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July 27, 2017

Year of the woman at the box office?

Charlize Theron headlines the latest action blockbuster

“Atomic Blonde”

Women are ruling the box office in 2017.

The highest grossing film of the year so far is “Beauty of the Beast” while “Wonder Woman” just became the biggest blockbuster of the summerJust last week, the comedy “Girls Trip vastly outperformed pricey sci-fi flick Valerian.”

Now, Charlize Theron is leading this week’s most high-profile release “Atomic Blonde,” an action picture from the director of “John Wick.” Ever since its impressive first trailer, the movie has affectionately been dubbed “Jane Wick” and is aiming to replicate the success of its spiritual predecessor.

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The 2014 sleeper hit starring Keanu Reeves made $43 million domestically and $88 million worldwide off a $14 million opening weekend in the autumn of 2014. Positive word of mouth eventually produced a sequel. The original’s helmer, David Leitch, is a real Hollywood rags-to-riches story. Starting out of as a stuntman, he climbed the ladder from there to stunt coordinator, then second-unit director, until he finally got the chance to take the reins as a director.

Leitch passed on “John Wick: Chapter 2” however, to make “Atomic Blonde,” and is currently shooting the highly-anticipated Deadpool sequelTheron also had her own beloved summer hit two years ago as Imperator Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” As a result, the modestly-budgeted ($30 million) film is expected to make between $17M and $20M this weekend. Sporting a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating – better than normal for the action genre – “Atomic Blonde” should finish ahead of that range.

Prediction: $23 Million

“The Emoji Movie”

Oh boy, what to make of this. The Emoji Movie” was widely derived as an IP cash grab the moment it was green-lit. To be fair, every now and then a movie can surprise you. For example, “The Lego Movie” was ridiculed when it was first announced,  but ended up being embraced by audiences and criticsYet, there’s a difference between Lego toys, which have persistently been popular for decades, and a cute accessory on your phone.

Furthermore, the first trailer was poorly received and aimed squarely at kids (hence the healthy supply of poop emoji jokes). It’s unclear if young people will be drawn to the movie or whether they’ll prefer to catch up on the latest "Spider-Man” or “Despicable Me” installment instead.

Finally, a viral marketing stunt invoking the popular Hulu adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale didn’t go over wellReviews are embargoed, never a good sign, although the pic is tracking at about $30 million. Nevertheless, I see an upset this weekend.

Prediction: $20 Million

Nick Field is the former Managing Editor of PoliticsPA and is a regular PennLive Opinion contributor. A Bucks County native, he graduated from American University in Washington, D.C.