Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson and Liam Neeson walk into a bar – who is the murderer? Hercule Poirot will likely tell you its Liam and then tell you a story of how he got his mustache. These were the principals looking to draw in audiences this weekend and even with three new films and Jackass coming off a strong victory last weekend the top ten could not clear $50 million. Aside from 2021 of course, that marks the first time the month of February has seen a total that low since its first two weekends of 1996.
(Photo by Rob Youngson/©20th Century Studios)
Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile did get the #1 spot this week that it was hoping for, but after a reasonable $1.1 million in previews that normally would have seen it earn a $17 million-plus opening, the follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express managed just $12.8 million for the weekend. The lowest-grossing film to open with more than a million in previews in the past was the 2019 rom-com Isn’t It Romantic with Rebel Wilson. It grossed $14.8 million its first weekend and opened on Valentine’s Day.
In Branagh’s Agatha Christie Universe, Death on the Nile does qualify in the realm of the sequels we continue talking about finding a greater share of the box office from the newbies audiences are asked to take a chance on. Reviews for Nile (66%) are not much better than those of Express (60%) which finished third when it first opened with $28.6 million behind the second weekend of Thor: Ragnarok and the opening of Daddy’s Home 2. Despite staying in the top five just a mere two weeks, that film managed to get itself to $102 million, while Nile (barely beating Steven Seagal’s directorial 1994 debut On Deadly Ground’s $12.67 million) may have trouble clearing $40 million. That’s a number that 20th Century Studios has only cleared once during the pandemic (with Free Guy) and may not see again until Avatar 2’s opening weekend in December.
(Photo by ©Briarcliff Entertainment)
The best thing that can be said about Liam Neeson’s new conspiracy action flick Blacklight is that it’s not the worst opening for a film released in more than 2,500 theaters during the pandemic. The Protégé, Copshop, and the HBO MAX-streaming Those Who Wish Me Dead and Reminiscence all came up with less than the $3.6 million the release from Briarcliff did this weekend. The Marksman opened to $3.1 million in 1,975 theaters in Jan. 2021, and Honest Thief (from the same director and starring Neeson) started with $4.1 million in 2,475 theaters in Oct. 2020. If the numbers hold, though, Blacklight’s current 6% Tomatometer score could earn it the dubious distinction as the worst-reviewed wide release since last April, when the horror film Separation scored 7% with critics.
(Photo by Barry Wetcher/©Universal Pictures)
Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson didn’t do great with critics (58%), and their romantic comedy Marry Me is hoping to add to its $8 million haul this weekend with a little boost on Valentine’s Day on Monday. Universal not only debuted the film day-and-date on Peacock, but also advertised that “The Queen of Romantic Comedies Is Back!” A few actresses may have something to say about that, especially since Lopez hasn’t headlined a film that has grossed over $40 million since 2005’s Monster-in-Law. She may have been the big star in the $100 million grossing Hustlers, but that was still a supporting actress nomination she didn’t get. Do not look for Marry Me to hit either of those markers.
Jackass Forever performed at the higher end of expectations last week for those who felt it was frontloaded. This weekend it went the opposite way, falling 65% to $8 million. While you may think that is typical for the Jackass series, know the first two fell 44% and 49.6%, and while the third dropped 57.7%, it fell from a $50 million opening to $21.3 million. That put it roughly on pace with 2014’s About Last Night remake, which dropped like a stone and came up shy of $50 million. Jackass Forever is likely to level off better and maintain in the coming weeks, and it should at least get itself over that hump, but matching even the $64 million of the 2002 original is off the table.
(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing/©Marvel Entertainment)
On a week that Avatar 2 gets a shout-out, so shall its predecessor, with its $760 million in the bank. That’s because Spider-Man: No Way Home is about to pass it on the ninth weekend of its initial release. The $7.1 million it earned this weekend plus a few ticket sales in the next few days will make the Marvel film the third-highest-grossing domestic film of all time. That said, Peter Parker is still about a billion shy of the $2.8 billion the Na’vi now have in their global coffers, and that’s not a milestone he’s likely match.
Other films continuing to chug along include Universal’s Sing 2, which is lining up a final tally close to $150 million. Paramount’s Scream reboot is going to settle in the $75-80 million range, and UA’s Licorice Pizza has been one of the most consistent limited releases over time, grossing over $14 million to date.
Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall, however, is headed into very rare territory. After falling over 70% to only $2.8 million this weekend, the sci-fi disaster (film) now only has $15 million domestically to its name. Why is that significant? Because it reportedly cost $146 million to produce, and there are only a handful of titles with $100+ million budgets that have failed to gross even $20 million at the box office. They include Mortal Engines, Missing Link, last year’s Chaos Walking, and, infamously, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which was set — you guessed it — on the moon. It might be best to take up residence somewhere moviegoers want to go in the future.
(Photo by Clay Enos/©Sony Pictures)
Next weekend we will see whether or not the name recognition of a popular video game will be enough to bring its players into theaters. Will Uncharted be able to draw in non-gamers as Sony rides the Tom Holland train with a side of Mark Wahlberg? It’s either that or Channing Tatum starring in and co-directing Dog, about an Army ranger on a road trip with a military canine in order to make a fellow soldier’s funeral. The $120 million-budgeted game adaptation is likely to win the box office, but how much will it make?
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]