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Box Office Breakdown: “LEGO Movie” Sequel Underperforms As Newcomers Dominate Weekend

After a slow January started off the year, a slew of new offerings gave moviegoers something to look forward to in the second weekend of February including a new film at the front of the pack. Four brand new major releases hit theaters at the same time over the weekend and they all came from different genres (animation, action, comedy and horror), shaking up the top ten in a big way. So what stories did the weekend bring about? Let’s dive in with this week’s Box Office Breakdown for Feb. 8-10, 2019.

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The number one film of the weekend was, as expected, “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and while this animated sequel grabbed a large audience it wasn’t the dominant financial performance the studio and experts were expecting. “The LEGO Movie 2” scored great reviews, including one from me that you can read here, and felt like it had quite the audience anticipating its release. In the end though the picture only made $34.4 million domestically. I say only because this is $15 million short of the lowest projected take going into the weekend of $50 million and half of what the original movie made in its own $69 million opening weekend. This makes “The LEGO Movie 2” the second lowest grossing debut for the franchise, which is now four films deep. This doesn’t mean Warner Bros. needs to pull the plug on the series, but of the four films two were spinoffs released within months of each other in 2017, “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie”. While the first was a box office success the second was much less appreciated by both critics and audiences. Oversaturation and an overzealous attempt to push out LEGO themed films might be hurting the franchise in its early stages and WB may need to reassess its strategy to keep people interested in future stories without flooding the market.

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Coming in second was “What Men Want”, a gender-swapped rehash of the early 2000s Mel Gibson comedy “What Women Want”. Despite weak reviews “What Men Want” found an audience bringing in $19 million, in line with conservative studio expectations. That is nearly enough to match the $20 million production budget of the comedy meaning there’s nowhere to go but up. I did not see this movie over the weekend, partially because the whole idea of remaking what was already and odd Mel Gibson classic was a little strange to me to begin with. I might give it a chance, but clearly regardless of the critical take audiences are embracing this reboot for…some reason. Coming in behind “What Men Want” was another new entry I DID get to see over the weekend, “Cold Pursuit”. This Liam Neeson action piece, his eleventh genre film, was marred by comments made from Neeson about his past but in the end it actually overperformed bringing in $10.8 million which was above expectations. The film scored good reviews from critics which may have helped it earn an audience and you can read my review of the film here. The final new entry in the top ten was the horror feature “The Prodigy” which I did not get to review simply because I didn’t have the time, but I plan to try and see it for myself. “The Prodigy” earned $6 million to finish sixth likely due to weak reviews and a highly competitive weekend.

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Looking at the rest of the top ten and top five, “The Upside” continued to show significant staying power falling two spots to fourth with a $7.2 million weekend. After five weeks the film has earned nearly $85 million domestically, well over its $37.5 million production budget. Falling hard from its perch at the top of the chart for the last three weeks to fifth this past weekend was “Glass”. Now nearing $100 million at the domestic box office after four weeks the $20 million final entry to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” trilogy has proven to be the first major box office success of 2019 setting up a year expected to be chock full of superhero and comic books films. After “The Prodigy” in sixth the top ten was filled with all holdovers. “Green Book”, “Aquaman”, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “Miss Bala” finished out the weekend in seventh through tenth respectively.

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This upcoming weekend is going to be VERY interesting. Again four new films will hit theaters (three in wide release and one in limited release) providing the second consecutive weekend of heavy competition in February. I do not expect “The LEGO Movie 2” to remain at the top given its poor start, but you never know. The most talked about release of this weekend is “Alita: Battle Angel” which, depending on what source you read, is either projected to be the first blockbuster of 2019 or the first tremendous flop of the year. It will have to compete against a horror and a comedy with “Happy Death Day 2U” and “Isn’t It Romantic” also debuting this weekend. What makes this interesting is the timing of the releases. Both “Happy Death Day 2U” and “Isn’t It Romantic” are expected to premier on Wednesday which won’t count towards their weekend gross. “Alita” will have special premier showings on Tuesday. So, the film that will win out this weekend is anyone’s guess as it will depend on audience interest, preview numbers and critical reception in an competitive run to the finish for the top spot. The fourth new release this weekend with be “Fighting with My Family” exploring the rise of professional wrestler Paige which, due to its limited theater release numbers, likely won’t contend for the top spot but could earn it’s own fair audience thanks to its subject matter. We’ll see what happens this time next week.

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