Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum opened with a bang this weekend at theaters across North America. The acclaimed Keanu Reeves sequel had more than enough firepower to take away the number one spot from Avengers: Endgame and leave fellow newcomers A Dog’s Journey and The Sun Is Also A Star in the dust.
Strong business from the top three films aside, the 2019 box office scene continues to remain a bit of a dumpster fire as business for the year continues to lag roughly 10% behind last year at this time. With The Avengers out of the way, Hollywood looks to the upcoming summer of the familiar in the hopes of closing the gap.
After two films with a combined kill count over 200 people -and a combined global box office take of $260 million-, it appears that you really can’t keep a good hit man down. The indestructible killing machine known as John Wick is back for more while running for his life in the new action epic John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Judging by the bloody good $57 million taken in from 3,850 theaters this weekend, people were more than eager to join in on Mr. Wick’s “fun run.”
Parabellum’s arrival is a sigh of relief for struggling Lionsgate Pictures, who has been desperate for a big box office hit following a string of recent duds that included Robin Hood, Cold Pursuit and the remake of Hellboy.
Beginning on a modest note five years ago, the John Wick series is one that has grown considerably in popularity with each successive film. Parabellum’s debut is roughly four times bigger than the $14.4 million scored by the original Wick back in the fall of 2014. The $57 million start is also close to double the $30 million earned by JW: Chapter Two back in February of 2017.
One factor that has helped this action franchise continue to expand its audience is something that is usually proves to be a stumbling block: reviews. Whereas a fair amount of modern-day action series tend to receive notices that start out okay and get progressively worse with each new entry, the opposite appears to be happening to the John Wick series.
On Rotten Tomatoes, Parabellum scored an 89% approval and a 74/100 on Metacritic, the strongest feedback for the series so far. The film also earned an encouraging “A-“ from ticket buyers, the same grade they gave to JW: Chapter Two. That strong all around word-of-mouth should help Parabellum fly by the $100 million mark, which in turn could get Chapter Four into multiplexes faster than the title character can reload a gun.
John Wick 3 also had a sizeable opening overseas this weekend, scoring an estimated $35.2 million. As with its domestic start, the international debut was a record for the franchise.
Moving down to second place in its fourth weekend, Avengers: Endgame dipped 54%to earn an estimated $29.4million from 4,220 theaters. That helped edge the Marvel behemoth’s domestic total up to $770.8 million. Endgame pushed past Avatar’s $760 million Saturday to land in second place on the all-time domestic earners list just behind the $936 million earned by 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
On the international front, the Disney/Marvel blockbuster added $47 million this weekend. The new foreign total for Endgameis $1.84 billion. With $2.61 billion in overall global sales, Endgame is now just $173 million shy of Avatar’s $2.78 billion.
The second weekend of Warner’s Pokemon: Detective Pikachu took a 57% dive in business on 4,248 screens to earn an estimated $24.8million. After ten days, the Justice Smith/Ryan Reynolds feature has caught $94million domestically and an additional $193 million from overseas. Detective Pikachu is looking to wind down its domestic run around the $140 million mark.
The Universal sequel A Dog’s Journey was next with a doggone weak $8million. The follow up to the 2017 sleeper hit A Dog’s Purpose –and not to be confused with this past winter’s A Dog’s Way Home– was met with a collective shrug from the critics but championed by family audiences.A Dog’s Journey scored a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 43/100 on Metacritic. Ticket buyers made the film’s tail wag approvingly thanks to an “A” grade from CinemaScore.
Rounding out the top five was United Artists’ The Hustle, which fooled 53% fewer viewers in its second weekend on 3,077 screens. The Anne Hathaway/Rebel Wilson comedy earned an estimated $6 million to bring its ten-day total up to $23 million. The Hustle is looking to con its way onto home video with roughly $35 million in the box office bank.
- The Intuder (Sony) $4 million (-44%); $28 million
- Long Shot (Lionsgate) $3.4 million (-46%); $25.7 million
- The Sun Is Also A Star (MGM) $2.6 million
It also appears to be a film no one cares about.
- Poms (STX) $2.1 million (-61%); $10 million
- Uglydolls (STX) $1.6 million (-61%); $17.3 million
Memorial Day weekend sees the arrival of Disney’s live-action take on Aladdin, the acclaimed United Artists comedy Booksmart and the Sony horror feature Brightburn. Aladdin is forecasted to open with roughly $80 million over the long holiday weekend.