Split Bowls a Strike in Theaters
Universal Pictures’ horror thriller Split posted one of the most surprising box office performances in months last weekend (Jan. 20-22), with a $40.01 million opening weekend coming well ahead of many of the most optimistic projections. Paramount Pictures’ action sequel xXx: The Return of Xander Cage came in second place with $20.13 million, but that was far below what the original xXx opened with back in 2002. The leader for the past two weekends, 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures, dropped to third place with $15.72 million.
Split surpassed its highest projections, as the most anybody on the prediction site Box Office Theory expected for the film to earn was $35 million. The suspenseful title starring James McAvoy as a kidnapper with multiple personality disorder was helped by both its intriguing marketing strategy, which gained it increasing buzz over the past few months, as well as a lackluster opening from the other new debut.
As a result, Split starts 57.4 percent above director M. Night Shyamalan’s previous horror release, 2015’s The Visit with $25.42 million. It also starts notably above last year’s successful horror titles, such as Don’t Breathe with $26.41 million and Lights Out with $21.68 million. The best comparison would probably be last June’s The Conjuring 2, which opened with an almost-identical $40.4 million. That film went on to earn $102.4 million, though it is possible Split could potentially even exceed that, since as a non-sequel it’s not likely to be as frontloaded as The Conjuring 2 was.
The xXx: The Return of Xander Cage action sequel starring Vin Diesel started 54.8 percent behind the $44.50 million opening of the original xXx in 2002. The comparison suffers even more when adjusting for inflation: xXx started with approximately $65.18 million in today’s dollars, meaning the sequel starts 69.1 percent lower in terms of tickets sold. The film at least starts 86.2 percent higher than Diesel’s previous lead role in an action film, 2015’s financially-disappointing The Last Witch Hunter with its $10.81 million opening.
Following a year where most sequels performed worse than their predecessors — at least domestically — an unusual downturn considering the usually-reliable bankability of sequels, January isn’t getting 2017 on the best footing for that metric either, with both The Return of Xander Cage and the low start of Underworld: Blood Wars. However, Diesel does seem significantly more likely to strike box office gold in a few months with his fellow action sequel The Fate of the Furious.
After two weekends on top, Hidden Figures fell 42.9 percent to third place. The film has now earned $83.71 million to date and seems a lock to pass $100 million total, a feat many did not expect pre-release.
Walt Disney Studios’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story took sixth place with $7.21 million, but the real story for the film was overseas as it has earned $512.38 million nationally and crossed the $1 billion mark globally.
Weinstein Company’s The Founder opened with $3.40 million in 11th place. The biopic stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who turned McDonald’s from a single-location operation into a global franchise. The film opened in 1,115 theaters, only about one-third of the theater count Split or xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, plus it was intended to be more of an awards contender than a box office success, so its 11th place debut shouldn’t be considered too much of a disappointment, all things considered. The movie starts about 22.7 percent behind the highest-grossing weekend for Keaton’s previous film, 2015’s fellow real-life story Spotlight with $4.40 million.
The top 10 films last weekend made $120.21 million total. That’s 19.1 percent below the $148.71 million earned by the top 10 the previous weekend, 5.8 percent ahead of the $115.59 million earned by the top 10 on the same weekend last year, when The Revenant led.
|This Week||Last Week||Movie||Weekend Gross||Cumulative Gross||Weeks|
|2||—||xXx: The Return of Xander Cage||$20.13M||$20.13M||1|
|4||2||Sing||$9.00M||$249.33M||5||5||3||La La Land||$8.43M||$89.76M||7|
|6||4||Rogue One: A Star Wars Story||$7.21M||$512.38M||6|
|10||5||The Bye Bye Man||$3.43M||$19.99M||2|