High Risk, High Reward: ‘Widows’ Will Be a Defining Studio Release of 2018

Today, 20th Century Fox opens Steve McQueen’s “Widows.” Budgeted at $40 million, its first-weekend projection is $20 million. That suggests a performance similar to several recent mid-budget studio releases like “Outlander” or “The Girl In The Spider’s Web,” most of which failed to make a significant dent (only “Night School” grossed over $50 million).

However, “Widows” stands apart: The director won Best Picture with “12 Years a Slave,” and star Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress for “Fences.” It also has terrific advance reviews, prime festival placement, real awards possibilities — and its box office success would have a much greater impact on upcoming production decisions.

With roots in fine art, McQueen has made a big impact in a short time. His 2008 debut “Hunger” about Ira member Bobby Sands was a breakout role for Michael Fasssbender (though it did little domestic business). His sex addict drama “Shame,” again with Fassbender, did better but still very niche business.

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