Weekend Box Office: One Dud, One Underperformer, And One DOA

This weekend saw three new wide releases vie for President’s Day box-office dollars, but each also had to compete with three huge hits from last weekend, and the holdovers ultimately came out on top, drubbing all three newcomers in their opening weekends.

LEGO Batman once again topped the weekend, although it is experiencing a much bigger drop in its second weekend than the original LEGO Movie. However, over the four-day holiday it is expected to add around $41 million to bring its total to $106 million after 11 days. Once international grosses are accounted for, the second in the LEGO franchise should turn a tidy profit (on a $80 million budget) and set up the next installment in September, LEGO Ninjago. I don’t expect, either, that Rock Dog will put up much in the way of competition next weekend, so LEGO Batman should continue to dominate the kid’s market until the arrival of the live-action Beauty and the Beast on March 17th.

Second place went to another holdover, Fifty Shades Darker, which will tumble nearly 70 percent off its first weekend but end the President’s Day frame with around $25 million. Thanks to hefty receipts on Valentine’s Day, the film should end the weekend poised to break the $100 million mark with $94 million, while it has also added $95 million internationally. The $55 million budgeted film will cross $200 million globally after only 11 days, meaning there’s plenty enough here left in the tank to sustain next Valentine’s Day third film in the trilogy.

In third place was a newcomer, Matt Damon’s The Great Wall, but it looks to end the four-day weekend with a very weak $19 million for a movie ticketed at $150 million before marketing and advertising costs. That’s not good, and domestically, The Great Wall is going to be a huge dud. However, the movie wasn’t necessarily relying on American audiences to turn a profit. The film has already made $224 million internationally, including $170 million in China, which co-produced the film with American studios. The Great Wall was the first major attempt to make a movie designed to appeal to both Chinese and American audiences equally (with a huge American actor and Chinese director Zhang Yimou), and while it succeeded in China, they clearly haven’t found the right formula for cross-sectional appeal.

The reviews were not good for The Great Wall (36 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and the whitewashing controversy didn’t help matters, but I think the killer for The Great Wall was the miscasting of Matt Damon (with a pony tail) for a huge action spectacle. It’s not just that Damon isn’t a huge box office star here outside of the Bourne franchise, it’s also that the Bourne franchise wasn’t particularly big in China, either. This kind of movie probably could’ve benefited from a presence like The Rock or even Keanu Reeves.

Speaking of Reeves, his John Wick: Chapter 2 took fourth place this weekend, holding modestly well and adding around $18 million to bring its total to $60 million, making it the biggest box-office hit for Keanu Reeves since 2008’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, although Wick should come close to $100 million stateside, making it his biggest hit as the central star since 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions. Reeves, by the way, is 52 years old and still kicking ass.

Fifth place went to another newcomer, Charlie Day and Ice Cube’s Fist Fight, an unofficial remake of Three O’Clock High. It badly underperformed and will end the weekend with a mere $12.3 million (on a $25 million budget). It wasn’t a huge investment, though, and while Ice Cube has proven capable of opening films with Kevin Hart (Ride Along) or as part of an ensemble (the Barbershop movies), Charlie Day doesn’t have an extensive box-office history to rely upon outside of the Horrible Bosses movie. His fanbase is still the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia crowd and this movie doesn’t exactly appeal to the same demo (in fact, casting Day as the straight man was a terrible idea, because Sunny fans like myself spent the entire movie waiting for Charlie Day to be “Charle Day,” and that moment never really arrived). At least we’ll get to see Day return next year for the sequel to Pacific Rim.

Slots six through eight all went to holdovers. Hidden Figures continues to chug along, adding nearly another $9 million to bring its total to $144 million, the biggest box office hit among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture (it also surpasses Sister Act as the highest grossing film featuring a black female lead). Split‘s $8.3 million brings the M. Night Shyamalan film to $124 million overall on top of its modest $57 million internationally, which is gravy for a horror film that only cost $9 million to produce. Eighth place went to A Dog’s Purpose which is hanging on better than it has any right to be (it crossed the $50 million mark this weekend).
La La Land will spend at least one more week in the top ten before the Oscars. It’ll finish the weekend with nearly $6 million and a $135 million overall. It is currently a favorite to win Best Picture, although Moonlight ($22 million) is coming on strong.

Meanwhile, Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness is dead on arrival, amassing only $4.7 million over the four-day weekend, which barely covers the cost of that $5 million the film spent on a Super Bowl ad. The film only cost $40 million, but I’m not sure why New Regency and Fox (which co-produced) put so much money into advertising a film that only appealed to a limited demographic anyway. I had considered checking it out myself, but the poor reviews (38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) combined with its two-and-a-half hour runtime was enough to convince me to skip it. I don’t mind a bad movie, but that’s a huge time commitment for mediocrity. The Verbinski film — which finished in 11th place — will have an uphill climb if it expects to break even, and it will need to rely heavily on international grosses.

Next week the Oscars will air and they don’t expect to face much competition at the box office when Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones’ Collide takes on Rock Dog and Jordan Peele’s Get Out (of which I have heard nothing but outstanding things).

Sources: Forbes, Deadline, Box Office Mojo