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.
Bizarrely, however, even with a nearly $45 million opening, The Meg may have a hard time reaching profitability, as it reportedly cost $175 million to make. Co-produced with China Media Capital, The Meg was designed to derive much of its box-office success in the Asian market. In that regard, The Meg is playing well overseas, as well, racking up around $90 million in its opening weekend internationally.
Meanwhile, Mission Impossible — Fallout continues to perform very well in its third weekend despite competition from the Statham shark film, earning another $20 million to bring its overall total to $161 million, and putting it on pace to potentially become the highest grossing Mission Impossible film. Disney’s Christopher Robin, meanwhile, maintained the number three spot, adding $12.7 million to bring its 10-day total to a hair short of $50 million.
In at number four with $11.3 million is the horror film Slender Man, which some thought would take the top spot this weekend. However, dreadful reviews (11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and terrible word of mouth (a D- on Cinemascore) sank the film, with many calling it perfunctory and boring.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansmen came in at number five with $10.8 million on only 1,500 screens, scoring the filmmaker one of the bigger openings of his career, and the biggest since 2006’s Inside Man. The film, which only cost $15 million to produce, has been able to take advantage of a positive reception from both critics (97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences, which give the film an A- Cinemascore.
Holdovers landed the bottom five spots in the top ten this weekend. The already disappointing performer The Spy Who Dumped Me dropped nearly 50 percent, earning only $5.8 million and bringing its two-week total to $23 million. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again crossed the $100 million mark after adding $5.4 million into its coffers. Equalizer 2 generated $5.1 million in revenue to bring its total to $89 million. Hotel Transylvania 3 has $146 million overall after a $4.8 million weekend haul, and Ant-Man And The Wasp enjoys one more week in the top ten, earning $3.9 million to cross the $200 million mark.
There was also one other new entry, the Ken Marino-directed film Dog Days. It did not perform well, gathering only $2.5 million over the weekend and $3.5 million since its Wednesday opening. Reviews for the film, however, were not as bad as I was expecting, as it achieved a 60 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Next week will be an interesting and potentially important one, as Crazy Rich Asians opens on Wednesday and hopes to spike interest at the box office — not only for rom-coms, but for films with Asian-American casts. It will face off against the action-thriller Alpha, as well as Mile 22, Peter Berg’s fourth film in a row with Mark Wahlberg as its leading man.