In a congested Box Office weekend, it wasn’t ‘Shazam!’s inevitable win that took the headlines, but the mixed fortunes of the 4 new releases. While ‘Little’ and ‘After’ impressed with $15.4m and $6m apiece, Lionsgate’s ‘Hellboy’, and Laika’s newest stop-motion picture ‘Missing Link’ bombed on release, with a combined opening of under $20m contributing to the lowest-grossing weekend since early March.

 

How did the new releases get on?

As mentioned, Universal’s ‘Little’, from director Tina Gordon and producer Will Packer, grew to a solid $15.4m over its opening weekend, marking Packer’s 18th opening over $15m in a row. It’s a record that dates back 12 years, making the ‘Girls Trip’ producer one of the most reliable in the game.

Little’s $20m budget virtually guarantees the comedy a profit, especially considering the legs it’ll surely have with its B+ on Cinemascore. A loose adaptation of Tom Hanks’ 1988 classic ‘Big’, the film stars Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and Marsai Martin (who, at 14, is the youngest executive producer in Hollywood’s history), and sees Hall’s Jordan Sanders become her 13-year-old self again. Predictably, this played well with women, with 65% of the audience being female (and 43% being African-American).

Such success couldn’t be replicated with ‘Hellboy’, however, with the R-rated reboot burning up with just $12m from a $50m budget. Considering its C on Cinemascore and 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, it isn’t a surprise to see Neil Marshall’s film flounder in the face of stronger competition in ‘Shazam!’. However, the realisation that the film most likely won’t reach a $30m domestic total will surely shock even the most pessimistic of Lionsgate executives. What’s worse is del Toro’s original 2 adaptations opening to $23.2m and $34.5m respectively, well over a decade ago.

If ‘Hellboy’ flopping wasn’t enough, Laika’s ‘Missing Link’s opening just couldn’t be found. It earned just $5.9m to become the 11th worst opening for a film in over 3,000 cinemas, and the 2nd worst opening for an animated movie in the same bracket (after Disney’s obligatory release ‘Strange Magic’ after their purchase of Lucasfilm).

It comes after getting by far the best reviews of the weekend, raising further questions of the financial viability of stop-motion animation in cinema, and Annapurna’s ability to promote. Its opening even fell below ‘After’, the $14m romantic drama that saw a Friday to Sunday total of $6m. Nearly half of the viewing came from the Friday alone, as ‘After’s audience, which mainly comprised of fans of the popular Wattpad story it originated from, all flocked early and quickly. ‘Missing Link’ may, therefore, go onto a larger gross in coming weeks, but the damage from such a small opening has already been done.

 

How did the others do?

The weekend belonged to ‘Shazam!’ again, as the latest DCEU release stayed top with $24.5m. It marked a 54% drop from last weekend, a commonality with superhero films, and leaves it just shy of the $100m domestic mark. The hope is for a $150m+ domestic finish, however trouble brews in the form of ‘Avengers: Endgame’, which opens in just 2 weeks and promises to deliver a knockout blow to ‘Shazam!’s legs. The film only added a further $35.9m internationally too, for a worldwide take of $258.3m.

Paramount’s ‘Pet Sematary’ continues to perform like a standard horror, dropping 60% in its 2nd weekend to record $9.7m – that’s over $40m in the domestic bank now. Currently standing as the 10th biggest Stephen King adaptation, it lies just $16m away from the 1989 original’s total in 5th place. Whether it’ll be left chasing its tail, or finally haunting its predecessor, is yet to be known.