The weekend box office was extremely light overall, but M. Night Shyamalan’s surprise smash ‘Split’ continues to dominate, fending off upstart horror sequel ‘Rings’.  Paramount didn’t have much faith in ‘Rings’ having previously bumped the title’s release around from November 13, 2015, to April 1, 2016, to October 28th before finally settling on Super Bowl Weekend… where it landed with a thud.  Lacking a major director (F. Javier Gutiérrez, who only has one other film credit to his name) or major stars (TV actors Johnny Galecki and Vincent D’Onofrio are the biggest names attached), plus a muddled marketing campaign (Is this a sequel? A remake? A reboot?) led to indifference from the usual horror audience, who were still flocking to’Split’.

SplitThis marks the first Shyamalan film to hang on to the #1 spot for three consecutive weeks since ‘The Sixth Sense’

It doesn’t help that ‘Rings’ has gotten lousy reactions from both critics (an astoundingly bad 6% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (a C- Cinema Score), contrasting with ‘Split”s awesome 75% score on Rotten Tomatoes and B+ Cinema Score.

Meanwhile, ‘The Space Between Us’ crashed down to Earth hard, taking in a paltry $3.8 and only barely landing in the Top Ten at #9.

‘Rings’ and ‘The Space Between Us’ were intended as counter-programming to the Super Bowl, both aimed at teenage girls, but neither connected to their target audience.

Some felt that younger audiences weren’t familiar enough with ‘The Ring’ brand (the first movie came out in 2002).  Similarly, ‘The Space Between Us’ doesn’t benefit from being adapted from an existing novel.  It also lacked a bankable star as lead Asa Butterfield (who was reportedly under consideration to play Peter Parker in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’— a role that eventually went to Tom Holland) continues to struggle to find the right vehicle, having already headlined YA sci fi underperformer ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ and outright flop ‘Ender’s Game’.

The Space Between Us posterLike ‘Rings’, ‘The Space Between Us’ also had its release date altered. Just weeks before its planned December 21, 2016, it was pushed back to avoid the heavy holiday film release schedule.

Also like ‘Rings’, ‘The Space’ is a dud with critics, garnering a weak 17% Rotten Tomatoes score but it did earn a nice A- Cinema Score.  Unfortunately, it did so poorly at the box office that that translates to “Basically no one saw this, but the few that did liked it.”  At best, that could result in the movie finding its audience on home video, but for now, with its $30M budget, ‘The Space’ is firmly in the flaming red.

It should also be pointed out that counter-programming may not be the only approach studios have to the Super Bowl.  After all, that’s just one day, Sunday.  In the past, testosterone-heavy flicks like ‘American Sniper’ and ‘Taken’ have done extremely well in the days leading up to the big game.

There wasn’t much movement beyond ‘Rings” entry into the Top Five, but here are the numbers:

  1. Split (Universal/Blumhouse) – $14.6M
  2. Rings (Paramount) – $13M
  3. A Dog’s Purpose (Universal/Amblin/Walden) – $10.8M
  4. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) – $10.1M
  5. La La Land (Lionsgate) – $7.45M

The Academy Awards continue to push certain films at the box office, with ‘Hidden Figures’ continuing to soar at #4, while ‘La La Land’ hangs in at #5.  While not playing in enough theaters to chart in the Top Ten, nominated feature-length documentary ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ had the highest per screen average of the weekend.

Next week should see a pretty significant shake-up at the box office.  ‘Split’ will likely drop from the #1 spot as disparate new entries, family flick ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’, mommy porn ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ and shoot ’em up ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ all arrive.  (‘John Wick’ should benefit from the fact that the first movie has been airing on TV approximately 24 hours a day for the last month.)

Source: Deadline