Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Split - $40.1 million ($40.1 million total)
2. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage - $20.0 million ($20.0 million total)
3. Hidden Figures - $16.2 million ($84.2 million total)
4. Sing - $9.0 million ($249.3 million total)
5. La La Land - $8.3 million ($89.6 million total)
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - $7.0 million ($512.2 million total)
7. Monster Trucks - $7.0 million ($22.6 million total)
8. Patriots Day - $6.0 million ($23.6 million total)
9. The Founder - $3.75 million ($3.7 million total)
10. Sleepless - $3.70 million ($15.1 million total)
The Big Stories
Unlike the winter storms and hurricanes that are frequently blamed for a decline in box office, people still found time to go out and see some movies despite the face that so many spent their Saturday marching. The shock is that people still have not given up on M. Night Shyamalan. Despite disappointing them over and over they seem to want to believe that each successive film might just be the comeback he’s been after. Even more shocking is that some pundits still haven’t figured out that audiences don’t care as much about Vin Diesel if its not a Fast & Furious film.
“And Her Skull SPLIT!”
Give credit to the release date or the marketing that intrigued people, but only Signs, The Village and The Last Airbender opened to higher than Split. Those are totals of $60.1, $50.7 and $40.3 million each and now Split surpasses the $30 million starts of The Happening and Unbreakable. Frankly no one can say the guy cannot open a movie. Lady in the Water is the only wide release on his resume to open to under $25 million. Whether or not the word-of-mouth can continue drawing them in is the bigger issue. When you consider the multiples of The Village (2.25), Lady in the Water (2.34), The Happening (2.11), After Earth (2.19) and The Visit (2.56) it will be interesting to see how audiences continue to talk about Split. Do they love the ending or hate it? Shyamalan has not had a film break $100 million since The Last Airbender. Only six movies have ever opened to $40 million or more and not hit nine digits (Scary Movie 4, Insidious Chapter 2, Friday the 13th (2009), Paranormal Activity 2, Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, High School Musical 3). Where will Split end up? Doesn’t seem to matter given that it’s Blumhouse-induced $10 million budget means that the film is already a solid hit.
Which xXx Is Returning Again?
On one hand it can be spun that nobody wanted an xXx movie without Vin Diesel as evidenced by Ice Cube assuming the duties for State of the Union back in 2005. It grossed just $26.8 million after starting with $12.7 million. On the other, can anyone say thet really wanted another xXx even with Vin Diesel? The original grossed over $142 million in the wake of him leaving the Fast & Furious series with director Rob Cohen. But then he left THAT franchise too, only later returning to F&F and helping it continue to be a global phenomenon. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage will not be labeled as such after just a $20 million start.
The global phenomenon is Paramount’s only hope for this $85 million production not being another red stain on their books. And its off to at least a decent start overseas adding another $50 million to the bottom line. As for Diesel’s box office resume, xXx 3 is marginally better than the opening of Riddick but not as good as that franchise’s first sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick which started with $24.2 million, still well below his best non-F&F headliner, The Pacifier which began with $30.5 million. Not that a sequel to that is warranted but this is likely to fall into the sub-$60 million grossers that Diesel has starred in.
Tales of the Top Ten
We are just a few days away from the Oscar nominations and you should expect Fox’s Hidden Figures to be one of the top nominees. Not that it needs the help at the box office as its already grossed over $84 million and is turning into a much-needed success for the studio. Expect its numbers to continue shining along with Lionsgate’s La La Land which is going to be the top nominee in the double digits and should see a bump next weekend because of it. By the time it is receiving its golden statuettes for Emma Stone, director Damien Chazelle and Best Picture amongst others it should also be the highest-grossing non-franchise film in Lionsgate’s history, surpassing Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
The big winners of the holiday movie season continue to add to 2016’s record domestic box office total. Rogue One is attempting to surpass The Dark Knight for 6th at the box office. It has already passed a billion dollars worldwide making it the record 4th film released by Disney last year to accomplish that feat and 13th overall out of 28 films that have done it. Sing may be losing the battle to match its Illumination cousins in the $300 million club but it’s $245 million is currently good enough for 10th of 2016 and its $427 million worldwide more than makes this another hit for them and Universal.
As for last week’s sad batch of films, it is a crawl towards the saddest finish line. Monster Trucks is already four months removed from being written off by Paramount. So every dollar must seem like a dealer’s bust on a King in Blackjack. Though with still only $41 million in the bank worldwide it won’t be nearly enough to not walk away from the table with a full-on bust. Speaking of which, Patriots Day is a truly surprising bust and Lionsgate must be kicking themselves that they did not go more cynical and make the advertising a hunt for the terrorists rather than a tragedy and the triumph of the human spirit. A greater bloodlust may have resulted in more than just $24 million at the box office. The Bye Bye Man took its expected huge drop right out of the top ten and is now looking like it may indeed be a bit of a loser for STX though incomparable to the previous films mentioned nor even Open Road’s Sleepless which people still remembered was out unlike the studio who appear to have written off the film weeks ago.
That leaves us with the shrinking violet that is the Weinstein Co. They’ve had a pretty good run, but Quentin Tarantino’s low returns on The Hateful Eight may have been the final straw in Harvey’s stranglehold on the indie film scene. The Founder looks to be the latest casualty. After months of shifting release dates from December to August then back to December for a limited awards run and finally into 1,100 theaters this week, a final publicity push with TV spots and talk show appearances resulted in just $3.7 million this weekend. With the release of Gold next week looking to be a similar bust, the saddest run to the finish line may actually be of The Weinstein Co.
Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]