NEW YORK – Matthew McConaughey recorded one of the worst debuts of his career, Oscar nominees saw only modest bumps and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” easily remained No. 1 on a quiet weekend in movie theaters.
The weekend’s two new wide releases – McConaughey’s tropic noir “Serenity” and the updated King Arthur tale “The Kid Who Would Be King” – both flopped with moviegoers who instead continued to flock to “Glass” and Kevin Hart’s “The Upside.”
Shyamalan’s sequel to “Unbreakable” and “Split” sold $19 million in tickets according to estimates Sunday, a decent 53 percent drop from its opening weekend. In 10 days of release, Shyamalan’s self-financed thriller has made $73.6 million domestically and $162.7 million globally.
“The Upside,” starring Hart and Bryan Cranston, also stayed lodged in second place with $12.2 million in its third weekend.
The weekend’s biggest budget new entry, “The Kid Who Would Be King,” opened poorly with $7.3 million against a $59 million budget. The 20th Century Fox release, produced by Working Title, was written and directed by “Attack the Block” filmmaker Joe Cornish. In his modern-day London version of the legend, a working-class boy pulls Excalibur from a stone.
Though “The Kid Who Would Be King” drew good reviews (86 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and was largely pleasing to audiences (who gave it a B-plus CinemaScore), Cornish’s film came in on the low side of already undersized expectations.
Smaller still was “Serenity,” from the recently launched distributor Aviron Pictures. Though boasting a respected writer-director (Steven Knight, the creator of “Peaky Blinders” and maker of 2013’s “Locke”) and a starry cast including Anne Hathaway and Jason Clarke, “Serenity” made only a minor disturbance at the box office with $4.8 million in ticket sales.
The film, about a fishing boat captain on a mysterious island, was lambasted by critics (21 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences agreed, giving it a D-plus CinemaScore. The film, made for about $25 million, is among McConaughey’s weakest performing wide-release debuts, behind only 2017’s “Gold” and 1996’s “Larger Than Life.” For Hathaway, it’s a new low.
Several Oscar contenders added theaters over the weekend to capitalize on Tuesday’s nominations. Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” nominated for five awards including best picture, received the biggest bump, taking in $5.4 million in its widest releases yet (2,430 theaters in its 11th week of release), along with $5.7 million overseas.
“Green Book” was the only Oscar film to crack the top 10. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which has already surpassed $600 million internationally, added another $8.7 million overseas. It also took in $2.5 million domestically.
On Wednesday, an expose published by The Atlantic detailed numerous accusations of sexual assault with minors against Bryan Singer, the director of the Freddie Mercury biopic. Singer, who was fired from the production during shooting, has denied the claims.
“The Favourite,” which tied “Roma” with a co-leading 10 Oscar nominations, added 517 theaters to gross $2.6 million in 1,540 locations. The critical Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” also expanded, drawing $1.8 million from 1,557 theaters.
The weekend was quiet even by the low standards of January. Tickets sales were down 30 percent from the same weekend last year, according to Comscore. After a 2018 of record box office, the slow start to 2019 is putting Hollywood in a hole. Overall ticket sales are down 12.7 percent from the same point last year.
“Once Upon a Deadpool,” the PG-13 version of “Deadpool 2,” was the No. 1 film in China where it opened with $21.4 million.
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