It’s rare to see real juice in Hollywood outside of the expected comic book fare, or other family franchise hits. Lionsgate, which has struggled to this point in 2019 needed a hit, and they relied upon a now high caliber franchise to rejuvenate its year.
A spate of new releases wanted to contend with the monolithic holdovers, with only one title managing to hit the target audience while the rest mostly were shooting blanks. Summer having been officially declared by the studios means we will be seeing weekly event pictures expecting to have a major impact on the box office. Let’s look downrange and see what film made a headshot this weekend.
1. JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARABELLUM – $57.02 Million
When it comes to franchises this one has to be considered something of an anomaly. The original film was a moderate hit, but it managed to find a core cult audience. It performed well enough in theaters but it was the home market where the title really took off. In a severely waning DVD economy the film was a rarity in that it generated healthy sales, and the streaming numbers as well were the kind of things a studio will notice. While the final box office of the original was modest (its total run was lower than this debut) that secondary market made a sequel inevitable.
“Chapter 2” more than doubled the haul from the first, and this third version is an even bigger hit. More than that, the reviews for this second sequel are stronger, and the audience scores for all three films have been a uniform “A-”, which rarely happens within a franchise universe. That is even sweeter news for Lionsgate, as the storyline meant they have essentially are required to now make the fourth iteration.
2. AVENGERS: ENDGAME – $29.41m
The staying power is well in effect. With this weekend the Marvel group picture has passed “Avatar” to become the second biggest domestic release all time. The chance of reaching the North American record of “The Force Awakens” ($936 million) seems too far off. The other major benchmark is the all-time global total, where it trails “Avatar” in that category by more than $100 million, but there is still a lot of gas in the tank and that could become a reality in the coming weeks.
3. DETECTIVE PIKACHU – $24.81m
Last week’s champ dropped behind Marvel, but this is still a solid hold for the film that overperformed last week. Just over a -54% dip is a good sign and shows the live-action Pokemon experiment could be profitable in the end. The $200 million global total is about halfway where Warner Brothers needs to get this one.
4. A DOG’S JOURNEY – $8.0m
Probably suffering in part to a recent glut of canine-based titles this is playing softer while still garnering some very scores from audiences. Exit scores came in with a very good “A” grade, but the issue was getting people into the theater in the first place. This Universal release is the third dog film by director W. Bruce Cameron, who just had “A Dog’s Way Home” for Sony in January.
5. THE HUSTLE – $6.08m
While a -53% is not horrible last week’s debut for this one was not great to begin with so it is a muted positive metric. The release last weekend was meant to maximize Mother’s Day for the female crowd. Without much other interests for this remake it is languishing.
6. THE INTRUDER – $4.02m
There has not been a stampede of audiences to see Dennis Quaid as a psychotic villain, but the good news for Screen Gems is this cost so little to make that a profit is almost inevitable.
7. LONG SHOT – $3.4m
Getting rid of over 1,100 screens after 3 weeks is a sign that the demand was not there, and they needed those seats available for Keanu’s killer. I guess Seth Rogen seducing Charlize Theron was not considered believable for enough ticket buyers.
8. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR – $2.6m
Based on the young adult novel by Nicola Yoon there was just nothing to draw a crowd. Even the younger audiences stayed away and there is a structured deal between MGM and Warner Brothers where they split the expenses and advertising, with production company Orion getting a larger piece on the secondary market after a $10 million domestic gross. That looks highly unlikely, especially given that historically this comes in as the 30th-lowest grossing film released in 2,000+ theaters.
9. POMS – $2.09m
Coming off a monumentally poor debut last week — it was almost in the bottom-50 of worst opens for a saturated release (2,500 screens or greater) and has only looked downward. This total is a drop of -61%, and it has only barely made it to the $10 million level.
10. UGLY DOLLS – $1.6m
Sticking with the bad release metrics, this one managed to land as #46 on the worst saturated openings three weeks ago. As a result it was another film to surrender a ton of screens – losing 1,600 this weekend. To date it has managed only $17 million, far less than its $45 million budget, to say nothing of the additional millions of advertising.