Weekend Box Office: Cat Eats Bird, Mauls Vigilante at Multiplex

There was no stopping the Black Panther Express as the Disney/Marvel phenomenon marched past the half billion-dollar mark at the North America box office this weekend. The Wakanda gang made mincemeat out of two new arrivals -Fox’s Red Sparrow and MGM’s Death Wish-, both which faltered financially and critically.

In its third weekend on 4,020 screens, Black Panther scored an estimated $65.7 million. Off a mere 41%, the overall domestic total for King T’Challa saga now stands at $501.1 million. The next stop for the Ryan Coogler event pic is the rarified $600 million club. That should happen by mid-March.

Only two films have had a better third weekend during their theatrical runs: Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with $90.2 million and Avatar with $68.2 million. Both of those films had an advantage: their third weekends were holiday frames. Panther didn’t have that advantage. It pulled off its massive third round on a non-holiday weekend in the dead of winter, a feat it should continue to do for many weeks to come.

Thanks to a $13 million opening in Russia and a $2.4 million start in Japan, Black Panther’s international gross has climbed to $397 million. The film opens in China next weekend, which should help propel the film well past the $500 million mark internationally and the billion-dollar club globally.

Flying quietly into second place was the Jennifer Lawrence spy flick Red Sparrow with an estimated $17 million from 3,056 screens. Originally scheduled for release last November, -it swapped spots with Murder on the Orient Express- the R-rated Fox release was picked apart by the critics. Directed by Lawrence’s Hunger Games helmer Frances Lawrence, Sparrow flew to a weak 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 54/100 on Metacritic. Ticket buyers were a little more receptive to the film, but not by much. They gave Red Sparrow a middling “B” on CinemaScore. The mediocre reception for Red Sparrow marks the second misfire for Lawrence following last fall’s disastrous Paramount release, mother!

Speaking of dust-collecting duds, MGM finally dumped its Death Wish remake onto 2,847 screens this weekend –two weeks after the Parkland school shooting, no less- where it collected a dull $13 million. As if bad timing wasn’t enough to keep people away, horrible reviews finished the job. Critics bestowed the Eli Roth/Bruce Willis rehash of the 1974 Charles Bronson flick with a dire 15% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 31/100 on Metacritic. Ticket buyers polled on CinemaScore –I’m guessing somewhere in the heartland of America- gave the film a “B+.”

In fourth place was Warner’s Game Night, which had a solid hold in its second weekend on 3,502 screens. The Jason Bateman/Rachel McAdams comedy scored an estimated $10.7 million this weekend, a decrease of only 37% from one week ago. After ten days, Game Night has scored $33.5 million so far and could finish with a tidy $55 million by the end of its run.

Rounding out the top five in its fourth weekend is Sony’s family pic Peter Rabbit with an estimated $10 million from 3,607 screens. Off only 22%, Peter has hopped his way to $84 million so far.

  1.  Annihilation (Paramount) $5.65 million (-49%); $20.6 million
  2.  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) $4.5 million (-20%); $393 million
  3.  Fifty Shades Freed (Sony) $3.3 million (-54%); $95 million
  4.  The Greatest Showman (Fox) $2.7 million (-21%); $164.6 million
  5.  Every Day (Orion/MGM) $1.56 million (-48%); $5.2 million

Finally, this year’s group of Oscar nominees took this weekend to score some last-minute box office scratch in anticipation of tonight’s ceremony. Fox’s one-two awards punch of The Shape of Water ($1.4 million) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ($1.2 million) fared the best, with Call Me By Your Name and The Post each scoring just under a million dollars.

Next Friday, Disney releases the fantasy epic A Wrinkle In Time. Could this be the film that finally knocks Black Panther from the top spot? If anything will do in the next few weeks, it would be this long-awaited film adaptation of the Madeline L’Engle novel.

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