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Box Office: ‘Bob Marley’ Biopic Faces Off Against ‘Madame Web’ Over Holiday Weekend

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Roses are red, violets are blue, two new movies will open in theaters on Valentine’s Day, but neither is expected to break through.

Paramount’s musical biopic “Bob Marley: One Love” is projected to collect $30 million to $35 million between Wednesday and President’s Day on Monday. Those ticket sales should be enough to lead over Sony’s comic book adventure “Madame Web,” which looks to generate $22 million to $25 million during the same six-day period.

Given the budgets of each film — “Bob Marley” cost $70 million and “Madame Web” cost $80 million, not including marketing — those aren’t especially encouraging estimates. Even worse, those anemic figures span six days, not the traditional three-day weekend.

The presence of two new offerings will be a welcome boost for cinemas. But it won’t be enough to revive the domestic box office as it remains down 15% from 2023. Comparisons to last year will be tough because Disney’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” opened to $120 million over the long President’s Day holiday (though ticket sales swiftly plummeted.) Barring a surprise this weekend, moviegoing may not rebound until Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi sequel “Dune: Part Two” lands on March 1.

“Madame Web” features Dakota Johnson, no stranger to the Valentine’s Day box office as the star of the steamy, commercially successful “Fifty Shades” trilogy. (All of which landed in theaters on the love-centric day.) But this year’s holiday stretch isn’t looking as sweet. Though “Madame Web” has only a tenuous connection to Marvel Comics, it’s arriving at a terrible time for superhero movies. Last November’s “The Marvels” ended its run as the lowest-grossing movie in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, while four out of the four 2023 comic book tentpoles from Warner Bros. and DC majorly flopped at the box office. With Sony’s Marvel offshoots, the studio has a mixed track record. Tom Hardy’s 2018 “Venom” and its 2021 sequel became a huge hit, while the Jared Leto-led “Morbius” failed to charm audiences and tapped out with $167 million in 2022.

Word-of-mouth likely won’t help “Madame Web,” which has a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, become the next “Venom.” Rolling Stone’s critic David Fear called the film “a genuine Chernobyl-level disaster,” while Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge referred to it as a “hollow Spider-Man spinoff with none of the charm you expect from even the most basic superhero movie.” In the S.J. Clarkson-directed film, Johnson plays the clairvoyant Cassie Webb, a paramedic with some sort of connection to Spider-Man. She teams with three young women (including Sydney Sweeney) as they are hunted by a deadly adversary.

“Bob Marley: One Love” isn’t a critical darling either, but reviews were nowhere near as brutal. Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”) directed and co-wrote the PG-13 “Bob Marley,” in which Kingsley Ben-Adir plays the iconic reggae singer and Lashana Lynch plays his wife Rita. Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman praised the performance of Ben-Adir, who “inhabits Marley with the finesse of a movie-star showman,” but wasn’t a fan of the movie, which captures the life and times of the Jamaican singer. In his review, he wrote that “the film tells you a lot about Bob Marley, yet it never quite figures out what his journey is.”