M Night’s Split Surprises, Diesel’s xXx Falters
By John Hamann
January 22, 2017
Reviews were right where they had to be - good enough. At Rotten Tomatoes, Split was 76% fresh, as the thriller had 104 good reviews out of a possible 136. Top critics liked it a bit less at 68%. At the Cinemascore desk, Split came in with a B+ score, which is an awesome score for a horror film from Shyamalan. His last film, The Visitor, rang up a B- score, which shows how hard it is for this genre to success with this type of polling. Lastly, for distributor Universal, this is their second consecutive hit via their partnership with Shyamalan, after The Visit started the relationship with the studio.
Finishing second is xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, that carries the return of Vin Diesel to the franchise, after having growled through the first movie in 2002. The original earned $142 million stateside and another $135 million overseas, all against a budget of $70 million. The second xXx film came out in 2005, and it flopped badly, leaving us never expecting see one of these again. How bad? With Vin Diesel out and Ice Cube in, the domestic tally hit only $27 million, and the film earned only $44 million overseas. It cost a slightly better $60 million but was still a complete failure. So, Sony decided to bring Diesel back to the lead role, hoping audiences would follow.
The experiment failed, but not badly. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage earned a combined $7.2 million on opening day from Thursday previews and Friday grosses. Over the remainder of the weekend, the Sony release managed a weekend tally of $20 million, just a little short of the mid-20s opening frame that tracking was looking for. Reviews weren’t great, which likely kneecapped the opening. It was 42% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing, and top critics were not nearly as kind, delivering a 25% rating. At least the Cinemascore wasn’t bad, coming in at A-, the same as the first xXx, and slightly better than xXx: State of the Union, which earned a B+. This experiment is likely going to cost Sony – the film cost $85 million to produce – and the marketing would have been huge, given the proliferation of ads, posters and trailers. For Vin Diesel, this has to be a disappointment. Outside of the Fast and Furious flicks and The Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Diesel has had zero luck launching anything new – The Last Witch Hunter, Riddick and xXx were all expected to be franchise starters.
Hidden Figures moves down to third after spending two weekends on top. After earning a holiday inflated $20.9 million in the last frame, Hidden Figures was bound to drop in its third frame of wide release. It did, but to a lower degree than most expected. Over the weekend, Hidden Figures continued to excel, earning $16.3 million and dropping a fantastic 22% - especially considering that the previous weekend had two Saturdays. The tally for the NASA flick has risen to a powerful $84.2 million, with $100 million a no-brainer at this point. Overseas grosses will begin to roll in this weekend. Remember, Hidden Figures cost only $25 million to make, so it is a dream for Fox.