Elsewhere, Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Molly’s Game’ expands nationwide.
Insidious: The Last Key scared up $1.98 million in preview screenings on Thursday night for a projected domestic debut in the $21 million-$22 million range as 2018 gets underway at the box office.
The Universal horror pic is the fourth outing in the Blumhouse franchise — as well as the last — and looks to open on par with the last installment, but behind the $40.3 million launch of Insidious Chapter 2. This time, the story follows the final adventure of Lin Shaye’s ghost-whispering character, Elise Rainier, the parapsychologist who investigates the recent supernatural disturbances of a home she lived in when she was younger. Adam Robitel takes over to direct from a script again written by Leigh Whannell.
The Insidious series began with the 2011 movie directed by James Wan and starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne. Wan also directed the 2013 sequel, and Whannell made his directorial debut with the prequel in 2015. The franchise has grossed $392 million worldwide.
Insidious 4 is in a close battle with Disney/Lucasfilms’ Star Wars: The Last Jedi — now in its fourth weekend and posting a global total of $1.122 billion through Thursday — for the No. 2 spot behind Sony’s holiday hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which is projected to gross north of $25 million. One wild card is the weather, and whether frigid temperature in the Northeast and other parts of the country will slow moviegoing.
Additionally, the weekend sees the nationwide expansion of STXfilms and producer Mark Gordon’s Molly’s Game into a total of 1,608 theaters. The adult-skewing film is pacing to gross a modest $5 million-plus.
Marking Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game stars Jessica Chastain as the real-life Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob, and her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer.
Chastain, who stars opposite Idris Elba, is up for best actress at Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremony, while Sorkin is up for best adapted screenplay. Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd and Bill Camp co-star.
Among other Golden Globe nominees, Steven Spielberg’s The Post ups its theater count from nine cinemas to 36. Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, the Pentagon Papers drama boasts six Globe noms (additionally, the Trump White House asked to screen the movie this weekend). Based on early estimates, The Post should nab a strong theater average of $30,000 or more.
Jan. 5, 1:15 p.m. Updated with weekend estimates.