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Box Office: ‘IF’ Hopes to Make Millions of Friends With $40M Opening

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The first major studio family film of summer 2024 opens the box office this weekend, and it couldn’t boast more star power.

Writer-director John Krasinski‘s IF — headlining Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming alongside an A-list voice cast — explores the world of discarded imaginary friends and what happens when a young girl and her neighbor try to reunite them with their previous human pals.

The live-action/CGI animated Paramount pic is tracking for a domestic debut in the $40 million range. Reviews so far are mixed, but good audience scores will arguably matter more in this case. Plus, there’s a pent-up demand for family products that all ages can go see.

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Unless there is a total upset, IF should top the box office and wrest the crown from Disney and 20th Century Studio’s male-fueled Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, which overperformed in North America with a $58.6 million opening last weekend, the second-best launch of the four-title rebooted franchise. The movie, which is only days away from crossing $100 million domestically is expected to earn $25 million to $28 million this week if all goes well.

Some think IF could come in north of $40 million, but the family marketplace has never fully recovered from the pandemic and the proliferation of streaming. Also, original family films are few and far between outside of Pixar. To date, the biggest opening for an original live-action family title belongs to 2011’s Hop ($37.5 million), not adjusted for inflation. Hop also was a CGI hybrid.

Krasinski has certainly proven his chops at original storytelling in the horror-thriller space with the Quiet Place series.

IF, which couldn’t be more different, revolves around Bea (Fleming) who’s temporarily staying with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone apartment while her father (Krasinski) awaits surgery. In her vulnerability, she starts seeing imaginary friends everywhere, such as butterfly-like Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and lovable furry giant Blue (Steve Carell). She quickly learns that her grumpy neighbor (Reynolds) has the same gift. Together, they decide to try to reunite the “IFs,” as they are known, with their onetime pals.

The voice cast also features Emily Blunt, Louis Gossett Jr., Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Sebastian Maniscalco, Christopher Meloni, Awkwafina, Blake Lively, George Clooney, Matthew Rhys, Bradley Cooper, Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key. The live-action cast is rounded out by Fiona Shaw, Alan Kim, Liza Colón-Zayas and Bobby Moynihan.

Two other movies open nationwide this weekend, Lionsgate’s latest horror offering, Strangers: Chapter One, and Focus Features’ Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black.

“The Strangers – Chapter One” John Armour/Lionsgate

The micro-budgeted Strangers is tracking to open in the $7 million to $9 million range in another test of whether there is horror fatigue at the box office.

Directed by Renny Harlin, the movie stars Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez who are forced to spend the night in a remote cabin when their car breaks down in a creepy small town. Panic ensues as they are terrorized by three masked strangers.

Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse in director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s ‘Back to Black.’ Courtesy of Focus Features

While launching nationwide in more than 2,000 cinema, Back to Black is still considered something of a specialty play and is far less commercial in scope than a biopic such as Rocketman or Bohemian Rhapsody. It also has been rejected by many critics, which is never a good thing for an adult drama. The movie, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and starring Marisa Abela as the iconic singer-songwriter, is tracking for $4 million to $6 million domestic. Focus/Universal acquired domestic and certain international rights from Studio Canal, which produced the movie and worked with the Winehouse estate.

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