix team up to see if movie­go­ers want to watch the Clown Prince of Crime sans Bat­man. If the gam­bit works, they’ll be laugh­ing all the way to the bank. If it falls flat, “Joker” will be an­other “Jus­tice League”-style dud from strug­gling DC.

A Cut Above “Glass,” star­ring Sa­muel L. Jack­son, James Mcavoy and Bruce Willis, looks to be a top draw at the mul­ti­plex.

Change Agents Tessa Thomp­son and Chris Hemsworth take over for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Co­lum­bia Pic­tures’ “Men in Black In­ter­na­tional.”

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