This weekend, Hollywood sequels showered down on the multiplexes and pumped in over $132M worth of new business into a marketplace that needed a boost. The Caped Crusader and pals led the way as the animated comedy The LEGO Batman Movie debuted at number one with an estimated $55.6M. Warner Bros. generated a solid $13,609 average from 4,088 locations – the most theaters ever for a February release.
Though big, it was still a 19% drop from the $69.1M launch of The LEGO Movie from three years ago this same weekend. That hit featured the Dark Knight in a supporting role. The new PG-rated toon earned good reviews from critics and a nice A- grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore. With next weekend being the long Presidents Day holiday frame, and most schools closing for winter beaks throughout the month, there is plenty more for LEGO Batman especially since there are no other major offerings for kids across the next four weekends.
LEGO Batman scored the seventh largest opening weekend ever in February just ahead of the $55.4M of The SpongeBob Movie from two years ago on this same place on the calendar before finishing with $163M. The new Bruce Wayne toon tale may certainly end up in the same vicinity, or maybe higher. Overseas, LEGO Batman grossed an estimated $37M from 60 markets this weekend with China, Australia, and Japan still to come.
Universal opened its franchise romance Fifty Shades Darker in second place with a domestic performance that fell sharply from its predecessor while international results remained sturdy. The domestic launch saw an estimated $46.8M from 3,710 locations for a $12,614 average representing a sharp 45% fall from the $85.2M debut of 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey on this same weekend. Grey benefitted from the initial excitement of the wildly popular book being turned into a movie franchise and also enjoyed Valentine’s Day on its first Saturday plus Presidents Day weekend helping Sunday perform better than usual. But also some erosion of brand interest impacted the turnout as well.
Reviews for Darker were terrible and even worse than those for Grey which still went on to mint $570M worldwide. However, fans were generally pleased with the sequel which received a B+ CinemaScore grade which was a good improvement over the C+ that its predecessor earned. Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year and that day is expected to see a big spike in grosses for Darker. Audience demos showed a crowd that was 70% female, 56% under 30, and 54% white. The studio will close out the franchise with Fifty Shades Freed opening on this very weekend next year.
While in North America LEGO Batman claimed number one, the global box office was ruled by Fifty Shades Darker this weekend. Overseas grosses amounted to a stellar $100.1M from 57 markets for a worldwide launch of $146.9M which was well ahead of Batman‘s $92.6M. Universal reports top spot debuts in 51 of the territories. Leading the way for the erotic thriller was Germany with $11M, the U.K with $9.7M, and France at $8.7M. Clearly the brand is retaining more if its interest around the world. Darker is too racy to be allowed into China so its only major market still to come is Japan in June.
Keanu Reeves was back, again, with a rock solid debut for his latest action thriller John Wick: Chapter Two which took in an estimated $30M this weekend more than doubling the debut of its 2014 predecessor. Lionsgate averaged a stellar $9,645 from 3,113 locations for the non-stop R-rated actioner and Reeves witnessed his best opening in over eight years.
Unlike many sequels that Hollywood finances, John Wick: Chapter Two was fueled by genuine excitement from fans who wanted to see a popular character continue his adventures. The first pic debuted to a decent $14.4M in October 2014 on its way to a $43M final but also built up a sizable following from great word-of-mouth. The brutal Chapter Two was well-liked by critics and audiences alike and should see a solid sophomore frame over Presidents Day weekend.
Three-time number one hit Split got shoved back to fourth place this weekend but the Universal thriller still held up well despite all the heavy competition. The M. Night Shyamalan pic dropped 35% to an estimated $9.3M boosting the domestic cume up to a sturdy $112.3M with the worldwide tally now at $169.4M. That’s an eye-popping 17 times more than its production cost.
Fifth place went to this year’s highest-grossing Best Picture Oscar nominee, Hidden Figures, with an estimated $8M, off only 22%, for a new total of $131.5M for Fox. Universal’s A Dog’s Purpose fared well too falling just 30% to an estimated $7.4M for $42.6M to date.
Tumbling 55% to an estimated $5.8M was the horror sequel Rings which has banked $21.5M for Paramount to date. Oscar front-runner La La Land followed with an estimated $5M, down 32%, for a new cume of $126M for Lionsgate. The global haul stands at $294.3M and will crack the triple century mark later this week.
The only wide release to see its gross increase this weekend was fellow Best Picture contender Lion which did not even add screens. The Weinstein Co. release grossed an estimated $4.1M, up 9%, for a new total of $30.4M. Rounding out the top ten was the flop The Space Between Us which fell 53% in its second weekend to an estimated $1.8M putting STX at a measly $6.6M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $173.8M which was down 20% from last year when Deadpool opened at number one with a record $132.4M; and down 11% from 2015 when Fifty Shades of Grey opened in the top spot with $85.2M. Both of those years were the Presidents Day holiday frame.