BOX OFFICE: Summer sequelitis slaughters MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL and SHAFT

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!
There’s really no better word to describe what’s been going on at the summer box office the last few weeks, as sequel after sequel after sequel has shown disappointing results. This weekend was no different as a new take on the summer mainstay Men in Black, starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, and Samuel L. Jackson‘s return as Shaft failed to make much of a mark. In the former case, few were expecting Men in Black International  to do as well as any of the Will Smith movies, but at least Shaft seemed to offer something some might want to see. Nope.
The idea to reboot Men in Black with a new cast but with connections to the original trilogy made some sense, and reteaming Thor: Ragnarok‘s popular stars Hemsworth and Thompson also made sense based on the success of that Marvel Studios movie. Unfortunately, moviegoers showed that they’re more fans of the Marvel characters than the actors playing them by paying more attention to the negative reviews rather than the marketing. (You can read Hannah Lodge’s review here.)
After making $3.1 million in Thursday previews, Men in Black International made an estimated $10.4 million on Friday and $28.5 million for the weekend. The sci-fi action-comedy, directed by F. Gary Gray and co-starring Liam NeesonEmma Thompson and the voice of Kumail Nanjiani, did better overseas, making $73.7 million, so it probably won’t be a complete loss. That said, Men in Black‘s “B” CinemaScore doesn’t bode well for the movie having much legs, especially with stronger movies coming up.
Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 dropped to 2nd place with $23.8 million (down 49%) as it has grossed $92 million in its first ten days. That’s still less than the opening weekend of its predecessor, but it also hasn’t been released quite so wide overseas so far.
Speaking of Will Smith, his Disney movie Aladdin remained in third place for a second weekend, taking in $16.7 million (down 32%) with a domestic take of $263.4 million since opening over Memorial Day weekend. That makes it the third highest-grossing movie of the year domestically behind Marvel’s two releases. Aladdin has done nearly double its domestic gross overseas to bring its global total to $724 million.
Fox’s Dark Phoenix took a massive tumble in its second weekend, dropping to fourth place with $9 million, down 73% which is one of the worst drops for a superhero movie. Not even Lionsgate’s Hellboy dropped that much, neither did the 2015 Fantastic Four movie or Ang Lee‘s Hulk, three of the more notoriously bad movies in the genre. The final X-Men movie in the Fox franchise has grossed just $51.8 million and looks unlikely to even make $100 million domestically.
The Elton John musical biopic Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton from Kingsman, held the fifth spot for another week with $8.8 million, a solid 36% hold in its third weekend, as it has grossed $66.1 million in North America and roughly the same amount overseas.
Reteaming Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree, along with Jessie T. Usher, to make a new Shaft also probably looked good on paper to New Line/Warner Bros.  The fact that the movie was reenvisioned as an action-comedy should have appealed towards a wider audience of older males, but it ended up making just $8.3 million in 2,952 theaters or $2,817 per theater. That’s far lower than almost every prediction for the movie including less than half my own. I honestly have no idea what happened there except that maybe it had been too long (19 years) since the previous Shaft, and though that grossed almost $70 million, it wasn’t that well beloved or remembered. Oddly, Shaft scored a solid “A” on CinemaScore, better than both other movies.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters dropped to seventh place with $8.1 million (down 47%) while Keanu Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum held up extremely well with a 18% drop to take in $6.1 million in its fifth weekend. Wick is nearing $150 million domestically while Godzilla is struggling to get to $100 million domestically. In three weeks, Godzilla  has made what its predecessor did in three days.
After opening well in select cities last weekend, Amazon Studios’ comedy Late Night, written, produced and directed by Mindy Kaling and co-starring Emma Thompson, expanded into 2,220 theaters on Friday, and it made $5.1 million over the weekend to take ninth place. It received a “B+” from CinemaScore, which is surprising considering its glowing reviews since premiering at Sundance where Amazon picked it up for $13 million.
New York auteur Jim Jarmusch received the widest North American release of his career as Focus Features released his zombie film The Dead Don’t Die into 613 theaters. Starring Bill MurrayAdam Driver, Tilda Swinton and others, it opened outside the top 10 with an estimated $2.4 million or $3,834 per theater, a better per-theater average than two of the other new wide releases this weekend.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Men in Black International Sony $28.5 million N/A $28.5 million
2 1 The Secret Life of Pets 2 Universal $23.8 million N/A $92 million
3 3 Aladdin Disney $16.7 million -43% $263.4 million
4 2 Dark Phoenix Fox $9 million -68% $51.8 million
5 5 Rocketman Paramount $8.8 million -46% $66.1 million
6 New Shaft New Line/WB $7.8 million -57% $7.8 million
7 4 Godzilla: King of the Monsters Warner Bros. $8.1 million -33% $93.7 million
8 7 John Wick Chapter 3 Lionsgate $6.1 million -40% $148.6 million
9 17 Late Night Amazon $5.1 million -57% $5.4 million
10 6 Ma Universal $3.6 million 52% $40.3 million

Unfortunately for this week’s top 10, it was going to be compared to the same June weekend last year when Disney opened the Pixar Animation sequel The Incredibles 2 to the tune of $182.7 million. That’s over $60 million more than the top 10 combined this weekend on its own, and not even taken into account the other new movies from last year, including the comedy Tag, which opened with almost $15 million.  Oddly, this weekend last year also saw the release of Sony’s Superfly remake, which also opened in sixth place but with less than $7 million.
Check back on Wednesday for The Beat‘s Box Office Preview looking at only the second sequel of the summer that’s gonna do blockbuster business. Of course, that’s Toy Story 4, the latest from Disney and Pixar Animation. Also, Chucky is back for a remake of Child’s Play.


  1. Suggested headline for all stories about the new X-Men, Shaft, and Men in Black movies:
    “Bad sequel that nobody asked for makes very little money”

  2. Media and movie-industry reaction when movies like Intolerance, Heaven’s Gate, or Ishtar flop:
    “This is what happens when arrogant directors run wild. These out-of-control auteurs must be reined in!”
    Reaction when an expensive sequel or remake flops:
    “This is just a momentary glitch, just a blip. Nothing to see here. The system works!”

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