Just as Aquaman was poised to become the first film since Black Panther to rule the box office four weeks straight, a movie that has had to sit on the shelf for over a year comes along to say not so fast. Whether it was support for Kevin Hart over his most recent controversies or the feel-good possibilities of a rich paraplegic and his unqualified ex-con caretaker, it surely was not the reviews for The Upside which stands at 39% on the Tomatometer. Though STX Films likely does not care either which way as it becomes their first no. 1 opener ever with a $19.5 million haul this weekend.
STX’s strongest opener is still Bad Moms ($23.8 million), but a $19.5 million start for The Upside is a true victory for a studio which has not had a success since A Bad Mom’s Christmas back in 2017. And the news could be even better for them considering that they are only on the hook for the prints and advertising, which is reportedly less than $30 million. The $39 million production budget rests elsewhere as this film was originally repped by the Weinstein Co. when it premiered at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. A month later the Harvey scandal erupted and his company’s films were eventually shelved or sold off. Poor Paddington 2 was one of them and it failed to find half of the original’s audience last January. The $19.5 million of The Upside would have been the fifth biggest opening ever for the now defunct Company, just ahead of the original Paddington’s $18.9 million start.
Kevin Hart, on the other hand, has had some big openings so this number relatively pales in comparison. Just in January alone Hart has opened Ride Along ($41.5 million), Ride Along 2 ($35.2 million), and The Wedding Ringer ($20.6 million) to bigger numbers but his prevailing starpower is clearly a factor in The Upside’s success. Films in January opening between $19 and $21 million have finished anywhere between $42.6 and $70.6 million. The 4-day holiday next weekend can only help if word-of-mouth holds and it stays in second behind the launch of Glass. Only three of the 10 films in that range managed to gross three times their opening weekend. But one of those three was The Wedding Ringer.
The Upside was not the only film delayed until this weekend. Replicas was pulled from the 2018 schedule and dumped into theaters now with no press screenings to boot. The 13% on the Tomatometer can clue you into why. The $2.5 million it made is the lowest amount ever for any Keanu Reeves headliner to open on more than 2,000 screens. The previous low was Johnny Mnemonic opening to $6 million in 2,030 theaters back in 1995; that was his first film since the success of Speed the previous summer. The $30 million-budgeted film was bought by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios for $4 million back in 2017 and will continue a streak of financial losers for them.
Aquaman may have missed the opportunity of four straight weeks at no. 1, but it will surely trade that as it became just the 37th film ever to reach the billion dollar milestone this weekend. That is the second billion dollar film under James Wan’s watch and he has done it with two separate franchises. (Furious 7 grossed $1.51 billion worldwide.) It should reach the $300 million mark in the U.S. by the end of next weekend’s holiday.
Kids may be back in school but that doesn’t account for the huge drop that Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns took this weekend. From $15.8 million (third place last week) to $7.2 million (eighth place this week) that’s a 54% drop (the biggest in the top 10) putting it virtually out of the running to achieve what some of us perceived to be an inevitability. With $150.6 million in its 26th day that puts it smack dab between Wreck-It Ralph and Coco for Disney features – or $189-$209 million as a final gross. However, no December release with less than $172 million in the same timeframe ever reached the $200 million mark. The film still needs roughly another $102 million to turn a profit.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse should be into profit by now and is actually en route to swinging over Mary Poppins’ domestic total. It may be in the same boat as far as not reaching $200 million, but it should take delight in the $180 million range where its headed. Bumblebee remains poised to become the lowest-grossing, best-reviewed Transformers film to date, though Viacom has said the movie is already ‘solidly profitable‘. Its total stands at $364 million worldwide. Clint Eastwood’s The Mule should now certainly reach the $100 million mark (the sixth of his directorial career) but is still going to need around $40 million internationally to turn a profit.
Sony’s A Dog’s Way Home‘s $11.3 million is really neither here nor there. Not as much as Max ($12.1 million) but a bit better than Because of Winn-Dixie ($10.2 million). Snow Dogs and Hotel for Dogs both had better January starts with $17.8 million and $17 million, respectively. Last week’s top (new) dog, Escape Room, is up to a respectable $32.4 million. Annapurna’s awards hopeful, Vice, is up to $35.9 million, while Focus’ less-awards-hopeful, On the Basis of Sex added 1,811 theaters to its run this weekend and grossed $6.2 million. Its total stands at $10.5 million. Also expanding was Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, which added 683 theaters (for 1,018 total) and grossed $2.38 million. Moonlight did not cross 1,000 theaters until the weekend after the Oscar nominations. It expanded to 650 theaters on its fifth weekend and grossed $1.48 million for a total of $6.6 million. Beale Street has made $7.68 million after its fifth weekend. Moonlight grossed a total of $27.8 million.
Jumnaji: Welcome to the Jungle led the way for a second week in a row with $28.1 million, and the wide release of Steven Spielberg’s The Post beat all the newcomers with a $19.3 million weekend. Amongst films in their first three days anywhere, Liam Neeson in The Commuter fared best with $13.7 million. Critical darling Paddington 2 (still a perfect 100% with 216 posted reviews) made $11 million, and Taraji P. Henson in Proud Mary grossed $9.9 million. The top 10 films grossed $129.3 million and averaged 64.3% on the Tomatometer. This year’s top 10 grossed an estimated $95 million and averaged 68.1%
Universal is poised to have one of the biggest January openings of all-time. Likely second if you count American Sniper’s wide release back in 2015. M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, the third film in his surprise Unbreakable trilogy, is the only major release next week and those who made Split a big hit in 2017 are likely to come out in droves. For at least its opening weekend. The studio lifted the embargo for reviews of the film this past Wednesday and the response from critics (currently 37% on the Tomatometer) may be reflected in audience disappointment and see the grosses trail off. On the other han,d with very little to challenge it in the two weeks after (The Kid Who Would Be King, Serenity, Miss Bala) it could actually hold onto a no. 1 slot until The Lego Movie 2 opens on Feb. 8.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]