‘The Hidden World’ Flies High At the Box Office

There was a sole bright spot to be had in the movie business this weekend, and it’s not the Oscars. Nor is it 90% of the box office top ten, which was down roughly 40% from one year ago when Black Panther led the pack with $111 million. No, the small spark of cinematic sunshine was the release of Universal/Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which reversed the tide of diminishing returns to land a franchise-best opening.

The acclaimed third chapter of the popular animated series that began nine years ago, The Hidden World scored a great $55.5 million from 4,259 theaters in its first three days of North American release. Factoring in the $2.5 million the film earned from early screenings held by Fandango, the overall opening for The Hidden World is a terrific $58 million.

The opening for The Hidden World is not only the biggest of the Dragon franchise; it’s also the second-biggest February opening for an animated feature. The current record holder remains 2014’s The LEGO Movie with a $69 million debut.

While fan anticipation and marketing were important factors in landing the latest Dragon feature a big opening, strong feedback from the press and public should help keep it afloat at the box office for quite some time. The Dean DeBlois-directed film scored a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 71/100 on Metacritic and perhaps most importantly, an “A” from ticket buyers on CinemaScore.

The Hidden World also brought in $34 million in international sales this weekend. Since its debut at the start of 2019, the film has pulled in $217 million from overseas.

Last weekend’s champ, Alita: Battle Angel, took it on the chin in its second round on 3,802 screens where it made an estimated $12 million. Down a steep 58% from President’s weekend, the $170 million Fox production has scored a rusty $60 million. Unless it gets a second wind before Captain Marvel arrives in less than two weeks, the best Alita: Battle Angel might finish with will be a meek $85-90 million.

While Alita is pushing up daisies domestically, the film’s international run is an entirely different story. Thanks to big openings in China –which set a record for distributor Fox- and Japan, Alita earned $93 million this weekend. The surge helped push the foreign gross for the Robert Rodriguez epic up toa great $202 million.

Falling apart fast in third place was Warner’s The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. The sequel crumbled 52% in its third weekend on 3,833 screens, where it earned an estimated $10 million. LEGO 2 has earned $83 million to date. With a bit of a push, Warner might be able to get LEGO 2 to the $100 million milestone. Underline “might.” The film has brought in an equally-underwhelming $52 million overseas.

In fourth place with a modest $8 million from 2,711 theaters was MGM’s Fighting With My Family. The film certainly has the backing of the critics and the public, which may give the Dwayne Johnson-produced comedy a fighting chance at the box office over the next few weeks. Family scored a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 70/100 on Metacritic. Fans of The Rock who ventured out on opening weekend bestowed the Stephen Merchant film with an “A” on CinemaScore.

Warner/New Line’s Rebel Wilson comedy Isn’t It Romantic rounded out the top five with an estimated $7.5 million from 3,444 theaters. Down 47% from its holiday weekend start, Romantic has earned $34 million after ten days and should finish with roughly $50 million in ticket sales.

  1.  What Men Want (Paramount) $5.2 million (-51%); $45 million
  2.  Happy Death Day 2U (Universal) $5 million (-47%); $21.6 million
  3.  Cold Pursuit (Lionsgate) $3.3 million (-45%); $21.6 million
  4.  The Upside (STX) $3.2 million (-41%); $99.7 million
  5.  Run the Race (Roadside Attractions) $2.2 million (NEW)

Next weekend sees the arrival of the Neil Jordan film Greta and future Oscar frontrunner Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral. Watch for The Hidden World to repeat as the number one film in the country for one more weekend before Captain Marvel arrives.

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