Weekend Box Office: Helen Mirren's 'Winchester' Tackling Competiton


Super Bowl weekend is one of the quietest frames of the year in terms of moviegoing.

CBS Films and Lionsgate’s classic haunted house tale Winchester, starring Helen Mirren, is performing ahead of expectations in its box-office debut, according to early Friday returns.

The genre pic is winning the Friday race for a possible No. 1 finish over Super Bowl weekend, one of the quietest frames of the year in terms of moviegoing. Projections show Winchester grossing $4 million or more on Friday for a possible debut north of $10 million. CBS and Lionsgate insiders are being more cautious, suggesting $8 million-$10 million.

Either way, it could be a close race between Winchester and two holdovers; Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) and Maze Runner: The Death Cure (20th Century Fox). And don’t count out Hugh Jackman’s musical The Greatest Showman (Fox).

Heading into the weekend, Winchester was tracking to open in the $7 million-$8 million range.

The period supernatural thriller is inspired by the real-life tale of Sarah Winchester, the eccentric 19th century heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. fortune who spent her life constructing an enormous mansion in San Jose, California, complete with secret passages and trap doors, in order to keep at bay what she thought were the angry spirits of the people killed by her family’s firearms.

In the film, Winchester (Mirren) is visited by a skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist (Jason Clarke) who discovers that her obsession may not be so insane after all.

Sarah Snook and Angus Sampson also star in Winchester, which was directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig and produced by Tim McGahan and Brett Tomberlin. CBS Films acquired rights to the movie for a modest $3.5 million.

Elsewhere, several films nominated for top Oscars are hoping to score major points, led by Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which is upping its theater count from 1,854 locations to more than 2,305.

Specialty distributor Fox Searchlight is on double duty, between Shape of Water and multiple Oscar nominee Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which will up its theater count from 1,457 locations to more than 1,700. It’s the first time that Fox Searchlight has had films playing in 4,000 or more theaters on any given weekend.

Both Shape of Water and Three Billboards are up for the best picture Oscar, the gold standard when it comes to enjoying a box-office bump. Other movies scoring top noms can also benefit this weekend, with I, Tonya hoping that’s the case as it moves into more than 1,500 cinemas. The dramedy, from Neon and 30West, stars Oscar-nominated Margot Robbie as disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding. 


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