Weekend Wrap-Up
Split Turns Into A Breakout Hit, Weinstein’s Gold flops
By John Hamann
January 29, 2017

Split indeed!

I guess it is either really hot or really cold for M Night Shyamalan’s career. He’s had four hits followed by four big misses, followed by two hits. I think we have a trend.

It’s a downright crazy weekend at the box office (again), as openers include the sixth Resident Evil film, interestingly called “The Final Chapter” (yeah, my ass), A Dog’s Purpose, the grounded-in-controversy film about a dog that seems to reincarnate itself, and Gold, the latest from Mathew McConaughey, and distributed by The Weinstein Company. TWC hasn’t had a $100 million hit since Lee Daniels' The Butler, a great film that earned $116.6 million domestic and $176.6 million worldwide, all against a budget of $40 million. Since then, The Imitation Game made some money, Paddington probably made them a few bucks, but with so many players, not much would have made it to TWC. This weekend, Gold is TWC’s latest victim, but their last great hope – Lion, the film that received six Oscar nominations – might break the TWC trend.

And yes, it's also the post-Oscar nominee weekend, as we see how La La Land performs after picking up 14 nominations and Hidden Figures picks up three. Not including Split, which expanded by 161 venues, eight films expanded their theater counts by 269 screens or more, with La La Land expanding the furthest, from 1,865 last weekend to an ultra-wide 3,136 venues this weekend. Would the move pay off for the Lionsgate flick, or was the $94.5 million earned prior to the weekend the upper end of what La La Land could possibly earn?

Our number one film is not A Dog’s Purpose or La La Land. Instead we have a repeat winner in the form of Split, the first time an M. Night Shyamalan film has repeated at number one since Signs did in weekends four and five of its run in 2002. Signs went on to earn $228 million domestic and $409 million worldwide at a time when global box office wasn’t really a thing. Split took in $7.9 million on Friday night, and dropped an amazing-for-horror Friday-to-Friday drop of only 46%. Remember that Split earned $2 million over its Thursday preview, Universal has to be ecstatic that Split fell only 46% compared to a normal horror decline of 55-60%.

Over the rest of the weekend, Split continued to shine, earning a monster $26.3 million over its second frame, and turning the Shyamalan/Jason Blum production into a mega hit. The domestic gross has already hit $78 million after only 10 days of release, and the hold tells us that word-of-mouth must be sizzling out there for this horror/thriller hybrid. Split has already earned more than The Visit, the first film to break the streak of Night losers. That one earned $65.2 million over its entire run and only cost about $5 million less than Split, with The Visit coming in at $5 million before marketing, while Split cost $9 million prior to ad costs. I would estimate that Split at least doubled the advertising spend compared to The Village, but I also think it will out-earn it to the power of three.

Given all the negative media attention for A Dog’s Purpose, I thought this one had the potential to finish further down the chart behind La La Land and Hidden Figures, but moviegoers were either not impacted by the almost drowning of an animal or didn’t care. On Friday night, A Dog’s Purpose finished well back of Split, earning $5.3 million, but considering the controversy, Universal will be whistling dixie when they look at the opening day number. I have to assume that the controversy probably caused some dog lovers to drop out, but on the other hand, the awareness created by the leaked video may have also helped to promote the film to some who may not have been interested.

The result leaves Universal with the top two films of the weekend, something I expect the studio was anticipating regardless, but likely with Split finishing second and A Dog’s Purpose on top. That was not to be. A Don’s Purpose earned $18.4 million from a very wide 3,059 venues, and while it finishes in the lower area of the range Universal was looking for, it still finishes within that original range. This film could have easily slipped away into nothingness, leaving the movie to fend for itself overseas. A Dog's Purpose cost a relatively small $22 million to make, and with this opening, Universal dodges what could have been a small bomb.

Hidden Figures, the current hot historical film about black women working at NASA, ended up in third place. Hidden Figures earned only three Oscar nominations, but it has been on a roll over its first two wide release weekends at the box office. This weekend, Hidden Figures took in another $14 million, dropping 11% compared to last weekend. The Friday score of $3.8% was down only 14% from the previous weekend, and set the table for the rest of the frame. The total now for Figures has rolled up to a massive $104 million, and the $25 million film is just getting started overseas.

The supposed Final Chapter of the Resident Evil series launched this weekend, and set a new low for a domestic launch for this franchise. At its Thursday preview, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter picked up only $1 million. That was a little more than the last film in the series, Retribution, but we are talking pocket change in the movie business. After that, The Final Chapter fell apart, earning a combined $5.1 million on Friday night, significantly down from Retribution’s $8.4 million, as people know to wait until Netflix for this type of thing, which is probably pretty enjoyable at home on a Sunday afternoon.

Over the weekend, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter drew $13.9 million for Screen Gems, leaving it behind the former lowest opener, as the original earned $17.7 million when the series debuted in 2002. Its B Cinemascore ties it for top spot amongst all the RE films, as it matched the score of the first two films in the series. The Final Chapter cost $40 million to make, and even the usually very creative Screen Gems laid an egg with this one. The good news is that overseas, The Final Chapter has already $65 million. The last film, Retribution, earned almost $200 million total overseas, so as odd as it may seem, there may be more to this series should it do well overseas again.

La La Land, with its record-setting 14 Academy Award nominations and its big expansion to 3,136 venues this weekend, grew from Friday-to-Friday by a ridiculous 42%, setting the table for a big, big weekend. The musical already had $94.5 million heading into the weekend, and it pulled past the $100 million mark with a three-day total of $12.1 million, an incredible increase of 43%. That puts the probable Oscar winner at $106.5 million, and that total joins the $117 million already earned overseas. With a cost of $30 million, the Ryan Gosling Emma Stone film is going to be hugely profitable for the studio, especially if it wins Best Picture (which it very likely will).

Sixth is xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, which stumbled last weekend, opening to only $20.1 million. This frame, Xander Cage fell on its face, earning only $8.3 million and declining a nasty 59%. The total now for the Vin Diesel release has hit $33.5 million, while the overseas total is better at about $55 million. That puts the worldwide earnings over the budget amount, but Diesel has a long way to go box office-wise if he’s going to get another film out of this franchise.

Sing is seventh. The Illumination Entertainment product and the third film distributed by Universal in top seven continues its run this weekend, enjoying its sixth weekend in the top ten. The animated release pulled in another $6.2 million and fell 31%, but brought its total up to $257.4 million on the domestic side,

Rogue One is eighth, and is now in weekend seven. This weekend, the epic film took in another $5.1 million, bringing the domestic total up to $520 million. It was off 29%, as Rogue One begins to wind down. The domestic tally like won’t move up the biggest films of all time list, where it sits in seventh. The global ranking did change, as Rogue One now has earned $1.03 billion and passed such films as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Zootopia, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Finding Dory, and Jurassic Park for 21st place all-time.

Ninth is the Paramount failure Monster Trucks, which cost $125 million to make. This weekend, Monster Trucks earned another $4.1 million and fell a large 42% compared to last weekend. The domestic total has hit $28.1 million, and the overseas tally has just crossed the $19 million mark.

Tenth goes to the latest flop from The Weinstein Company, Gold, which managed to earn only $3.5 million despite being out to 2,166 venues. That easily puts it in top 100 worst openings of all time, joining films like Gigli, which opened to $3.75 million. This one was made for awards potential and failed, with a Rotten score of 38% based on 37 reviews. It’s the third consecutive flop for Mathew McConaughey, whose stock has tumbled after The Free State of Jones, The Sea of Trees, and now Gold. No budget is listed, but the film must have been expensive given the locations and the cast, which also included Bryce Dallas Howard and Edgar Ramirez.

Finishing outside of the top ten are two Weinstein products, The Founder and Lion. The Founder, which didn’t score any Oscar nominations, earned $2.7 million and declined 21% compared to its $3.4 million opening. Lion tallied six Oscar nominations, but it earned only $2.4 million from 575 venues. Lion cost $12 million to make, and has a domestic gross of $19.8 million, but has picked up another $14 million overseas. The Founder now has a domestic gross of $7.5 million, and an overseas total that has also just crossed $5 million.

Overall this weekend, the top 12 films earned $117.2 million, A year ago, with Kung Fu Panda on top, the top 12 films at the box office took in $124.5 million. Next weekend, Paramount opens the schedule bumped Rings, while STX opens The Space Between Us, a teen romance/sci-fi flick