Forget “Jane the Virgin.” Meet Gina the action hero.
Gina Rodriguez makes her debut as a lead in a studio film with Sony Pictures’ drug cartel action thriller “Miss Bala,” which hits theaters Thursday evening. “Miss Bala,” based on the 2011 Mexican crime drama of the same name, is expected to gross a modest $6 million to $9 million during a slow Super Bowl weekend, according to people who have read pre-release audience surveys.
It remains to be seen whether “Miss Bala,” which cost $15 million to make, will have the firepower to knock off “Glass,” the latest hit from M. Night Shyamalan that has dominated the box office for the last two weekends.
The movie from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, a $20-million sequel to “Unbreakable” and “Split,” has grossed $73 million in the U.S. and Canada so far, including $19 million last weekend. “Glass” easily prevailed over last week’s two new releases, 20th Century Fox’s “The Kid Who Would Be King” and Aviron’s “Serenity,” which both flopped.
The new film will test whether audiences are ready for a stark career reinvention from Rodriguez, who is best known as Jane Villanueva, the titular character from CW’s telenovela-infused satire.
Although Rodriguez made her name in TV, she has recently expanded her resume with film roles, co-starring in the Alex Garland sci-fi horror film “Annihilation” and the oil spill drama “Deepwater Horizon.” In the PG-13-rated “Miss Bala,” Rodriguez’s character is thrust into the middle of a cross-border drug conflict, forced to do the bidding of both a Mexican crime ring and the Drug Enforcement Administration while trying to save her kidnapped friend.
“Miss Bala” is also notable for being a rare studio-released action film made by a female director, at a time when studios have been widely criticized for not putting women behind the camera. Catherine Hardwicke — known for dramas such as “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown,” as well as the first “Twilight” movie — directed “Miss Bala."
Sony timed the release so that audiences could turn out after Super Bowl weekend, which is a historically slow period for movies. The film could appeal to Latino moviegoers, who tend to visit theaters more frequently than other demographic groups. Reviews for “Miss Bala,” which was filmed in Mexico, had not been published as of Tuesday afternoon.
While “Miss Bala” and “Glass” duke it out, Oscar hopefuls will continue to try to solidify themselves in the public eye after nominations were announced Jan. 22 ahead of the Feb. 24 awards ceremony. Disney on Monday said Marvel’s “Black Panther,” up for best picture, will head back into 250 AMC Theatres locations for one week starting Friday, after collecting $700 million domestically last year. Tickets are free, coinciding with Black History Month.
Audiences may catch up with other best picture nominees still in theaters, including Annapurna Pictures’ Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” ($42 million) and 20th Century Fox’s hit Queen film “Bohemian Rhapsody” ($205 million). Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite” ($26 million) expanded its theatrical run to more than 1,500 theaters last weekend to take advantage of its nominations, while Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” ($206 million) was re-released nationwide.
The movie with the most to gain from its nomination is probably “Green Book,” which won the Golden Globe for best picture comedy or musical but had a slow start commercially. Universal Pictures is hoping the target demographic of older viewers will turn up for the film, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. It has slowly but surely grossed $49 million in the U.S. and Canada so far, and it is playing in more than 2,000 theaters.