Despite overall favorable reviews, ‘The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part’ opened well under the $50-$55 million it was expected to make on its opening weekend. Earning just $34.4M, it came in at 50% less than the first ‘LEGO Movie’ and even 35% less than ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’. And that second flick is part of the problem.
The first ‘LEGO Movie’ was an unexpected break-out hit in 2014, that drew audiences beyond the typical family demographic with its sly pop-culture skewing sense of humor. But rather than cranking out a sequel right away, Warner Brothers instead tried to parlay that success into an entire brand, with ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ in February 2017, and ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ in September of the same year. Neither crossed over in the same manner as ‘The LEGO Movie’, and ‘Ninjago’ was an outright failure, as it had zero appeal beyond kids and only limited appeal there.
At any rate, this glut of ‘LEGO’ movies has oversaturated the market, and ‘The LEGO Movie 2’ just arrived too late.
It’s a shame, because critics like it, with it ranking at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and so do audiences, who gave it an A- CinemaScore, with those under 18 giving it a solid A. Word of mouth could drum up more interest, but after such a soggy opening, it’s not likely. With a budget of $100M, it does look as though the film will end up in the black, especially after ancillaries are added in. At the very least, ‘The LEGO Movie 2’ still opened higher than ‘Ninjago’. Also, when preview screenings are added in, the total it has made so far inches up to $35M.
Adults looking for a laugh sought out ‘What Men Want’, a gender-swapped remake of the 2000 film ‘What Women Want’ which starred Mel Gibson. Taraji P. Henson headlined this comedy, directed by Adam Shankman (‘Rock of Ages’). This film took in $19M on a budget of $20M (plus P&A), so that was a pretty solid performance and a great rebound for Henson, whose last movie, shoot-’em-up ‘Proud Mary’ was a disaster last year, opening with a weak $9.9M. ‘What Men Want’ was #2. Critics don’t like it, with it ranking at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences gave it a CinemaScore of A and 4.5 stars via PostTrak.
Liam Neeson‘s ‘Cold Pursuit’ got a chilly reception, making $10.8M on a budget of $60M. A lot of the blame can be placed on Neeson’s recent racist comments which have caused an uproar online. Obviously, Neeson’s promotional appearances were canceled, so that didn’t help. But there is also the fact that moviegoers have seen Liam Neeson with a gun about a million times now and are simply tired of that schtick. Unfortunately, this movie is apparently more of a dark comedy and has been compared to ‘Fargo’, but it didn’t come across that way in ads; it looked like just another Neeson/revenge flick. Reviews were generally on the positive side, with it averaging 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even so, ‘Cold Pursuit’ landed at #3, and audiences gave it three stars on PostTrak.
- The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (Warner Brothers) – $34.4M
- What Men Want (Paramount) – $19M
- Cold Pursuit (Lionsgate) – $10.8M
- The Upside (STX) – $7.2M
- Glass (Universal) – $6.4M
New horror movie ‘The Prodigy’ came in at #6, with $6M, on a $6M budget (appropriate), so it has already broken even and it is projected that by the end of its run, it will have made about $10M.
Next week sees the release of ‘Alita: Battle Angel’, which is directed by Robert Rodriguez and boasts James Cameron as a writer and producer, but this is a real wild card. Critics that have seen it and like it, LOVE it, with some calling it the best live-action manga/anime adaptation ever. They are urging audiences to see it in 3D because it is a case where the extra cost is worth it. Others are not charmed and have dismissed it for the usual reasons– it’s too bloated, has too much CGI, it’s boring, etc. On Rotten Tomatoes, it ranks at 61%. This could go either way, but with its budget– reportedly in the $200+M range– it really needs to do great and many predict that it absolutely won’t.
In fact, many think that next weekend’s #1 movie will be the low-budget slasher sequel ‘Happy Death Day 2U’. In October 2017, the first ‘Happy Death Day’ took #1, earning $26.5M on a budget of $5M, and taking down big-budget dud ‘Blade Runner 2049’. The budget for the sequel is a little higher– $9M. But if it replicates the success of the first, ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ could still at least double its budget on opening weekend.
Two lighter movies are also opening and may benefit from Valentines Day on Thursday. There is the small family film, ‘Fighting with My Family’, which features Dwayne Johnson in a supporting role, plus ‘Isn’t It Romantic’, a spoof of romantic comedies, starring Rebel Wilson, Priyanka Chopra, Adam Devine, Tom Ellis, and Chris Hemsworth.
Place your bets! Will ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ slash down ‘Alita: Battle Angel’? Or will that cyborg action thriller deliver? Check back to see how things go.