Extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage comes out of a self-imposed exile and is on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.
New Zealand Releases:
January 20th, 2017 (Wide), released as xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
It is another terrible week on the home market. There are three first-run releases coming out this week, which isn’t a bad number. However, all three earned terrible reviews and bombed in theaters, so you should avoid all of them. There’s not a lot of limited releases, classics, or TV on DVD releases to make up the gap, so for the second week in a row, we have a Video on Demand release topping the list of best new releases. This week it is Logan, which is one of the best wide releases of the year. I would wait for the Blu-ray, on the other hand.
We are officially in the worst time of year on the home market. The last of the major Awards Season players have already come out, but it is still too early for the Spring hits to be released. The competition from May Sweeps and the start of the Summer Blockbuster Season means there’s not a lot here that’s going to do well in DVD / Blu-ray sales. Ironically, the lack of a major release means there are a lot of smaller releases that are competing for Pick of the Week, many of which would be lost in the crowd during a busier time of year. This includes I Am Not Your Negro, The Salesman, Real Genius, and Seven Days in May. In the end, I went with The Red Turtle on DVD or Blu-ray as the Pick of the Week. In the meanwhile, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone on Blu-ray gets the Puck of the Week honor, as the “best” Canadian release of the week. I just wish it were coming out in 3D.
Fifty Shades Darker remained in first place on the international chart with $44.5 million on 9,600 screens in 59 markets for totals of $187.2 million internationally and $276.2 million worldwide. The film had no major openings this past weekend, and won’t until it opens in Japan in June. The film’s best market over the weekend was Germany, where it earned $6.1 million on 736 screens for a total of $21.2 million after two weeks of release.
Fifty Shades Darker earned first place on the international chart during it opening weekend, pulling in $97.78 million on 9,726 screens in 57 markets. This is the biggest international weekend of the year so far, so that’s reason for the studio to celebrate. The film’s biggest market was Germany, where it made $10.5 million, while the U.K. and Ireland were close behind with $9.4 million. The film cracked $5 million in France ($8.3 million); Brazil ($7.3 million); Italy ($6.9 million); Russian ($6.5 million); Australia ($5.8 million); and Spain ($5 million). The film has yet to open in Japan, but that’s the only major market left. By the end of the first weekend of release, the film had made enough worldwide to cover its entire production budget. By the end of the second, it will likely come completely in the black. By the time it makes its initial push into the home market, it will likely have paid for the production budget of Fifty Shades Freed as well.
International movies dominated the international top five with international films earning the top three spots. This includes Journey to the West 2, which earned first place with $86 million in seven markets. It dominated China with $84.09 million during its opening weekend, including a record opening day for a Chinese film, $52.3 million. The original film made just over $200 million worldwide, so this is a great start, but its mixed reviews are miles behind the original’s reviews, so that will likely hurt its legs.
It was a surprisingly strong weekend at the box office, no thanks to the new releases. Split easily won with $25.66 million over the weekend, well ahead of A Dog’s Purpose, which earned second place with $18.22 million. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter got off to a fast start, but collapsed over the rest of the weekend. Finally, the less said about Gold the better. Overall, the box office was really strong with $141 million. Granted, this was 2.5% lower than last week, but it was 1.3% better than the same weekend last year. This growth is entirely due to Split’s hold plus the Oscar bounce a number of films got. Year-to-date, 2017 has earned $929 million, which is 4.7% lower than last year’s pace of $975 million. It is still too soon to make any real predictions for 2017’s long term success. That said, 2017 did cut into 2016’s lead and it is now down by $46 million or 4.7%.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage easily took first place on the international chart with $50.5 million in 53 markets. The film’s biggest market was India, where it pulled in $7.4 million. Russia was second best with $5.39 million on 1,191 screens. The film had similar debuts in France ($3.1 million); Germany ($2.8 million); Mexico ($2.62 million); and Australia ($2.24 million on 331 screens). This film is clearly doing better internationally than it is domestically, but it will need about $200 million worldwide to have any chance of breaking even any time soon.
Split dominated the weekend box office earning $40.01 million, which is nearly double predictions and nearly double its nearest competition, xXx: Return of Xander Cage. The overall box office still shrunk from last weekend, but it was down just 3.2%, which is excellent for a post-holiday weekend. Compared to this weekend last year, 2017 was 27% stronger. Year-to-date, 2017 is still behind 2016, but that gap has closed to 9.4% at $736 million to $812 million.
2017 has its first surprise hit. Split is set for a weekend just north of $40 million, according to Sunday morning’s projection from Universal. That’s not just the biggest weekend of the year so far, but it almost doubles the $22.8 million earned by Hidden Figures a couple of weeks ago, and moves the studio ahead of Fox as the leading distributor for the year so far. It also marks, of course, a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan. It basically ties the debut of The Last Airbender back in 2010, and his last movie to do significantly better on opening weekend was The Village, which started out with $50.7 million in the Summer of 2004.
Split started off with $2 million in previews, which is better than anticipated. It is also nearly double what The Visit managed during its previews in 2015. This doesn’t mean Split will earn twice as much as The Visit did. Different times of year and different levels of competition make that very unlikely. Even so, an opening of $25 million is now more likely than it was before these numbers came out.
It is a deceptively busy week with five films opening or expanding wide. At least that’s what the dsitributors are saying. In reality, there are only two truly wide releases, xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Split. There is also one semi-wide release, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, as well as two semi-wide expansions, The Founder and 20th Century Women. Return of Xander Cage and Split are the only two of the films that have a shot at the top ten and they could be in a close race for first place. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, but none of them made significantly more than $10 million at the box office. The biggest film of the weekend, The Revenant, earned just $16.01 million. 2017 could finally win in the year-over-year comparison.
Next weekend is busier that we were expecting. We thought there would be three films opening or expanding wide, but we have an additional film opening semi-wide and another expanding semi-wide. That said, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is still the only film that has a real shot at first place and it is therefore the only logical choice for the target film in this week’s box office prediction contest.In order to win, one must simply predict the opening weekend box office number for xXx: Return of Xander Cage.
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going over, will win a Frankenprise consisting of their choice of either one TV on DVD release, two movies, or a kids package (could be a theatrical release, a couple of single-disc TV on DVD releases, or a full season TV on DVD release).
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going under, will also win a Frankenprize, as described above.
Finally, we will be choosing an entrant from the group of people who haven't won, or haven't won recently, and they will win the final Frankenprize, as described above.
Entries must be received by 10 a.m., Pacific Time on Friday to be eligible, so don't delay!
December box office numbers helped 2016 end on ... a note. The good news and the bad news almost exactly balance out. On the one hand, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will finish the year with more than $400 million after just 16 days of release. That’s a stunning amount of money that helped 2016 earn a record box office at the domestic market. However, Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned $650 million during December of 2015, so the month lost a lot of its lead over 2015, so much so that ticket sales fell behind last year’s total. The weakness at the end of the year will spill over into 2017, which is terrible news. A slow start could result in the dominant box office story being 2017 struggles compared to 2016. Bad news like this can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, 2017 is also going to get off to a slow start when it comes to wide releases / expansions. There are 16 films scheduled to open or expand wide this month and none of them are expected to get to $100 million. It is likely none of them will even get very close. xXx: Return of Xander Cage is expected to be the best of a weak bunch, but I could see it getting beat by one of the five Oscar contenders opening wide this month, if it gets off to a slow start and one of the Oscar contenders starts picking up steam. Hidden Figures got off to a great start on Christmas Day and should it continue to earn Awards Season recognition, including some Oscar nominations, it could be in wide release well into February. Last January wasn’t as busy with 13 films opening or expanding wide over five weeks. Of these, two of them, The Revenant and Kung Fu Panda 3, topped $100 million domestically, while another, Ride Along 2, came close. 2017 is going to get destroyed in the year-over-year comparison.
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