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Weekend Box Office: Split Has Top Five January Opening, Xander Cage's Mediocre Return

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By Chris Kavan - 01/22/17 at 06:30 PM CT

With so many films being released, it's nice to finally have a success story to talk about rather than a bunch of let-downs (even though there are some of those too). It seems that the M. Night Shyamalan revival is still in full effect. Following the decent debut of The Visit, the director has another, better result with Split. The rest of the pack didn't figure nearly as well with Vin Diesel's return as Xander Cage only getting modest returns in the states, but looking much better overseas. Gavin Stone couldn't resurrect faith-based audiences while The Founder floundered amid bigger, better awards-season offerings. All in all, it wasn't a terrible weekend, but I'm guessing even better things lie ahead.


I admit, I was expecting the return of xXx to outpace Shyamalan's latest effort, but it turns out that audiences were more interested in a twisted thriller than a jam-packed action film. Starring James McAvoy as man coping with 23 different personalities - and a trio of women he kidnaps who must work - and against - some of those personalities in order to survive, Split has an excellent opening of $40.19 million. That is the fourth-largest January opening of all time (coming in just behind both Kung Fu Panda 3 at $41.28 million and Ride Along at $41.5 million) and it also easily topped the opening of Shyamalan's The Visit ($25.4 million). Audiences seemed happy enough - giving the films a "B+" Cinemascore. That audience was slightly more female (52%) and 52% were also over 25. If the film can retain a 2.5x multiplier, it will be Shyamalan's first $100 million picture since... groan, The Last Airbender ($131.7 million) back in 2010. That is very good for a film with a $9 million budget. It was also a win for Blumhouse - becoming the largest grossing "original" picture and their fourth-best opening of all time. In any case, I'm happy the director has found a new outlet for his talent - thrillers and horror seem to suit his style far more than fantasy and sci-fi - and I hope he keeps things rolling.


If Split came in above expectations, the opposite can be said for Diesel's return as Xander Cage. While there was considerable interest in the revival of this action franchise, The Return of Xander Cage could only muster a $20 million debut. This $85 million film may not have received a great response in the U.S. but is looking decidedly better overseas with a $50.5 million opening. Now, to be fair, it did debut much better than the sequel State of the Union ($12 million) and has nearly caught up to that film worldwide ($71 million), so it's not a complete disaster. Still, I'm guessing that with the success of the Fast and Furious franchise, more was expected of this franchise relaunch. The film did earn an "A-" Cinemascore - 53% of which was male and 62% over 25. This is yet another case of a major film that is going to be bailed out by its international returns as it is likely not going to reach its $85 million budget stateside. We'll see if the results are enough for Xander Cage to continue his excellent adventures in another xXx film.


The true-life story about the largely forgotten trio of African-American women who helped launch NASA in to space dipped a light 22.1%, bringing in $16.25 million and raising its total to $84.23 million. The film, with or without major awards, should be able to top the $100 million mark in the next couple of weeks. If it should manage to snag some upcoming nominations, it could turn that into even greater returns. In any case, the end result is going to be the same: a big win for Fox and a glimmer of hope that some more untold stories might finally get told.


With its 4th-place finish of $9.03 million, Sing now has a total of $249.3 million - which means it officially passed My Big Fat Greek Wedding ($241 million) to become the highest-grossing film that never reached the top position at the box office. It will hit $250 million by Monday for sure and has earned $428 million worldwide. The film has already tripled its budget in the U.S. alone, so if it can manage to top $500 million worldwide, it will just be the icing on the cake.


The most popular awards-season film took a 42.5% hit, but is still singing and dancing its way right along. With $8.35 million over the weekend, La La Land raised its total to $89.68 million - also nearly tripling its $30 million budget. The film is set to expand again once the Oscar nominations are announced and could very well hit $100 million by next week. This is the obvious winner in pre-Oscar buzz - and it's doing well overseas where it has amassed $83.7 million for a worldwide total of $173 million thus far. The modern musical is back with a vengeance - though I don't know if it will start a new trend.

Outside the top five: The Founder expanded but couldn't really establish itself among all the other would-be Oscar contenders and had to settle for a 9th-place $3.75 million. The film did earn solid reviews and its budget is small $7 million so this one isn't going to be a huge loss but it just chose the wrong time to debut.

The expansion of 20th Century Women in to 650 theaters amounted to a 343.4% increase and jump from 26th to 17th place with $1.4 million and a new $2.32 million total.

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone didn't stir up its faith-based audience as it actually fell below 20th Century Women in 18th place despite opening in over 200 more theaters. The film brought in just $1.35 million

Things are going to settle down a bit next weekend with a mere three new movies debuting - Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, A Dog's Purpose and Gold.


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