Just because you come in first place doesn’t always mean you’re a winner as this weekend’s top 2 films “The Secret Life of Pets 2” and X-Men entry “Dark Phoenix” proved at the box office. Both films fell far from expectations, meaning they won’t last long on the charts.
Many franchise titles have done well this summer such as “Avengers: Endgame,” “Aladdin” and “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” but sequels don’t always far so well. Godzilla proved that last weekend when it opened in the top slot, underperformed and has already slipped into the fourth spot.
After nearly 20 years and a dozen films, the current manifestation of X-Men movies is going out with a whimper.
Scorched by poor reviews, the $200 million “Dark Phoenix” earned a franchise low of $33 million from 3,721 North American locations over the weekend for a second place finish, according to studio estimates Sunday. First place went instead to “The Secret Life of Pets 2.”
The Universal Pictures and Illumination sequel, featuring the voices of Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Harrison Ford in his first animated role, grossed an estimated $47.1 million in ticket sales. The film was heavily marketed which only ups the ante on it performing well to recoup some serious loss. Although less than half of what the first film opened to in 2016, it’s still a major win for the studio, considering the production budget was around $80 million. Including international grosses, its global total is already sitting at $97 million.
The sequel brings back many of the characters from the original, including a tabby cat voiced by Bell and a rabbit voiced by Hart. Patton Oswalt voices the central character, Max, a Jack Russell terrier portrayed in the original by Louis C.K., who fell from favor after revelations of sexual misconduct.
Unenthusiastic reviews (the movie currently holds a 54 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and competition in the family-friendly category — particularly from “Aladdin” — presumably contributed to the disappointing figures.
“It’s a fantastic result,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic theatrical distribution. “We couldn’t be more proud to partner with (CEO) Chris Meledandri and everyone at Illumination.”
He noted that this is the ninth No. 1 opening for Illumination, the animated arm responsible for the “Despicable Me” movies.
With decidedly less stellar results, “Dark Phoenix” trailed behind the talking animals. Directed by longtime X-Men scribe Simon Kinberg, it focuses on Jean Grey who is played by Sophie Turner fresh off of her “Game of Thrones” run as Sansa Stark. It also brings back James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s the de facto conclusion to the modern X-Men movies that started in 2000, and also the first major 20th Century Fox film to be released by the Walt Disney Co. following the acquisition.
But the quality wasn’t there and it scored even worse reviews overall than the widely-disparaged “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Audiences who showed up seemed to concur with the critics, giving it a deadly B- CinemaScore.
“It’s softer than we hoped,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of theatrical distribution. “While the film didn’t open the way we wanted, we think the legacy of the X-Men series is important and it’s more important than how one film opens. We’re trying to keep it in perspective.”
Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore noted even with the lackluster North American debut and reception, that internationally “Dark Phoenix” was No. 1 with $107 million from 53 territories including China. Globally, its earned $140 million.
“In the international marketplace, it seems like the spectacle and the brand wins out,” Dergarabedian said.
Also, the X-Men characters, which had been licensed to Fox, are now expected to be integrated with Disney’s stable of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Plus, Disney has another winner in its books in “Aladdin,” which coasted to third place in its third weekend with another $24.5 million. Globally it has earned $604.9 million to date.
Warner Bros.′ “Godzilla: King of The Monsters” had a titan-sized second weekend fall, however, down 67% with $15.5 million.
And the acclaimed Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” from Paramount Pictures, rounded out the top five with $14 million.
While wide-releases are having mixed results lately, independent and platform releases are finding healthy audiences. After “Booksmart” failed to make a major dent going wide out of the gates, Amazon Studios opened its Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson comedy “Late Night” in four theaters, where it earned a healthy $249,654 this weekend, before expanding nationwide next week.
Employing a similar strategy, A24′s ”The Last Black Man in San Francisco ” also scored in seven locations with $230,744.
Also, overall the box office is healthy. The weekend is up 37% from last year when “Ocean’s 8” opened and the year to date deficit improved again. The year is now down 5.9%.
“Some movies may have not lived up to expectations but the marketplace is knocking down the year to date deficit at a really fast pace,” Dergarabedian said.
North American 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. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $47.1 million ($16 million international).
2. “Dark Phoenix,” $33 million ($107 million international).
3. “Aladdin,” $24.5 million ($67.6 million international).
4. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” $15.5 million ($47.1 million international).
5. “Rocketman,” $14 million ($13 million international).
6. “Ma,” $7.8 million ($3 million international).
7. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” $7.4 million ($10.1 million international).
8. “Avengers: Endgame,” $4.8 million ($3.8 million international).
9. “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” $3 million ($7.1 million international).
10. “Booksmart,” $1.6 million ($206,000 international).
Worldwide Box Office
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:
1. “Dark Phoenix,” $107 million.
2. “Aladdin,” $67.6 million.
3. “Godzilla: King of Monsters,” $47.1 million.
4. “My Best Summer (Zui Hao De Wo Men),” $22.7 million.
5. “Chasing the Dragon 2: Wild Wild Bunch,” $22.4 million.
6. “Parasite,” $20.8 million.
7. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $16 million.
8. “Rocketman,” $13 million.
9. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parbellum,” $10.1 million.
10. “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” $7.1 million.