Neutered Box Office Start For ‘Pets 2,’ ‘Dark Phoenix’ DOA

Unwanted sequels continued to clog multiplexes across North America this weekend as Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Fox’s Dark Phoenix joined Godzilla: King of the Monsters to become the latest victims of the dreaded seasonal disease, Sequelitis.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a prime example of a studio mistaking profits for popularity, with the sequel greenlit a mere three weeks after the original opened in July 2016 to a whopping $104 million. Disregarding the so-so reviews of the first Pets or the fact that the film’s premise would probably work for just one film, Pets’ runaway box office was all that Universal needed to convince itself it had another Despicable Me franchise on their hands.

Or so they thought. Despite a massive marketing push by the studio and a release date change from mid-July to the start of June, the best that The Secret Life of Pets 2 could muster from a very wide 4,561-screen count was an estimated $47.1 million. While the debut for the $80 million production is far from being a dud -and one that will eventually turn a profit thanks its moderate production costs-, it was a whopping 55% lower than the start of the 2016 original, a clear sign that one Life was more than enough.

On the feedback front, critics were indifferent to the sequel. Pets 2 scored a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 55/100 on Metacritic. Viewers were a bit kinder to the second helping of talking pets, giving the sequel an “A-“ on CinemaScore.

After two weeks of release overseas, The Secret Life of Pets 2 has barked up $49 million. The United Kingdom is the film’s top market so far with $15 million followed by Russia’s $13 million.

While the news wasn’t great for The Secret Life of Pets 2, at least it wasn’t the dumpster fire that was Fox’s Dark Phoenix. After eight months of delays -which included reshooting the entire third act- Dark Phoenix opened this weekend on 3,741 theaters where it made an awful $33 million. The final installment of Fox’s 19-year old X-Men franchise not only scored the worst reviews of franchise -a major feat considering X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand-, it also had the lowest opening of any film in the series. In comparison to recent X-Men offerings, Phoenix opened nearly 50% lower than X-Men: Apocalypse‘s $65.7 million and a whopping $55 million lower than 2017’s Logan.

The non-start for Phoenix was a perfect storm of franchise fatigue, bad filmmaking and toxic feedback from the press and public. The $200 million production –and that is before marketing is factored in- earned a series-low 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 43/100 on Metacritic and an awful “B-“ from ticket buyers on CinemaScore.

Overseas, Dark Phoenix opened everywhere but Japan, which gets the film on June 21st. Phoenix‘s global start was good for $107 million, the top market being China with $45.6 million.

While the Mouse House was Febreezing the Fox Division to cover up the Dark Phoenix stink, its live-action remake of Aladdin continued to be one of the only consistent earners in the market. In its third weekend on 3,805 screens, Aladdin scored an estimated $24.5 million. Down 43% from one week ago, the remake has pocketed a great $232 million so far. Internationally, the Guy Ritchie feature crossed the $600 million mark this weekend thanks to an overseas total of $372.5 million.

Following an underwhelming debut, Warner’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters fell on its face during its second weekend on 4,108 screens. Big G, Mothra and Ghidorha fell from first to fourth, rampaging 67.5% less this round worth only $15.5 million. Ten days in, the $170 million King of the Monsters has delivered a Gadzooky-sized $78.5 million in domestic ticket sales. If it’s lucky, King of the Monsters might make it to the $100 million mark. Overseas, Godzilla 2 has pocketed $213 million.

Rounding out the top five was Paramount’s Elton John biopic Rocketman with an estimated $14 million from 3,610 venues. Down 46%, Rocketman has brought in $50 million after ten days of release and could sing its way to a domestic final of $80 million. Internationally, Rocketman has earned $51 million.

  1.  Ma (Universal) $7.8 million (-57%); $32.7 million
  2.  John Wick 3 (Lionsgate) $7.4 million (-33%); $138 million
  3.  Avengers: Endgame (Disney) $4.8 million (-40%); $824.3 million
  4.  Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (Warner) $2.98 million (-57%); $137 million
  5.  Booksmart (UA) $1.58 million (-52%); $17.8 million

Next weekend brings the arrival of Sony’s Men In Black: International and the latest reboot of Shaft from Warner Brothers. MIB: International may have enough interest in it to open at number one, but it won’t be with numbers matching the previous three installments.

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