Weekend Box Office: ‘Split’ Silences ‘Cage’

Outside of the big debut for Universal Pictures’ Split, it was another ho-hum weekend at the North America box office. The low-budget James McAvoy thriller trounced the pricey Paramount action flick xXx: Return of Xander Cage, which sputtered in second place. The Weinstein Company’s Oscar hopeful The Founder found few takers in its ninth place opening, while the box office dud Silence doubled its screen count over last weekend only to see business drop by half.

Budgeted at a mere $9 million, Split scared up a big $40.2 million from 3,038 screens. The latest from Unbreakable directior M. Night Shyamalan earned solid grades from both critics and ticket buyers. Praise from the former earned the Bloomhouse production a 76% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, while the latter graded the feature a “B+” on CinemaScore. Split’s debut is the fourth biggest of Shyamalan’s career following Signs ($60.1 million), The Village ($50.7 million) and The Last Airbender ($40.3 million).

Did you miss Xander Cage, the character played by Vin Diesel 15 years ago in the meathead action flick xXx? No? Well, judging by the mediocre $20 million earned from 3,651 screens for the new xXx: Return of Xander Cage, you are not alone. While Diesel’s return to the xXx universe opened bigger than its predecessor, 2005’s xXx: State of the Union, Cage’s debut was less than half of the 2002 original.

Critics largely dismissed the $85 million production but those who did venture out to witness Xander’s return gave it an “A” rating on CinemaScore. Xander had better luck with overseas crowds this weekend. The film earned an estimated $45 million in its offshore debut.

The third wide release of the weekend was The Weinstein Company’s The Founder, starring Michael Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. While the film received strong notices from the press – 82% approval on Rotten Tomatoes-, it didn’t exactly set the box office on fire. The best The Founder could cook up from 1,115 screens in its first three days was $3.75 million, which was only good for ninth place.

The ladies of Fox’s Hidden Figures moved down to third place but still remained popular with filmgoers in its fifth week. The acclaimed drama earned an estimated $16.2 million from 3,416 screens. Off only 22% from its previous round, Figures has amassed a terrific $84.2 million so far and should cross the $100 million domestic mark by next Sunday. Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominations may help Hidden Figures power its way past the $130 million mark by the end of its run.

Universal’s animated hit Sing arrived at the quarter billion mark this weekend thanks to a $9 million weekend on 3,193 screens. Off 37%, the domestic total for Sing is a harmonious $249.3 million after five weeks of release. The cartoon’s foreign gross is at $178.6 million.

Rounding out the top five was La La Land with $8.3 million from 1,865 theaters. Off 43%, the popular musical has earned $90 million stateside. Overseas, La La has landed $83.7 million so far. With the Oscars looming on the horizon, La La Land should be able to sing and dance its way to at least $130 million by the end of its North America run.

6.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney) $7 million (-48%); $512 million
7.  Monster Trucks (Paramount) $7 million (-36%); $23 million
8.  Patriots Day (CBS/Lionsgate) $6 million (-48%); $23.6 million
9.  The Founder (Weinstein) $3.75 million
10. Sleepless (Open Road) $3.7 million (-56%); $15 million

And before we go, let’s have a moment of silence for the box office implosion of Martin Scorsese’s religious drama, Silence. The Paramount film was already in financial trouble last weekend when it expanded to 747 screens, which resulted in a damning $1.9 million holiday weekend.

Usually, that would be the end of the road in terms of expansion. But Paramount felt the need to double that screen count this weekend to 1,580 screens. Did it help? No. In fact, the studio watched the film’s weekend business swan dive by 42% to $1.1 million. With a final haul just north of $7 million in the cards, Silence is set to become Scorsese’s biggest box office –not creative, mind you- dud since Kundun twenty years ago.

Next weekend sees the arrival of the latest entry in Merchant Ivory’s Resident Evil franchise, The Final Chapter and the Matthew McConaughey film Gold.

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