After five weeks of ho-hum business, the North America box office bounced back to life this weekend thanks to the big debuts of The LEGO Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter Two. While it was the best weekend of 2017 so far for the film industry, business did continue to lag behind 2016’s numbers. The top ten for this weekend was down 20% from last year at this time when Fox’s Deadpool dominated with $132.4 million.
Three years ago this month, The LEGO Movie surprised everyone with its box office performance. The critically acclaimed animated feature opened to $69 million and went on to gross a massive $257 million. Not surprisingly, a sequel was given the go ahead as were a few spinoff features.
The first of those, The LEGO Batman Movie, opened this weekend on 4,088 screens. Featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis and Michael Cera, LEGO Batman rode waves of marketing hype and strong reviews to land a super $55.6 million domestically and an additional $37 million from overseas in its first three days of release. Like The LEGO Movie, LEGO Batman appealed to pretty much all demographics, which should greatly help with its box office longevity. The LEGO Movie 2 is due in February 2019.
In second place with an estimated $46.8 million from 3,710 theaters was the Universal mommy porn sequel Fifty Shades Darker (or, if you live in the Boston area, Fifty Shades Dahhhhhkah, Chief). The second film based on the E.L. James book series opened 45% lower than 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which earned $85.1 million in its first weekend. The film had better luck outside the United States, where it whipped up $100 million this weekend.
Critical notices for the second Fifty flick were nothing short of atrocious. The James Foley-directed drama earned a 9% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, considerably below the 25% the first movie scored two years ago. Ticket buyers were a little more enthused by the film. They gave the movie a “B+” CinemaScore rating. Despite that slight bit of good news, the weekend business saw steady declines following its opening day. Saturday saw traffic decrease by 26% and Sunday’s drop is estimated to be 40%.
The film should get a bit of a boost on Tuesday thanks to Hallmark Card Day, but it probably will not be enough to stop the law of diminishing returns from doing its job. The third and final chapter, Fifty Shades Freed, will arrive next February.
For those not interested in cartoon crime fighters or big budget Skinimax flicks, there was Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 2, which blasted its way into third place with an estimated $30 million from 3,113 theaters. The follow up to the 2014 sleeper hit featuring Keanu Reeves as a revenge-seeking assassin was a hit with critics – 90% approval on Rotten Tomatoes- and ticket buyers, who gave the action sequel an “A-“ on CinemaScore.
The opening numbers for the new Wick flick were 108% higher than the $14.1 million brought in by the original in its first three days. That film went on to earn a decent $43 million before becoming a sizeable home video hit. Chapter Two should be able to at least double that amount by the end of its theatrical run.
Universal’s Split descended three spots to fourth place this weekend but continued to deliver the scares on 2,961 screens. The popular thriller dipped 35% in its fourth week of release to scare up an estimated $9.3 million, bringing its domestic total to $112 million. Overseas, the thriller has earned $57 million so far.
Rounding out the top five this weekend was Fox’s Hidden Figures with $8 million from 2,667 theaters. Off 21% from its seventh week of release, the domestic total for the biggest hit of 2017 so far now stands at $131.4 million.
- A Dog’s Purpose (Universal) $7.3 million (-30%); $42.5 million
- Rings (Paramount) $5.8 million (-55%); $21.4 million
- La La Land (Lionsgate/Summit) $5 million (-32%); $126 million
- Lion (Weinstein) $4 million (+9%); $30.3 million
- The Space Between Us (STX) $1.76 million (-53%); $6.5 million
For President’s Day weekend, the new multiplex offerings will include A Cure for Wellness, Fist Fight and The Great Wall. Watch for LEGO Batman to rule the roost for a second week.