There was never any doubt about ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ winning the weekend over fellow new entrant ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’, but the pair largely disappointed in their openings, with a combined gross of under $100m. ‘Dark Phoenix’ in particular bombed on release, with its $33m start by far the worst in the entire ‘X–Men’ franchise. Meanwhile, ‘Godzilla 2’ continued its steep descent, whilst ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Rocketman’ passed landmark grosses in their impressive runs.
How did the new releases get on?
The weekend was won by Illumination’s ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’, with the $80m-budgeted animation grossing just $46.7m in its 1st 3 days – a whole $60m less than ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ opened to 3 years ago. While said predecessor being biggest ever opening for an original film with $104.4m makes it harder for any sequel to live up to it, the alarm bells ring regardless once said follow-up can’t even gross half.
‘Pets 2’ stars Patton Oswalt (replacing the disgraced Louis C.K.) alongside the returning Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, and Ellie Kemper, as well new additions in Harrison Ford, Tiffany Haddish, and Nick Kroll. The film follows the adventures of pets once their owners leave them during the day, and was well received by an audience who gave it an A- on Cinemascore.
Why did it open so low then? While the 1st had the benefit of being Illumination’s next release after ‘Minions’, the worldwide phenomenon that earned almost $1.2bn in the global Box Office, as well as opening with little competition (apart from the 2nd weekend of flop ‘The Legend of Tarzan’), ‘Pets 2’ followed ‘The Grinch’, which, although popular, didn’t make half the money (or impact), plus opened alongside ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ and ‘Aladdin’s 2nd weekend.
Regardless, Universal and Illumination must now contend with the likelihood of the film barely making half of the 1st, which, although is also Illumination’s biggest domestic hit, will still cause the studios some major headaches. Of course, this wasn’t as big an issue as ‘Dark Phoenix’, which bombed with just $32.8m on release.
‘Dark Phoenix’, the final instalment in the near 20-year franchise, sees the return of Sophie Turner as Jean Grey (and Phoenix), James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult. Debutee director Simon Kinberg, who infact wrote the 1st adaptation of the ‘Dark Phoenix’ storyline in 2006’s ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, helms this $200m production, which joins an unfortunate group of comic book adaptations (‘Fan4stic’, and April’s ‘Hellboy’ to name but a few) to not open in 1st place.
Instead, ‘Dark Phoenix’ opened to half of ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’s start in 2016, and, like with ‘Pets 2’, we’re expecting ‘sequel-itis’ to once again rear its head and see the film finish on a domestic total under half of its predecessor’s. Unlike ‘Pets 2’ however, ‘Dark Phoenix’ doesn’t follow a record-breaker, but infact a disappointment in ‘Apocalypse’, meaning we’re probably seeing a finish below $100m domestically – again, like ‘Fan4stic’ and ‘Hellboy’. We’re looking at a true Box Office bomb here.
‘Dark Phoenix’s saving grace lies in its international gross, which saw a decent opening this weekend of $107m from all markets apart from Japan. While ‘Pets 2’ earned $16m this weekend after opening abroad 2 weeks ago for an overseas total of $49m, ‘Dark Phoenix’ has already earned $45.6m in China alone, salvaging some hope from this absolute horror-show.
How did the others do?
Disney’s latest release, ‘Aladdin’, added another $24.5m onto its domestic total this weekend for a running cume of $232.4m. Alongside it’s impressive overseas gross, the film has now passed the $600m mark, sitting on $604.9m, less than $100m behind Chinese-release ‘The Wandering Earth’, which stands as the 3rd biggest release of the year. Once passed, Disney will hold the top 3 spots in the global rankings for 2019, and already do so domestically.
It’s opposite fortunes for ‘Godzilla 2’, which somehow managed a steeper drop than ‘Godzilla’ did 5 years ago, falling by 68% to earn just $15.5m. ‘Godzilla 2’s domestic total of $78.6m still sits below ‘Godzilla’s opening weekend, a damning indictment of the film’s chances of profitability. Finally, ‘John Wick 3’ and ‘Rocketman’ both passed significant milestones this weekend, reaching $250m and $100m worldwide respectively after domestic weekends of $7.4m and $14m.