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Box Office: ‘Rings’ Faces Tough Competition From ‘Split,’ Super Bowl

Variety logo Variety 1/31/2017 Brent Lang
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It’s been over a decade since “The Ring” and its sequel “The Ring Two” first chilled audiences with the havoc wrought by a diabolical videotape. It’s such a long stretch that many of today’s moviegoers will draw a blank at the very concept of watching a movie on a VCR, so unfamiliar are they with the age of “be kind, rewind.”

Credit Paramount with trying to overhaul “Rings,” a new installment in the long-dormant horror franchise, for the Netflix era. Trailers for the latest chapter show a lot of people staring at shocking footage on their laptops, but the studio may still need to have strong stomach. After all, there’s something even scarier than technological anachronisms barreling towards “Rings.” That would be Super Bowl LI, which will dominate the airwaves on Sunday and promises a fight for prime time glory between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

“The Super Bowl is always a big deflator,” said Shawn Robbins, senior analyst at BoxOffice.com. “The majority of movies see a 50% to 60% drop between Saturday and Sunday, with anything targeting male audiences hit the hardest.”

“Rings” follows a young woman who becomes alarmed when her boyfriend starts digging into the subculture surrounding a video so powerful that its viewers are killed within a week of watching it. “Rings” is looking at a debut of between $10 million and $12 million when it opens in approximately 3,000 locations. The film cost $25 million to produce. Naomi Watts, the star of the first two chapters, sat this one out. “Rings'” cast includes Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

That may not be enough to scare off “Split,” the surprisingly resilient M. Night Shyamalan thriller, out of its perch atop the domestic box office. The twisty hit has earned nearly $80 million in its first two weeks of release. It should make between $10 million to $12 million this go round.

Holdovers like Amblin and Universal’s “A Dog’s Purpose” and Fox’s “Hidden Figures” should also hover around the $10 million mark, leading to a lot of congestion among the weekend’s top films.

The weekend’s other new release, STX’s “The Space Between Us,” is looking at a more muted debut of between $8 million to $10 million. The science-fiction release was originally set up at Relativity Media, where it was known as “Out of This World.” It was sold to STX and rechristened when that company fell into bankruptcy. The film stars Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino, and Britt Robertson. It centers on the first human born on Mars, and the inter-planetary friendship he forms with a foster girl who lives on Earth. “The Space Between Us” cost $30 million to produce. STX’s financial exposure was less than $3.7 million after foreign sales, tax credits, and co-financing deals are taken into account.

Both “The Space Between Us” and “Rings” have shifted their release dates. The romantic drama originally was supposed to touch down in theaters last July, while the horror sequel was initially slated to debut in 2015.

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