Few (with the exception of MoviePass) expected too much from Warner Brothers’ sci-fi horror flick, The Meg. It wasn’t positioned during a big summer weekend (the box office typically dies down after the first week of August); though well-liked, Jason Statham has never put up huge numbers when he’s asked to carry a film on his own; and oversized, goofy, so-bad-its-good films like Hurricane Heist, Monster Trucks and Geostorm haven’t been playing well in theaters in recent years. Most predictions put the opening for The Meg in the $15-$20 million range.
However, the first sense that I got that The Meg might overperform was on Thursday around noon, when I was fortunate to land the last two seats for the Thursday night screening of the shark film in my local theater. Sure enough, Thursday showings earned the film around $4 million, or about what Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation earned in its Thursday night screenings in 2015. Projections were revised upward and into the mid-$20 million range, but The Meg managed to handily outperform even those projections, earning an outstanding and completely unexpected $44.5 million opening weekend.
It turns out that The Meg was exactly what audiences want at this time of year: A big, dumb, fun movie starring Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, and a shark big enough to eat a blue whale. The movie was an absolute blast, and while critics weren’t terribly fond of it (51 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), it scratched just the right itch for moviegoers, who rewarded it with a solid B+ Cinemascore, which is a strong showing for a film that is as proudly dumb as The Meg.