Most box-office pundits, including myself, believed that Aquaman had another week in the top spot before Glass finally unseated it. We were wrong. It’s not that Aquaman performed poorly in its fourth week, either. It fell only 44 percent (typical) to score $17.2 million, bringing its total to $287 million domestic, pushing it over $1 billion worldwide. The surprise is not in Aquaman’s performance but in the film that unseated it, STX Films’ The Upside.
Early predictions on The Upside suggested it would come in well below $15 million, and while Kevin Hart promoted the film heavily on the talk-show circuit, much of the conversation seemed to be focused onon his Oscars controversy instead of The Upside. The critics certainly didn’t help matters, giving the movie a 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
However, audiences clearly loved it, giving The Upside an A Cinemascore — in fact, it scored higher with audiences than any Kevin Hart film ever released. The good word of mouth should also help the film survive and thrive in its second weekend against Glass on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, where Kevin Hart films (Ride Along, Ride Along 2, The Wedding Ringer) have historically played well.
From acquisition to release, it was a long road for The Upside, inspired by the crowd-pleasing 2011 French film The Intouchables, the second-highest grossing homegrown film ever in France. A number of directors were attached the project over the years, including Paul Feig, Tom Shadyac, and Simon Curtis, before Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) came aboard. Colin Firth was originally attached in the Bryan Cranston role while Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Idris Elba, and Chris Tucker were all eyed for the role that Kevin Hart was eventually cast in (Jessica Chastain and Michelle Williams were considered for the Nicole Kidman role). Nearly five years after rights to the American remake were purchased, production finally began in late 2016. The film screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2017 with an original release date in March 2018. However, The Weinstein Company pulled the film from the schedule in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the film was left in limbo. STX Films smartly picked it up in August and recut the movie from an R to a PG-13 to give it a broader appeal. Now it’s the studio’s first number one film ever.