‘Bad Boys for Life’ keep ‘Dolittle’ and ‘1917’ at bay for box office holiday

bad boys for life top holiday box office over dr dolittle

Hollywood dusted off two once lucrative franchises for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, but only one got the bulk of the theater going action.

Two “Bad Boys” proved to be too good for one “Dolittle” leaving it far in its tracks at the box office. With just under $60 million, “Bad Boys for Life” brought in just a little bit less than the opening weekend for “Bad Boys II” (adjusted for inflation.) That’s rather impressive as it has been over 15 years since the last sequel.

“Bad Boys for Life” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence brought in $59.2 million in the U.S. and Canada to score a No. 1 debut entering the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The action-packed, buddy comedy returned for the franchise’s third installment after a 17-year hiatus with popular demand to outlast “Dolittle,” starring Robert Downey Jr., which opened at second with a mediocre $22.5 million.

In the new movie, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprise their roles as Miami buddy cops, careening through a plot that has something to do with a drug cartel. The sequel offers a plethora of jokes about aging and a great many explosions — though conspicuously absent is the director Michael Bay, who helmed the first two “Bad Boys” movies. “Bad Boys for Life” was instead directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

Sony Pictures predicted that “Bad Boys” will make around $68 million over the four-day weekend. The film exceeded expectations, building momentum with favorable reviews including an A Cinema Score and a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“It’s a great brand with two terrific stars, a beloved franchise and it feels like summertime in January,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. He said it was a smart move by Sony Pictures to release the film during January, an unusual month for blockbusters releases but it ultimately “reaped huge benefits.”

Box office experts attest “Bad Boys for Life” succeeded where oh so many attempts to reboot decades-old properties (see: “Men in Black” and “Charlie’s Angels”) failed thanks to the chemistry between Lawrence and Smith. Smith also produced the film, directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

“These two stars in their iconic and beloved roles is as irresistible in 2020 as it was in 1995, when the first ‘Bad Boys’ was unleashed upon the world,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “By injecting a bit of fun, it was like summer in January at the multiplex, and who could resist that?”

Also coming well over a decade and a half after Eddie Murphy played the veterinarian in “Dr. Dolittle 2,” the release of “Dolittle” on the same weekend as “Bad Boys for Life” — and its less successful sales — speak to audiences’ inconsistent willingness to trek to theaters for sequels and reboots in the age of streaming. Poor reviews (“Dolittle” currently holds an 18 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) probably didn’t help. “Dolittle” was supposed to open last May, though it was delayed twice due to problems behind the camera. Timing in that respect proved unfortunate, given Universal just endured a big-budget flop with “Cats.” 

“Dolittle” barely topped the World War I film “1917,” which claimed the top spot last week. The Sam Mendes-directed war film continues to hold strong with $22.1 million this weekend after going from 11 screens in its first weeks to more than 3,600.

The Oscar-nominated epic wartime film has gained popularity after it won Golden Globes for best director and drama film a couple of weeks ago. Saturday night, it won an award for theatrical motion picture at the Producers Guild Awards, which has gone on to win best picture Oscar 21 out of 30 times, including the past two years.

“‘1917’ is really taking a lot of the oxygen and taking on a life of its own since the Oscar nominations and all of these awards,” Dergarabedian said. “If you haven’t seen ‘1917,’ you’re totally out of the loop for awards season.”

Along with “Bad Boys,” Sony Pictures has two other films in the top 10 at the domestic box office including Oscar-contender “Little Women” and “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which crossed $700 million worldwide.

“Parasite” also enjoyed a boost after Oscar nominations, bringing in $1.7 million over the weekend and an expected $2.1 million for the four days after upping its theater count to 843 venues. Bong Joon Ho’s darkly comedic thriller has generated $28 million at the domestic box office, an especially strong showing for a foreign-language film.

After nabbing six Academy Award nods, including one for best picture, “Jojo Rabbit” also expanded its theatrical footprint and should bring in $1.8 million from 1,005 screens through Monday. The political satire, in which writer-director Taika Waititi portrays a fictional Hitler, has made $23.8 million to date.

In another blockbuster, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” topped $1 billion globally after five weeks. Walt Disney’s film focusing on the final chapter of the Luke Skywalker saga has also earned more than $492 million domestically.

In just the first three weeks of the new year, overall box office numbers are up nearly 12 percent from 2019 according to Comscore. “Birds of Prey” should continue that upward trend.

North America Box Office

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Bad Boys for Life,” $59.1 million, ($38.6 million international).

2. “Dolittle,” $22.5 million, ($17.2 million international).

3. “1917,” $22.1 million, ($26.1 million international).

4. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $9.5 million, ($17 million international).

5. “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” $8.3 million, ($10.9 million international).

6. “Just Mercy,” $6 million, ($1.3 million international).

7. “Little Women,” $5.9 million, ($6.2 million international).

8. “Knives Out,” $4.3 million, ($3.1 million international).

9. “Like A Boss,” $3.8 million.

10. “Frozen 2,” $3.7 million, ($12 million international).