Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend was very kind to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence this year, as they managed to revive their 25-year-old franchise after a 17-year absence. Bad Boys For Life, the third installment in the franchise, traded director Michael Bay for coherent action sequences, and the trade off paid off. Adil and Bilall’s Bad Boys For Life impressed critics (76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), wowed audiences with an ‘A’ Cinemascore, and turned in a fantastic $68 million for the four-day weekend. It’s the second best opening ever on MLK weekend behind only American Sniper, and it is Sony’s largest R-rated debut ever. It also grabbed over $37 million overseas, so it will break $100 million by Monday.
Movies with long gaps between sequels do not always perform well at the box office (see Terminator 3, 4, 5, and 6), especially when the previous entry was a stinker (see Terminator 4, 5, and 6), but Bad Bays for Life clearly pulled a Halloween and essentially reset, but with some sly nods to the first two films. With a good Cinemascore and solid worth of mouth, Bad Boys for Life will likely be the biggest game in town for at least a couple of weeks, before Birds of Prey arrives on February 7th. A fourth Bad Boys movie is already being planned.
Meanwhile, Dolittle opened with $30 million over the four-day weekend. On the one hand, that’s a terrible opening given the $175 million price tag, the presence of Robert Downey, Jr., and a murderer’s row of voice talent. On the other hand, I honestly can’t believe that Dolittle managed to earn $30 million, which is not that bad considering the brutal reviews (19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), a weak Cinemascore (a ‘B’ is not great for a family film), and the amount of bad press the film has been getting for the better part of a year. It did manage to best expectations, too (it was predicted to open in the $20-$22 million range).
The rest of the top ten were all holdovers, but shout-out to 1917, which dropped only forty percent in its second weekend of wide release and nearly overtook Dolittle, earning $27 million to bring its ten-day total to $81 million. It clearly benefited at least a little from its 11 Oscar nominations last Monday.
Interestingly, in its sixth week, Jumanji: Next Level finally overtook Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in spite of the latter opening after Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson’s sequel. They earned $12.8 million and $10.3 million respectively, although Skywalker is well ahead in the cumulative numbers. It’s earned $493 million to Jumanji‘s $273 million, and over $1 billion to the latter’s $700 million worldwide.
Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan were snubbed by the Oscars this year for their performances in Just Mercy, but the Destin Daniel Cretton film is doing alright in its second weekend thanks to its A+ Cinemascore. It earned $7.2 million to bring its total to $20.9 million. In its fourth weekend of wide release, Little Women — which received six nominations (though, notably, not one for Greta Gerwig) — earned $6.4 million to bring its total to $84.9 million. Hopefully, that Oscar buzz can keep it in theaters long enough to tally $100 million.
Rian Johnson’s phenomenal Knives Out — Oscar nominee for best script — is the second longest running movie in the top 10. In its eighth week, it came in 8th place, earning $5.25 million to bring its total to $146.9 million. It’s the wide release in the top ten with the best hold for the fifth week in a row. The longest running film in the top ten dates back to the week before Thanksgiving. Frozen 2 is still going, earning another $4.7 million to bring its total to $465 million. It nudged out Like a Boss, which earned $3.8 million in its second weekend and comes in tenth place. It has now earned $17 million, but will soon be shuffled out of theaters.
Next weekend, there are two wide releases, but I don’t expect either will supplant Bad Boys for Life. Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen with Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, and Henry Golding will take on the horror film, The Turning, with Mackenzie Davis and Finn Wolfhard.