Sony's "Men in Black: International" led ticket sales at the box
office this weekend with $28.5 million, but still fell short of
expectations. Those receipts represent roughly half of what the
previous installments in the sci-fi series earned during their
first weekend in theaters.
The latest entry, toplined by Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth,
wasn't expected to reach the same heights as the original films
starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but analysts
anticipated a start above $30 million. Directed by F. Gary Gray,
the sequel sees Thompson and Hemsworth team up as black-suited
agents protecting the Earth from a series of alien attacks. "Men
in Black: International" is now banking on moviegoers overseas
to make the action adventure a hit. Sony co-financed the movie
with Hemisphere and Tencent, spending $110 million to produce
the film, roughly half of what it cost to make "MIB 3."
Critics praised the chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson,
who first shared the screen in "Thor: Ragnarok," but reviews
were otherwise uninspired for the follow-up, which comes seven
years after the latest installment and 25 years after the first
film. It carries a 24% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were
equally unenthusiastic, giving "MIB: International" a B
"Men in Black: International" wasn't the only sequel this
weekend that got the cold shoulder from ticket buyers. Warner
Bros. and New Line's "Shaft," starring Samuel L. Jackson,
flopped with a dismal $8.3 million in sales from 2,952
locations. That's less than half of what box office watchers
predicted the follow-up would make in its first three days of
release. By comparison, 2000's "Shaft" debuted with $21.7
million. The latest remake reunites three generation of Shaft
men, played by Jackson, Jessie Usher, and Richard Roundtree, who
starred in the original 1971 movie. It carries a $30 million
Positive reviews didn't salvage this weekend's other new
nationwide offering, Amazon's "Late Night." The comedy, written
by Kaling and co-starring Kaling and Emma Thompson, finished in
ninth place with $5.1 million after the studio expanded the
comedy to 2,220 venues. It debuted in limited release last
weekend, collecting a solid $249,654, which brings ticket sales
to $5.4 million. "Late Night," about a TV host who makes a
diverse hire to save her talk show from becoming a ratings
disaster, was well-received after premiering at Sundance, where
Amazon shelled out $14 million for distribution rights in one of
the biggest sales of the festival.
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The final newcomer this weekend was "The Dead Don't Die," Jim
Jarmusch's zombie comedy starring Adam Driver, Billy Murray,
Selena Gomez, and Chloe Sevigny. The film, which debuted to
mixed reviews at Cannes, opened at No. 12 with $2.35 million
from 613 theaters. According to Focus Features, the studio
distributing the movie, that figure marks the largest opening
weekend of Jarmusch's career. Males accounted for 58% of tickets
sold, while 64% of audiences were over the age of 35.
"We're thrilled to see Jim's biggest opening and his top grossing
weekend ever with this film," said Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features'
president of distribution. "His unique take on the zombie genre
delivers his signature brand of humor, style and substance for
In a not-so-distant second place, Universal and Illumination's "The
Secret Life of Pets 2" brought in $23 million during its sophomore
weekend of release, marking a 49% decline from its inaugural outing.
The animated sequel has now earned $92 million in North America.
Disney's "Aladdin," a live-action remake of the Arabian musical
cartoon, nabbed the No. 3 spot during its fourth weekend in
theaters. It collected another $17 million, boosting its domestic
haul to $264 million.
Another Disney title, "X-Men" entry "Dark Phoenix," was a big-budget
misstep last weekend. It dropped to fourth place, adding $9 million,
a massive 73% downturn in ticket sales compared to its first weekend
Rounding out the top five is Paramount's "Rocketman." The fantasy
biopic, which sees an inspired Taron Egerton dramatize the life and
times of Sir Elton John, picked up $8.8 million in its third outing
for a total of $66 million in North America.
Overall, ticket sales at the domestic box office are down just over
7% compared to last year, according to Comscore. A number of
upcoming blockbuster-hopefuls, including Disney's "Toy Story 4" and
Sony's "Spider-Man: Far From Home," are expecting to breath some
life into an otherwise lackluster summer moviegoing season.
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