Split Divides Openers for Third Consecutive Weekend Win
By John Hamann
February 5, 2017
What a sorry sack of openers we have for Super Bowl weekend. At least we already know that the game will be better than the crop of films pushed out by Hollywood this weekend.
The openers unleashed this weekend should be big hitters and should be providing big things at the box office. We’ve got a horror threequel in Rings, the follow-up to two successful horror flicks with Naomi Watts that combined for a massive global gross of $400 million against a combined $100 million budget. Also opening is The Space Between Us, a teen romance where one of the leads was born on Mars. There's also a new film you probably have never heard of: The Comedian, which features a cast that includes DeNiro, Danny Devito, Charles Grodin, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Keitel. This one feels like an Oscar contender given the stars and director Taylor Hackford’s involvement. The helmer was responsible for An Officer and a Gentlemen and Ray, but The Comedian nonetheless turned into a car accident for Sony Pictures Classics.
Our number one film of the weekend is not an opener. It’s not an Oscar nominee. It’s Split, M Night Shyamalan’s horror thriller that stays on top for a third consecutive weekend. In weekend three, Split continued to work, pulling in a still impressive $14 million and dropping 43%. In the previous frame, Split earned $25.6 million and fell 36% from its $40 million opening weekend. Of course, the challenge Split had to overcome this weekend was the Super Bowl. A year ago, over the biggest football weekend of the year, The Revenant was in its fifth wide weekend, and saw its second biggest drop (46%) in its first 14 weekends of release. The year before, American Sniper saw the biggest drop of its run (53%) on Super Bowl weekend.
For Split, the 43% decline should be considered excellent for a couple of reasons. The first one is obvious - the Super Bowl. The game will gobble up eyeballs all over North America. Second, Split had already earned $84 million prior to the weekend, which is more than a film like 10 Cloverfield Lane earned over its entire run ($72 million). The figure heading into the weekend was producer Jason Blum’s biggest since Paranormal Activity 3 in October 2011, and Split will soon overcome the entire domestic gross of the original Paranormal Activity ($107.9 million), which came out in 2009.
The domestic total has now reached $98.7 million, and word-of-mouth is hot, so Split could see another $30-40 million before all is said and done. Split will take down The Last Airbender’s $131.8 million gross to become M Night Shyamalan’s biggest hit since Signs earned $228 million domestically in 2002. Split has now earned $44 million overseas, and it will finish as a huge hit for all involved. The horror thriller cost only $9 million to make, so this will be a huge earner for Universal and Blumhouse productions.
Second goes to the only opener to earn more than $5 million at the weekend box office. The winner of that booby prize is Rings, but it is an utter failure regardless. After The Ring Two opened to $35 million in 2005, Paramount must have thought they had a no-brainer with the three-quel, but the ball was dropped, and now the studio may have an expensive mess on their hands. On Friday, the sequel earned $5.6 million, as it enjoyed its only day at number one, likely throughout its run. It peaked on opening day and faded over the remainder of the frame. Over the weekend, the PG-13 horror flick (scoff) took in $13 million, missing the sequel’s opening gross by more than $20 million. The good news is that the third film cost much less than the second to make, with Rings having a pre-marketing budget of $25 million, whereas the second film came in with a budget of $50 million.