Weekend Wrap-Up

by Tim Briody

February 24, 2019

The happiest saddest picture.

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With a lot more riding on this weekend than anyone would comfortably like to admit, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World allows everyone to exhale, at least for a weekend or two.

Maybe we were spoiled by 2018, but this has been a disappointing first two months of box office as what's been a gradual change in viewing habits in terms of movies over the last few years has suddenly had a noticable impact, with seemingly sure things not performing up to expectations.

This weekend another sequel arrives and would be the biggest bellwether yet as to if anything other than movies with the Marvel and/or Disney label on them would be big hits.

With $55.5 million, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is not only the biggest opener of 2019 so far, it comes in ahead of expectations, arguably only the second film to do that this year. It's also the best opening weekend yet for the franchise, which launched in March 2010 with $43.7 million on its way to $217.5 million. The sequel arrived in June 2014 and started with $49.4 million, but earned less domestically ($177 million) but saw a $100 million increase from the first movie overseas, so here we are again almost five years later.

Despite the length between films, audiences didn't forget about Hiccup and Toothless, and for that, Hollywood is thankful. The series has always been solidly reviewed, and The Hidden World was no exception (91% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) and being aimed at families, is largely immune to the Sunday slump due to the Academy Awards this evening.

While it's too early to look at final box office for The Hidden World just yet, it's also off to a hot start internationally as it's got $217 million already overseas. With the better opening, it should certainly do better than the $177 million the second one earned domestically, but the way this year has been, it's too soon to say for sure. Still, this was a much needed strong opening weekend for the box office.

Sliding to second is Alita: Battle Angel, down 58% from last weekend to $12 million and $60.6 million after two weekends. It's an expected drop for something that never had that big an audience to begin with, with it's weird live action mishmash of anime and cyberpunk. And for every person to whom this visual style was appealing, there was probably someone put off by it. The domestic figure isn't what's important here, though. It's been massively successful overseas already, earning $200 million, and may end up putting Alita in the black despite its reported $170 million budget.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is kneecapped by How to Train Your Dragon as it adds $10 million in its third weekend (down 52%) and has $83.6 million to date. The stat of the weekend? This is now a $100 million less than The LEGO Movie had after three weekends back in February of 2014. Even the LEGO Batman movie had $133.2 million after three weeks of release. The fall here is just stunning and contributing to the misery that is the early part of 2019's box office. It's still headed to $100 million, but it's the highest profile disappointment of the year so far, as a month ago this seemed like such a sure thing.

The weekend's other new wide release (expanding from a four theater preview where it did pretty well) lands in fourth place as Fighting With My Family earns $8 million. The story of WWE wrestler Paige's (not her real name) journey from England to debuting in WWE at the age of 21, it's an out of the box choice for a biopic but certainly a compelling story.


As BOP's resident WWE fan, I think this opening is fine. Wrestling fans have incessantly mocked the existence of the movie since it started on WWE programming last fall. That's because this is a movie about a wrestler that's not for wrestling fans. WWE viewers have seen Paige's entire career play out of TV (she actually retired due to injuries last year, but transitioned into a non-wrestling on screen character), so we don't need to see her backstory; most fans know that she basically grew up in a wrestling ring.

Fighting With My Family is for non-wrestling fans because it's an underdog, inspiring story. Critics agreed because it rated 91% Fresh at RottenTomatoes. And as a bonus, people get to see The Rock actually being The Rock in a movie. The inclusion of the "IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS" bit in the trailer was genius. Everyone loves The Rock! The excellent news here is Fighting With My Family only cost $11 million to produce, which it will have made by domestically by the time we reach next weekend. It's going down as a winner, and legs are a definite possibility.

Isn't It Romantic suffers a post-Valentine's Day drop, earning $7.5 million (down 47%) and has $33.7 million after two weekends. That's matching its production budget, so that's good, but the comedy is headed to a total of about $50 million. Rebel Wilson isn't quite a lead draw, but she does have The Hustle coming later this year, a gender flipped remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Anne Hathaway.

What Men Want adds $5.2 million this weekend, down 51% and has $45 million in three weekends. That's on a $20 million budget and it's headed to $65 million so Paramount is certainly super happy with how this one performed.

Happy Death Day 2U stumbles 47% in its second weekend, earning $4.9 million and giving it $21.6 million in two weekends. That has yet to match the $26 million opening of the first one, but being a Blumhouse movie, they kept it cheap, only spending $9 million on production, so it's still a winner, but not anywhere near to the scale of Happy Death Day's $55 million on a $4.8 million budget.

Cold Pursuit earns $3.3 million in its third weekend and has $27 million to date. Someone thought it was a good idea to spend $60 million on this, even as Liam Neeson's Old Guy Action Hero series has worn thin after several years. I think it could catch on as a cult classic on the streaming sites (as it was somewhat positively reviewed and has lots of dark humor), but it's going to take a bath domestically.

The Upside creeps closer to being 2019's second $100 million film as in its seventh weekend it adds $3.2 million and has $99.7 million to date. It will cross the magic number this week, all on a $38 million budget. It's one of the best success stories in a what's been a mostly miserable first two months of 2019.

Faith-based film Run the Race crashes the party in tenth place with $2.2 million in 853 theaters. The only notable aspect here is that former football player and current New York Mets farmhand Tim Tebow has an executive producer credit. I don't have anything else to add about this one.

Your top 12 films this weekend earned $115.8 million, which doesn't compare to last year, when the second weekend of Black Panther earned $111.6 million by itself. Yeah, that's gonna keep being a theme for a while.

Next weekend is relatively quiet before the arrival of Captain Marvel, with the only wide release Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral by Tyler Perry, as Perry sends off the Madea character for good.

Top Ten for Weekend February 22-24, 2019
Gross ($)
Weekly Change
Gross ($)
1 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Universal 55.5 New 58.0
2 Alita: Battle Angel 20th Century Fox 12.0 -58% 60.6
3 The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Warner Bros. 10.0 -52% 83.6
4 Fighting With My Family United Artists 8.0 +5,673% 8.2
5 Isn't It Romantic Warner Bros. 7.5 -47% 33.7
6 What Men Want Paramount 5.2 -51% 45.0
7 Happy Death Day 2U Universal 4.9 -47% 21.6
8 Cold Pursuit Lionsgate 3.3 -45% 27.0
9 The Upside STX Entertainment 3.2 -42% 99.7
10 Run the Race Roadside Attractions 2.2 New 2.2
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations



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