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“Aladdin” Defies Naysayers With Big Memorial Day Weekend Debut

Memorial Day weekend proved to be an up and down holiday for the box office with three new offerings attempting to topple the powerhouse trio of “John Wick 3”, “Avengers: Endgame” and “Detective Pikachu”. The most talked about release was Disney’s latest live action remake, the second of four slated for theaters in 2019, “Aladdin” which had to fend off not only the three strong holdovers but a pair of smaller newcomers in “Brightburn” and “Booksmart”. It’s always interesting to see how the box office fares on a holiday so let’s get to it and see the winners and losers of Memorial Day 2019 in this week’s Box Office breakdown.

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The obvious pick was also the eventually winner as Disney scored another number one debut in 2019 with the live action “Aladdin”. Despite fan criticism early on, the flick persevered making around $112.7 million over the four-day holiday weekend from 4,476 theaters. With a budget of $183 million, Disney has put a lot of stock in holdover potential for the remake but the over $121 million it made on the international market certainly helps. The domestic gross also surprised by pushing the remake into the top five Memorial Day weekend openings of all time. “Aladdin” overcame middling reviews and fan backlash over its very existence to have a successful first weekend and it’s a good thing too as the next month will bring heavy competition, including several new offerings from Disney itself. You can read my review of “Aladdin” here. Following in the top five are the three aforementioned holdovers that have created a bit of a log jam at the top of the box office. Last week’s champion “John Wick: Chapter 3” brought in another $31 million over the four-day weekend domestically to finish second while “Endgame” and “Detective Pikachu” finished third and fourth respectively. It’s the first time “Endgame” has been out of the top two positions after five weeks in theaters. “Endgame” had a relatively quiet weekend compared to its numerous record-breaking stints of the past but it did managed to earn over $800 million total domestically which puts it with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the only two movies to ever top that mark in the United States. Worldwide “Endgame” it literally inching closer to “Avatar” for the most successful movie globally with $111 million to go before it earns that title.

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The logjam in the top five resulted in two other newcomers hitting expectations but still disappointing in their own debuts over the holiday. Sony’s Superman-gone-bad horror film “Brightburn” earned $9.5 million over the four day weekend, surpassing the $8 million it was expected to meet, while Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, “Booksmart”, earned $8.6 million, in line with studio expectations. You can read my reviews of “Brightburn” here and “Booksmart” here. The rest of the top ten was uneventful. “A Dogs Journey”, “The Hustle”, “The Intruder” and “Long Shot”, all films that failed to top the box office or really shine in any way in their respective debuts, closed out the final four spots. Interestingly Disney did see another of its live action remakes, “Dumbo”, make a surprising jump from 18th to 11th, a 330.6% increase over last weeks numbers. “Uglydolls”, “Poms” and “The Sun Is Also a Star” all fell out of the top ten disappearing with whimpers.

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We will likely see out fourth different number one film in as many weeks this time next week as Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures debut the third entry in their extended Legendary MonsterVerse, “Godzilla: King of Monsters”. The second Godzilla movie in the series and the lead in to 2020’s “Godzilla vs. Kong”, look for the king to rise to the top again. It will face competition from not only the holdovers but also the Elton John biopic “Rocketman” and the new thriller “Ma” which sees Octavia Spencer take on a whole new kind of character in an against type role. We will see how things shake out in the next Box Office Breakdown.

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