The box office debut of “Hellboy” may not be the knockout blow to “Shazam!” that Lionsgate was hoping for this weekend. The reboot of the franchise launched in theaters this week, picking up an estimated $1.38M during Thursday night previews across 2,700 locations. Based on the early turnout, the film is expected to make between $20M and $23M on opening weekend, which would spell trouble for Lionsgate. These are only estimates, and there’s still time left for “Hellboy” to punch his way to the top, but the reviews aren’t helping his case.
“Hellboy” currently sits with a 13% rating on RottenTomatoes from Critics, but fans have pushed the film to a 69% audience score. Critics have been rough on the film, directed by Neil Marshall and starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, and Ian McShane, and the movie needs all the help it can get.
“Hellboy’s” troubles stem from April’s countdown clock, which is ticking away until the release of “Avengers: Endgame” on April 26th. That’s the deadline for most films to cash in their winnings and get out of town. “Hellboy’s” $23M opening puts it at the lower end of the earnings bracket, with very little time to make up the difference.
“Shazam!” is already trending to top “Hellboy” at the domestic box office this weekend. This will be the second week in a row that “Shazam!” earned the number-one spot on the domestic charts. Last week “Shazam!” opened with a $53M debut, and this weekend the film could gross over $25M. While the results of the weekend could be a tie between the two films, “Hellboy” needed the win before battling “The Curse of La Llorona” from Warner Bros. Pictures on April 19th, which is only two weeks away.
We don’t have the Friday estimates yet, but Lionsgate will need a much larger turnout this weekend if “Hellboy” is going to continue in theaters. Looking at the good news, Good Friday usually puts up higher numbers than usual, since more schools and offices are closed for the religious holiday. There’s a chance that “Hellboy” can rebound, and still take the weekend from “Shazam!.” If not, there’s an outside chance that “Hellboy” can make up the lost ground next weekend, which is empty outside of Chrissy Metz and Topher Grace’s “Breakthrough” drama, and Disney’s nature-doc “Penguins.”
Another challenge for the film is that “Hellboy” and “Shazam!” aren’t the only new releases splitting the box office. Jenny Gage’s romance-drama “After,” with Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, also hit theaters this weekend, and so did “Little” with Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and Marsai Martin. The animated-comedy “Missing Link” hit theaters as well this week, but that film doesn’t share the same demographic with the other releases.
The original “Hellboy,” from writer and director Guillermo del Toro, made $23M on its opening weekend back in 2004. The film went on to make $99M on an estimated $66M budget. Guillermo del Toro returned to the franchise with Ron Perlman for a sequel called “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” in 2008, that film made $34M on its debut before grossing $160M worldwide.
We will have a clearer picture when the Friday estimates come in, but as for now, “Hellboy” fans should be rallying their friends together to see the movie this weekend.
The Weekend Box Office Results are updated every Sunday.
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