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Tuesday, September 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘The Predator’ tops box office but still falls short; ‘A Simple Favor’ beats expectations

A scene from “The Predator.” (Kimberley French / 20th Century Fox)
A scene from “The Predator.” (Kimberley French / 20th Century Fox)
By Sonaiya Kelley Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – For the first time in weeks, the weekend box office was dominated by three new releases, signaling an unofficial start to the fall movie season.

In first place, 20th Century Fox’s “The Predator” opened with $24 million, according to figures from measurement firm ComScore.

The latest entry from the three-decade-old series came in below analysts’ predictions of $30 million to $35 million and the studio’s expectation of $25 million to $30 million. It now holds the record for lowest debut weekend for a movie opening on more than 4,000 screens.

The fourth picture in the long-running franchise about technologically advanced aliens that kill humans for sport was directed by Shane Black, who had a role in the original “Predator.” “The Predator” earned negative reviews from audiences and critics, with a C plus on CinemaScore and a 34 percent “rotten” rating on movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

The picture became embroiled in controversy recently after actress Olivia Munn alerted Fox that an actor with a minor role was a registered sex offender. The studio removed a scene featuring the actor, who was a friend of Black’s, after Munn came forward, though there was some division among the cast last week during the Toronto International Film Festival.

In second place, Warner Bros.’ “The Nun” added $18.2 million in its second weekend (a 66 percent drop), for a cumulative $85 million.

At No. 3, Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor” debuted with $16 million, above analysts’ expectations of $10 million to $15 million.

Directed by Paul Feig, the dark thriller stars Anna Kendrick as a mommy blogger who seeks answers in the disappearance of her best friend (Blake Lively). The film earned positive reviews with audiences and critics, with a B plus on CinemaScore and an 82 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sony’s “White Boy Rick” opened at No. 4 with $8.8 million.

Starring newcomer Richie Merritt and Matthew McConaughey, respectively, as a young FBI informant and his father in drug-torn 1980s Detroit, the $27 million film came within range of analysts’ expectations of $8 million to $10 million. It earned so-so ratings, with a B score on CinemaScore and a 64 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rounding out the top five, Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians,” now in its fifth weekend, added $8.7 million, for a cumulative $149.5 million.

Also new over the weekend, Pure Flix’s “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” premiered with $2.3 million, below analysts’ predictions of $4 million.

A follow-up to the 2014 drama “Unbroken” (directed by Angelina Jolie) about Olympian and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini, the sequel, directed by Harold Cronk, tells the rest of the story. It earned mixed reviews from audiences and critics, with an A on CinemaScore and a 25 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also worth noting, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” now in its eighth week, boasts $216.1 million in cumulative ticket sales, making it the highest-grossing film domestically in the franchise.

In limited release, Roadside Attractions opened “Lizzie” in four theaters, with $49,895, a per-screen average of $12,473. The psychological thriller starring Kristen Stewart and Chloe Sevigny earned a 73 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

This week, Briarcliff opens the Michael Moore documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9,” Universal premieres the fantasy “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” and Amazon Studios debuts the drama “Life Itself.” Neon unveils the thriller “Assassination Nation” and Magnolia drops the Gilda Radner documentary “Love, Gilda” in limited release.

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