"Patriots Day," the new Mark Wahlberg movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, will battle space-race drama "Hidden Figures" for the top spot on the box-office charts this holiday weekend.
But both will face heavy competition from Oscar favorite "La La Land" as the modern-day musical tries to convert critical accolades into commercial success.
Produced by CBS Films and distributed by Lionsgate, "Patriots Day" is expected to gross a Boston-strong $18 million to $20 million at domestic theaters Friday through Monday during the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, according to people who have read pre-release audience surveys.
"Patriots Day," which follows the fatal bombing itself and the ensuing manhunt, is the latest collaboration between Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who also made the 2013 heartland military hit "Lone Survivor" and last year's oil-spill disaster movie, "Deepwater Horizon." The new movie has played well in limited release since its Dec. 21 debut, scoring $870,000 from seven theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. The film cost $40 million to make, counting a production rebate.
It should defeat a crop of newcomers including Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" and horror flick "The Bye Bye Man." However, it remains to be seen if it can beat a strong lineup of holdovers.
"La La Land," from Lionsgate, is expected to get a boost from its record-setting seven Golden Globe Awards wins Sunday night as it expands to more theaters, including 100 Imax screens. The feel-good, Los Angeles-set musical, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, has grossed $51.8 million so far in the U.S. and Canada.
Additionally, "Hidden Figures," from 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment, should continue to pull audiences into theaters with its uplifting true story about African American female mathematicians and engineers who helped NASA get the first Americans into space. It opened wide with $22.8 million last weekend, narrowly defeating "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
Lucasfilm-Disney's "Rogue One" will also remain a player, adding to its massive $477-million total. The "Star Wars" film will soon pass "Finding Dory's" $486-million domestic tally to become the highest grossing blockbuster of 2016.
Meanwhile, "Live By Night," written and directed by and starring Affleck, will expand nationwide Friday following its limited run. Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, the Warner Bros. Pictures Prohibition-era crime thriller could swipe about $10 million during the four-day weekend. "Live By Night," which cost an estimated $65 million to make, has been hampered by poor reviews.
"The Bye Bye Man," the latest from STX Entertainment, follows a group of college friends who must face an unspeakable evil. Targeting the Friday the 13th release date, the $7.4-million supernatural thriller is expected to open with roughly $10 million in ticket sales. "Sleepless," a Jamie Foxx crime thriller from Open Road Films, should also land close to $10 million.
Paramount Pictures will field two very different films during the holiday frame: Martin Scorsese's long-awaited religious epic "Silence," and kids movie "Monster Trucks."
"Silence," about two 17th century priests (Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield) who journey to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson)," is expected to expand to more than 600 theaters on Friday in order to capitalize on awards buzz. It cost $45 million to make.
Paramount's "Monster Trucks" is expected to be the big flop of the weekend, given its production cost. The $125-million movie about a teenager whose truck is inhabited by a tentacled, computer-animated monster, is headed for a weak $8-million to $10-million debut. The studio's parent company Viacom has already announced it will take a $115-million writedown for a movie widely thought to be the long-delayed "Monster Trucks."