‘Call of the Wild’ Takes Close Lead Over ‘Sonic’ at Box Office

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20th Century Studios’ “The Call of the Wild” is doing better than industry projections expected, with Saturday morning estimates now projecting a $27.8 million opening for the family adaptation of Jack London’s short story.

If that result holds after Saturday matinees, it will be enough to take the No. 1 spot from Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which is currently estimated for a $24.8 million second weekend. That’s a 57% drop from the film’s $58 million opening weekend, but consistent with the $25.1 million second weekend earned by “Detective Pikachu” last May. It also makes “Sonic” the first Paramount release in over a year to cross the $100 million domestic mark, the last being the “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee.”

“Call of the Wild” is receiving strong audience reception with an A- on CinemaScore and a 4/5 on Postrak. Critics have also been somewhat positive with a 63% Rotten Tomatoes score. However, the film’s heavy use of CGI to create its St. Bernard protagonist the animals he encounters gave this film a reported budget of $135 million, making profitability very unlikely.

Even if it flops, “The Call of the Wild” won’t be a big hit against Disney, who is distributing the film after acquiring it with the rest of 20th Century Fox. With the exception of some modest profits from a couple of films like the Oscar-winning “Ford v Ferrari” and the low-budget faith-based film “Breakthrough,” the Fox slate Disney acquired has not been a major moneymaker but rather an extra cost Disney has taken on in order to acquire recognizable IP like “Avatar” and “The Simpsons” for Disney+ and future theatrical releases.

Disney will look to make its billions at the box office with a slate that starts in two weeks with the Pixar film “Onward” and includes films like “Mulan,” “Black Widow,” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” 20th Century Studios will also still have a chance to contribute to Disney’s annual grosses with Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story” in December.

In third is WB’s “Birds of Prey” with an estimated $7 million third weekend that gives it a $72 million domestic total. In fourth is the STX/Lakeshore horror film “Brahms: The Boy II,” which is estimated to take in $6 million in its opening weekend from 2,151 screens. That’s below the $10 million opening earned by the first “Boy,” but still meets both tracker and studio projections. However, reception has been poor with a C- on CinemaScore and 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Completing the top 5 is Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” which is still holding strong with an estimated $6 million in its sixth weekend. That brings the film close to the $200 million domestic mark with $191 million grossed.