The top five
Super Bowl weekend is traditionally a slow one at the box office, with studios loathe to place major new releases there for fear of sharp drops on Sunday when everyone is busy looking at the game, not sitting around in a theater. This aversion to football’s biggest weekend meant that Universal’s M. Night Shyamalan thriller Glass stayed on top of the box office once again with $9.5M. While this title’s run so far is still tracking a bit behind that of its predecessor Split domestically, it’s hard to call it any sort of disappointment thanks to the film’s dirt-low $20M reported production budget.
In second place, STX’s The Upside grossed $8.7M, easing down just 26% from last weekend. Really, this film has been the biggest box office success story of this year so far. Rescued from the mess of the Weinstein Company bankruptcy and already left to sit on the shelf for quite a long time, plus with poor critical reviews, this seemed like a clear stinker. However, respect where respect is due to STX for giving this film a second chance when they picked it up from TWC successor Lantern Capital in a distribution deal.
In third was the weekend’s sole new wide release, the Gina Rodriguez-starring action remake Miss Bala from Sony Pictures. Despite the very low $15M budget, $6.9M is just not very good opening for this film. With legs likely to be weak thanks to the movie’s poor reception, plus unsure international prospects, Miss Bala goes to show that just keeping a movie affordable isn’t enough to make it a hit. Audiences need to feel the need to go out to the theater and watch your movie, and that just wasn’t the case looking at the anemic opening. Marketing never really got across what made this action title really special, and despite a long-running role as the star of CW show Jane the Virgin, Rodriguez might not yet have the pull necessary to lead a film like this to success.
The best comparison to Miss Bala is likely Proud Mary, another action movie misfire from Sony last year. Both titles attempted to give a new twist on the action genre (by having their stars be Rodriguez and Taraji P. Henson respectively), but despite their reasonable costs ($15M and $14M), couldn’t get past poor critical reception (25% on Rotten Tomatoes, 27%), and a feeling among audiences that despite the quality of the lead actors, that there just wasn’t anything interesting either film brought to the table.
Rounding out the top five were superhero December holdovers Aquaman ($4.9M, down 33% from last week) and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($4.5M, down 26%).
National Geographic rock climbing doc Free Solo came back into IMAX theaters this weekend for a one-week run, boosting its gross 448% from last week to $1.2M. Considering the weakness of the market overall, this was a pretty smart play on National Geographic and IMAX’s part to get something special out to PLF screens that would otherwise likely just be showing half-empty screenings of Glass.
Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old opened to $2.4M in 735 theaters this weekend. After multiple prior one-day Fathom events for the film as well before its standard launch this past weekend, its domestic cume is $10.8M.