By Lindsey Bahr / The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES—Moviegoers could choose violence, sex or family-friendly fare this weekend with three diverse new offerings that all drew healthy numbers at the North American box office.
The Lego Batman Movie took the top spot with $55.6 million, dominating Fifty Shades Darker, which attracted $46.8 million, according to studio estimates last Sunday. The spinoff of 2014’s Lego Movie benefited from good reviews and a lack of competition in the family space, which is expected to help it maintain its pace going into the holiday weekend, when kids are out of school.
A whopping 48 percent of opening weekend audiences was under 25. It also bodes well for Warner Bros.’s next Lego spinoff, The Lego Ninjago Movie, set for September.
US audiences were slightly less curious to catch up with the exploits of Christian Grey and Ana Steele the second time around. The sequel didn’t compare to Fifty Shades of Grey’s $85.2-million debut in 2015.
Nick Carpou, Universal Pictures’s president of domestic theatrical distribution, said the first movie debuted in a “perfect storm”. The film adaptation of the best-selling book had gained immense interest and Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday in 2015, making the movie a date-night destination. This year, the holiday lands on a Tuesday.
“This is a great start,” Carpou said, noting that the CinemaScore from audiences is stronger for the sequel. “The story will be told through the first part of this week.”
Fifty Shades Darker fared much better abroad, bringing in $100.1 million and topping international charts.
The other R-rated sequel in theaters this weekend, John Wick: Chapter 2 took third place. With $30 million, it more than doubled the debut of the original. The Keanu Reeves hit man flick became a sleeper hit on the small screen, and that goodwill helped bolster interest in the follow-up, which is also getting strong reviews.
“People really love its unapologetic violence,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for box-office tracker comScore.
Rounding out the top 5 were holdovers Split, the M. Night Shyamalan psychological thriller that added $9.3 million, for a total of $112.3 million in earnings, and Oscar contender Hidden Figures with $8 million, boosting its total to $131.5 million.
It was a strong weekend overall for theaters, attributable to the different options available, Dergarabedian said.
“The tried and true brands are what people really gravitated to this weekend. The top 3 movies this weekend all based on brands that people know and love,” he said. “Each film drew their own audience without harming the other films. This was a perfectly programmed weekend.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.
- The Lego Batman Movie, $55.6 million ($37 million international)
- Fifty Shades Darker, $46.8 million ($100.1 million international)
- John Wick: Chapter 2, $30 million ($10.6 million international)
- Split, $9.3 million ($8.5 million international).
- Hidden Figures, $8 million ($2.7 million international)
- A Dog’s Purpose, $7.4 million ($1.5 million international)
- Rings, $5.8 million ($9.6 million international)
- La La Land, $5 million ($11.5 million international)
- Lion, $4.1 million ($3.6 million international)
- The Space Between Us, $1.8 million ($1.3 million international)