Two years after the runaway success of “Get Out” turned Jordan Peele into one of the hottest writer-directors in the entertainment business, Hollywood is seeing double.
Peele’s follow-up effort, “Us,” about a family terrorized by freaky doppelgangers, is poised to become another box office hit for the Oscar-winning filmmaker. The highly anticipated “Us” is expected to gross $35 million to $45 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada Friday through Sunday, according to people who’ve read pre-release audience surveys.
A debut in that range would exceed the $33-million launch of “Get Out” in February 2017, and could be enough to unseat Walt Disney Co.’s blockbuster “Captain Marvel” from its perch at No. 1 on the domestic charts.
Normally, inviting comparisons to a film like “Get Out” would be a movie’s worst nightmare. That earlier film became a cultural and commercial sensation by combining Peele’s humor and love of horror cinema to tap into American racial tensions. It grossed $255 million worldwide, scored a best picture Oscar nomination and introduced “the sunken place” into the lexicon (Peele won the Oscar for original screenplay).
But there are strong signs that Peele, armed with an estimated $20-million production budget (compared with “Get Out’s” $4.5 million in costs), won’t suffer a sophomore slump. “Us” debuted to a rapturous response at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, this month and holds a strong 98% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As with “Get Out,” “Us” is distributed by Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, which has waged a robust marketing campaign for the film, targeting a broad horror audience, as well as African American influencers with early screenings in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York.
“Get Out” producers Jason Blum and Sean McKittrick rejoined Peele to produce “Us,” which stars Lupita Nyong’o as a woman who returns to her beachside childhood home with her husband played by Winston Duke (“Black Panther”).
One thing to watch is how well “Us,” which is not as political as “Get Out,” holds up after its opening weekend. Driven by word-of-mouth praise, “Get Out” continued to play strongly at theaters for weeks, whereas as most horror-thrillers come and go quickly.
No other film is expected to take on “Captain Marvel” this weekend, which has surpassed all expectations at the box office.
The Marvel Studios film, starring Brie Larson, has grossed $779 million worldwide so far, including $270 million in the U.S. and Canada and $134 million in China. The movie is on track to eventually cross the $1 billion milestone, according to analysts. In the U.S. and Canada, “Captain Marvel” should add an additional $30 million or so Friday through Sunday.
“Captain Marvel” has been a boon to North American theater owners, whose grosses were down 26% from a year ago before the superhero film opened. Cinemas are looking for a bigger boost from the upcoming summer season. Movies have generated $2 billion in revenue in the U.S. and Canada as of Monday, according to Comscore, down 19% from the same period in 2018.
The film came in second place in China last week with about $43 million in sales, behind the Taiwanese romantic drama “More Than Blue,” according to Artisan Gateway, a consulting firm for the Asian film industry.