Weekend Box Office: Tempting Fate

Five new movies opened in the shadow of last week’s ‘Fate of the Furious’ and not a single one of them came close making a dent in the Top 10. In fact, all five underperformed and two completely backfired. Fortunately, four of the five were made with minuscule budgets, leaving only one as an unmistakable flop.

Domestically, ‘The Fate of Furious‘ may not be falling faster than… well, pretty much anything Vin Diesel’ has made outside of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise (if you were among the few that saw the latest ‘xXx’ movie, you know what I’m talking about), but it certainly isn’t performing as well as the last installment. This weekend, domestic returns fell 61% from its opening weekend, which is much steeper than ‘Furious 7‘. However, the international box office tells another story. Overseas, the movie is unstoppable. The foreign box office yielded $163.4 million this weekend. With domestic and international totals up to $163.5 million and $744.8 million respectively, the worldwide total has reached $908.3 million in just ten short days. ‘Furious 7’ was the fastest film to cross the $1 billion mark (17 days). At this rate (and with ‘Fate’ debuting in Japan this week), we just might be talking about a new record-holder in next week’s box office post.

Barely affected by the weekend’s new offerings, ‘The Boss Baby‘ and ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ each retained their positions. In second place, four-week-old ‘The Boss Baby’ only slipped 20% and added another $12.7 million to its domestic earnings, which are now up to $136.9 million. Its international box office stands at $221.1 million, giving it a $358.1 million worldwide total. In its sixth week, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ only fell 27% and closed in third place. It added $9.9 million, bringing its domestic total to $471 million. With international box office of $629.2 million, the beast has consumed $1.1 billion worldwide.

DisneyNature hasn’t seen great returns from its Earth Day nature documentaries, but ‘Born in China‘ showed an uptick from past years’ offerings. The film, which tells the story of three animal species, outperformed each of the other four nationwide releases. From 1,508 screens, the Chinese/American co-production grossed $5.1 million domestically and $9.5 million internationally, giving it a $14.6 million worldwide debut.

Like ‘The Boss Baby’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Going in Style‘ retained its spot (#5) in the Top 10 and was barely affected by the new releases. The comedic caper movie only fell 20% and added $5 million over its third week. With a domestic total of $31.7 million and an international total of $19.1 million, the $25 million picture is almost in the black with a worldwide total of $50.8 million.

The second-best of the weekend’s newcomers was the Katherine Heigl/Roasario Dawson catfight thriller ‘Unforgettable‘, which turned out to be pretty forgettable after all. The Lifetime-looking movie made $4.8 million, just enough to land it in the #7 spot. Overseas, it pulled $1.7 million. That $6.5 million worldwide debut may seem bad, but it’s not as bad as it looks. Produced on a budget of $12 million, Warner Bros. won’t be deeply affected by this disappointment. Heigl’s big-screen career, on the other hand, may be.

Unlike the made-for-nothing ‘Unforgettable’, the love triangle high drama ‘The Promise‘ had a lot more to lose. Despite its strong cast, the film opened to $4 million in North America. I blame a lack of marketing. ‘The Promise’ has yet to launch overseas, but considering its hefty $90 million price tag, Open Road needs it to perform spectacularly when it does. After the studio’s flop of ‘Spark: A Space Tail’ last weekend, the studio really needs ‘The Promise’ to pull through.

The other two wide releases landed outside the Top 10 – one barely outside, and the other way outside.

The micro-budget PG-13 horror movie ‘Phoenix Forgotten‘ opened at #11 with $2 million. Produced for $2.8 million, if/when it opens overseas, it ought to recoup its production costs.

The enjoyable British crime comedy ‘Free Fire‘ was the worst-performing of the batch. Its $1 million debut landed at #17 with a tragic per-screen average of just $972. Again, I blame an absentee marketing campaign. Produced for $7 million, with a cast that ought to be appealing enough to draw moviegoers in Europe, ‘Free Fire’ still stands a chance of making its money back when it opens overseas.

Top 10:

1. ‘The Fate of the Furious’ (Universal) – $38,682,095

2. ‘The Boss Baby’ (Fox) – $12,750,000

3. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Buena Vista) – $9,973,000

4. ‘Born in China’ (Buena Vista) – $5,147,000

5. ‘Going in Style’ (Warner Bros.) – $5,005,000

6. ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ (Sony) – $4,850,000

7. ‘Unforgettable’ (Warner Bros.) – $4,805,000

8. ‘Gifted’ (Fox Searchlight) – $4,500,000

9. ‘The Promise’ (Open Road) – $4,064,860

10. ‘The Lost City of Z’ (Bleecker Street) – $2,147,000

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