Studios consider Sunday’s NFL championship a dead zone at movie theaters since the Super Bowl is the most-watched TV event. This year proved no exception. Overall ticket sales for the weekend topped out at roughly $85 million, the second-worst showing in almost 15 years, according to Comscore.
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Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” easily stayed at No. 1 on box office charts, collecting another $17.6 million over the weekend. The third entry in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led franchise has been an unexpectedly strong draw at multiplexes and has generated $148 million to date.
Meanwhile, Paramount’s “Rhythm Section,” an R-rated action drama starring Blake Lively,” got pummeled by the competition, landing at No. 10 with a disastrous $2.8 million. The film carries a $50 million price tag, meaning it could end up losing a sizable chunk of change. However, Paramount only spent $30 million for distribution rights.
It likely didn’t help that reviews for “Rhythm Section,” about a woman investigating a plane crash that killed her family, were dismal. The film landed a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences gave it a “C+” CinemaScore. “Rhythm Section,” which was delayed twice after Lively injured her hand on set, was produced by “James Bond” vets Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and directed by Reed Morano.
This weekend’s other new release, “Gretel and Hansel,” also had an underwhelming — though slightly less painful — opening weekend. The reimagining of the Brothers Grimm folklore debuted to a muted $6 million from 3,007 theaters, enough to land in fourth place. Luckily, Orion Pictures spent about $5 million to produce the film, so it’ll have a smaller path to profitability.
“Gretel and Hansel” was also bruised by poor word of mouth after landing a “C-” CinemaScore. Oz Perkins directed the dark adaptation, featuring Sophia Lillis (“It,” “Sharp Objects”) as Gretel in the new version of the classic fairytale.
In a distant second place, Universal’s “1917” nabbed $9.6 million for a domestic tally of $119 million. Sam Mendes’ World War I epic, widely considered this year’s Oscar best picture frontrunner, has also made its mark overseas. The movie has made $129 million at the international box office and $249 million globally.
Universal also secured the No. 3 slot with “Dolittle,” the $180 million family film starring Robert Downey Jr. as a vet who can speak to animals. The movie brought in $7.7 million in its third weekend of release, boosting U.S. ticket sales to $55 million. Foreign audiences have been slightly more receptive (“Dolittle” has generated $71 million overseas), but the movie still stands to be a big money loser for the studio.
Elsewhere, Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” and STX’s “The Gentlemen” are in a close battle for fifth place. Sunday estimates show that both films pocketed $6 million over the three-day stretch. The “Jumanji” sequel, which opened around Christmas, has generated $291 million to date. Meanwhile, “The Gentlemen” has made $20 million after two weeks in theaters.
At the specialty box office, Harvey Weinstein-inspired drama “The Assistant” launched to $84,702 when it debuted in fourth theaters, averaging $21,176 per location. The movie, written and directed by Kitty Green, follows Julia Garner as a recent college graduate who gets hired at a film production company.
Among Oscar hopefuls, Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” has amassed $33.3 million and surpassed “Amelie” to become the sixth-highest grossing foreign language film ever. Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” is also benefitting from awards attention and has made $28 million in North America.
As a whole, the nine Academy Awards contenders hoping to take home best picture on Feb. 9 have also been populist favorites. Out of the seven films that got a traditional theatrical release (Netflix movies “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” not included), all except “Jojo Rabbit” have crossed $100 million in worldwide ticket sales. Netflix did give its Oscar challengers a small run in theaters, but the streaming services opted to not report numbers. It remains to be seen if nominating movies the public has actually seen will prove beneficial for ratings when it comes to next Sunday’s telecast.
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