Everything was awesome this weekend at the box office as three newcomers took the top three slots, shaking things up after a rather stagnant few weeks. And what a wild assortment of champs. The #1 movie of the weekend was Warner Brothers’ ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’, while #2 went to Universal’s erotic thriller ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ and #3 to testosterone-driven shoot ’em up ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ from Lionsgate. These three couldn’t be more different but maybe that’s what Hollywood needed to mix things up. Former top dogs ‘Split’ and‘Hidden Figures’ hung in, rounding out the Top Five.
Starting at the top, 2014’s ‘The LEGO Movie’ exceeded expectation, quickly gaining audiences outside of the usual families, with its smart, wry humor that drew in older fans. (The catchy theme song didn’t hurt.) This follow-up spins off Will Arnett’s cocky Batman with a bevvy of comedic all-stars joining the fun, including Michael Cera as Robin, Zack Galifianakis as The Joker, ‘SNL”s Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn, Conan O’Brien as The Riddler and Doug Benson as Bane, along with Rosario Dawson as Batgirl, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred and incredible singer/terrible lipsyncher Mariah Carey as Mayor McCaskill.
The snowstorm that struck the northeast didn’t seem to hamper turnout. In fact, ‘LEGO Batman’ seems to have benefited as schools were closed in parts of the area, but while the kids couldn’t go to schools, they hit the theaters. The film is scoring with both audiences and critics with an A- CinemaScore and a 91% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. That being said, this film is skewing slightly younger than the first, with the largest demographic being young boys at 65%.
For the moms who pawned off their kids to their dads or sitters, there was ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ based on the E.L. James novel series which scored $35M. This debut is considerably weaker than the first movie’s $81.5M opening, but it has scored a much better B+ CinemaScore versus the C+ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ garnered. That could lead to longer legs as weeks go by.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Lionsgate’s ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ opened to $30M which is more than double the $14.4M bow for the first ‘John Wick’ in 2014. It even got a better CinemaScore with A- versus the first’s B.
The first ‘John Wick’ was truly a movie that found its audience on home video, as it took in $43M at the box office but a whopping $53M on home video. The studio has further fueled interest by airing the first movie on FX repeatedly in the month leading up to the sequel’s release.
At any rate, though it’s still early, this could be great news for Keanu Reeves, who was once a box office champ, but who has seen his star dim significantly partially thanks to the lackluster ‘Matrix’ sequels and various low-budget flops. It is expected that ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ will actually have longer legs in the long run than ‘Fifty Shades Darker’, as that is perceived as a movie that will most likely be front-loaded with the die-hard fans turning out early and not much expansion beyond that. On the other hand, a straight-up action flick could draw in larger audiences over time.
Both of these runner-ups should turn a tidy profit as they cost very little to make– $55M for ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ and $40M+ for ‘John Wick’.
Here is the Top Five:
- The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Brothers) – $55.6M
- Fifty Shades Darker (Universal) – $46.8M
- John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate) – $30M
- Split (Universal/Blumhouse) – $9.3M
- Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) – $8M
Check back to see if this week’s winners can stand up to the newcomers.