Box-Office Preview: Helen Mirren’s ‘Winchester’ Hopes to Out-Spook the Super Bowl

Courtesy of CBS Films
‘Winchester’

Elsewhere, Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-nominated ‘The Shape of Water’ makes its biggest push yet.

CBS Films and Lionsgate’s spooky pic Winchester — starring Helen Mirren — is the only new film daring to open over Super Bowl weekend, one of the quietest frames of the year in terms of moviegoing.

If prerelease tracking is correct, Winchester will take in $7 million-$9 million, not enough to unseat holdover Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

The period supernatural thriller is inspired by the real-life tale of Sarah Winchester, the eccentric 19th Century heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune who spent her life constructing an enormous mansion in San Jose, Calif., 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 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 the movie, which was directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig. Tim McGahan and Brett Tomberlin produced. 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 over Super Bowl weekend, led by Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which ups its theater count from 1,854 locations to more than 2,305. The Shape of Water, leading all other films with 13 Oscar noms, has grossed just north of $40 million to date domestically.

Specialty distributor Fox Searchlight is on double duty, between Shape of Water and multiple Oscar nominee Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which ups its theater count from 1,457 locations to more than 1,700. Three Billboards has likewise earned around $40 million to date in the U.S.

It’s the first time that Searchlight has ever 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 A24, stars the Oscar-nominated Margot Robbie as disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding.

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