After of a month of the weekend box office being dominated by Split, the arrival of three new major releases has finally given the top 10 a thorough shake-up. As expected, The LEGO Batman Movie led the pack, with Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2 following. And while each film opened strong, only two of them feel like unqualified successes.
When M. Night Shyamalan’s Split exceeded expectations and became the first big hit of 2017, box office prognosticators wondered if this was the result of a killer marketing campaign or if audiences actually liked the movie. The second weekend made it definitive: Split’s small drop-off indicated positive buzz and strong word-of-mouth, both of which allowed the film to remain on top of the charts for the third weekend in a row, narrowly edging out all newcomers, specifically Rings.
Last week, Split had a huge opening and everyone noted that M. Night Shyamalan was unquestionably back. But now, in week two, it feels a little more official. The second weekend saw the film holding onto its spot at the top of the box office charts, but it also did so while dropping a percentage most movies would kill for. In other words, people like Split and are telling their friends to go see it.
Is it safe to say that M. Night Shyamalan is back? He got his foot in the door a few years ago when The Visit opened to $25 million and went on to make $65 million against a budget of only $5 million, but with the release of Split, he’s officially sitting on the couch, eating your chips and drinking your beer. However, the same could not be said for xXx: Return of Xander Cage, which opened to more lackluster numbers.
After a neck-and-neck race last weekend, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has officially stepped aside to let Hidden Figures reign supreme. The crowd-pleasing drama about the black female mathematicians who assisted NASA in its early days topped the box office, leading a weekend that was otherwise all about films bursting out of limited release. The bulk of the new releases were not so fortunate.
Eventually, some movie will unseat Rogue One: A Star Wars Story from its spot at the top of the box office charts. That movie will not be Hidden Figures, but man, it sure came close. Unless the final numbers shift ever-so-slightly, the drama about the African American women behind the math that helped launch NASA's first space missions came this close to unseating the massively successful blockbuster, taking the runner-up position by less than $1 million.
The headline here is that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story held onto the number one of the box office top 10 for the third weekend in a row, which was expected. However, the real story is that the past few days made for one of the most impressive weekends of the past year, closing out 2016 (and starting 2017) with a bang.
It has long been a fine American tradition to escape the awkward enclosure of your parents’ house over your holiday vacation and spend a few hours in the local movie theater, where everyone can shut up about politics and stop swapping passive aggressive comments on each other’s lifestyle for a few hours. 2016 was no different, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Sing drawing in the big crowds while La La Land and Fences impressed in limited release. Not so impressive: Passengers, Why Him?, and Assassin’s Creed, each of which underperformed.
Consider this the calm before the storm. Next weekend, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will open and dominate both the box office and every headline, drowning out each and every other movie currently screening in theaters. In the meantime, Moana took advantage of this quiet window to win one more strong weekend while Office Christmas Party got off to a pretty good start.
This weekend’s box office was essentially the hangover from last week’s big holiday: the numbers are a little smaller, very little in the top 10 actually moved around, and the only new release didn’t even come close to threatening the dominion of Moana and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The box office success of Moana feels like destiny: an old school Disney formula plus 21st century polish plus great songs plus the mere presence of Dwayne Johnsonand near-universal critical notices is a surefire recipe for success...
Did anyone want a third Robert Langdon thriller? While The Da Vinci Code was a gigantic hit back in 2006, Angels and Demons made significantly less on both the domestic and international charts. And now, Inferno looks to answer that question with a painful whimper. No, nobody wanted a third Robert Langdon movie, and the film’s opening weekend makes that abundantly clear.
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