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411 Box Office Report: Bad Boys For Life Blasts Off For #1, Dolittle Falls Flat

January 19, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Bad Boys For Life Martin Lawrence Will Smith

Bad Boys For Life proved long-dormant franchises can in fact be revived as it massively overperformed to top the box office this weekend. The long-awaited third film in the action franchisetook in $59.2 million over the three-day weekend and a projected $68.1 million over the four-day weekend (including Martin Luther King Jr. Day) for an easy weekend win. That’s a huge, huge number for a film that was expected to bring in $45 million to $50 million over four days; it reps the second-biggest MLK Jr. weekend of all-time behind only American Sniper’s $107.2 million start in 2015.

The result is a big win for Sony, who were gambling by trying to bring this franchise back to life. Bad Boys has been one of those franchises that tried to come together for another go for a long time; in this one’s case, it was almost two decades. Recent attempts to bring franchises back from the dead like Charlie’s Angels, The Grudge, and Men in Black International all flopped at the box office, and there were more than a few people questioning if there was really a fan demand for another Bad Boys film after so long. Will Smith has had a spotty box office track record as of late with Gemini Man and Collateral Beauty falling flat and his successes, Aladdin and Suicide Squad, being sold more on IP value than star power. And Martin Lawrence has largely been MIA from multiplexes since 2011, when Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son was a swing and a miss.

As it turned out, the fan demand was in fact there and Sony marketed this film well. Awareness for the movie was high and it was smartly scheduled in January where it would be relatively free from fresh competition for action fare. The fact that it’s a well-liked film certainly helped too; Critics enjoyed the film with a 76% Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score (compared to 23% for Bad Boys II and 42% for Bad Boys). More importantly, audiences loved it with a stellar A CinemaScore, the same score of the previous two films. The movie is taking off well overseas too with $38.6 million in just 39 markets for a $106.7 million worldwide estimate through Monday.

Obviously, Sony has a hit here (and a franchise-continuing one, at that). The question is, how big will it get? It’s a little hard to say, as films which top expectations like this one tend to have higher drops. It has only minor competition in the next couple of weeks before Birds of Prey opens on February 7th though, and the positive word of mouth should help it. It will easily top the $138.5 million take of Bad Boys II and then some; right now it seems like $170 million should be attainable. That will make it big against the $90 million budget, not to mention overseas numbers. Bottom line, this is an early contender for success story of the year.

One film that will not be a contender for that title is Dolittle. The Robert Downey Jr.-starring family adventure film brought in $22.5 million over the three day weekend and an estimated $30 million through Monday. If those sound like good numbers, they would be for a family film — if that family film didn’t cost an eye-popping $175 million. Talking animals (and dragons) made Dolittle a very CGI-heavy film, and a hefty 21 days of reshoots took place due to poor test screenings. That all adds up to a budget that rivals Pixar animation films, but an opening weekend that came in at an absolute fraction of Pixar numbers.

The writing was on the wall for this one for a while. The trailers were notably vague about the film’s storyline, relying more heavily on the effects work and Downey’s star power in an attempt to sell the film. That’s because there wasn’t much to the story, and both audiences and critics noticed. The film was heavily panned with a 19% RT score; audiences were ho-hum on it with a B CinemaScore. While that sounds good, keep in mind that family films generally score very high. Notable 2019 bombs Wonder Park and Uglydolls even managed B+ scores. Add in the fact that Dr. Dolittle is a character more associated with Eddie Murphy than the Hugh Lofting books or the 1960s Rex Harrison films, and there just wasn’t much interest nor desire to spread positive word about it.

The only question at this point is exactly how much money Dolittle loses. It will be substantial regardless, and overseas grosses won’t save it the way they save many other films. The film brought in $17.2 million internationally this weekend from 42 markets, adding to last weekend’s soft start for $27.3 million overseas and $57.3 million worldwide through Monday. There are still some major markets to open, but they won’t help enough. Domestically the film isn’t likely to top $100 million, even with the lack of competition. Universal is looking at a huge write-down on this one.

1917 had a good hold after its stellar start last weekend, off 40% to #3 with $22.1 million for the three-day. This weekend was bulwarked by the film’s ten Oscar nominations as well as the critical regard and word of mouth. The Sam Mendes-directed film currently stands at $76.8 million domestically and $138.7 million worldwide. It still has a ways to go to make back its $100 million production budget, but that shouldn’t be a problem as it plays through award season. It should easily top $150 million domestically and the overseas numbers are looking good as well, making this a success Universal needs after Cats and Dolittle.

Jumanji: The Next Level was down a very good 32% in its sixth weekend with $9.6 million. The ensemble sequel’s domestic total now stands at $270.5 million domestically and it has crossed the $700 million mark worldwide with $708.5 million. It’s not going to catch Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s $404.5 million domestic or $964.5 million worldwide, but it should finish out at about $300 million in the States, more than enough against its against a $130 million budget for another film to be justified.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was off 45% in its fifth weekend with $8.4 million. The blockbuster stands at $492 million domestically and $1.026 billion worldwide, making it the ninth film from 2019 to cross the magic threshold (seven of which were Disney, and one of which Disney partnered with Sony for in Spider-Man). Even with diminishing returns from the last two films, this is a huge hit against a $275 million budget.

Just Mercy had a decent hold, down 38% in its second weekend with $6 million. That would be a fantastic hold for a blockbuster; for a critically-appreciated drama released during awards season it’s simply good. The legal drama had a comparable hold to the 36% drop for last year’s On the Basis of Sex. Just Mercy has $19.6 million domestically and $20.9 million against an unknown budget. It should be relatively okay, with a likely $35 million final domestic gross.

Little Women had a great hold, turning its six Oscar nominations into a drop of just 24% for $5.9 million. The Great Gerwig-directed film is up to $84.4 million domestically and $128.7 million worldwide against a $42 million budget, making it a full-blown hit. At this point, the film has a very good shot at crossing the $100 million mark and could make it a bit higher than that, making a nice profit for Sony/Columbia.

Knives Out was also down just 24%, another fantastic hold in its eighth weekend to bring in $4.3 million. The Rian Johnson-directed mystery now has $146 million domestically and $272 million worldwide against a budget of just $40 million. Obviously it’s a huge hit and will likely finish out at about $160 million domestically.

Like a Boss had the worst drop of the top ten, down a rough 62% in its second weekend with $3.8 million. That’s a blow to the R-rated comedy, but isn’t unexpected. The Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish corporate comedy sits at $16.9 million domestically and $17.1 million worldwide against a $29 million budget. Like a Boss will probably need some help from the Salma Hayek-loving crowd overseas, as it is looking to finish out domestically at around $30 million.

Frozen II closed out the top 10 with $3.7 million, down 37% in its eighth weekend. The animated sequel has $464.9 million domestically and $1.401 billion worldwide. It is still on course to end its run at $470 million, 18% over the final domestic total of the first film. The budget was $150 million.

Next weekend should see Bad Boys For Life on top once again, with the competition aiming for mild starts. Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy The Gentlemen is targeting around $10 million to $15 million, as is horror flick The Turning.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Bad Boys For Life – $59.2 million ($59.2 million total)
2. Dolittle – $22.5 million ($22.5 million total)
3. 1917 – $22.1 million ($76.8 million total)
4. Jumanji: The Next Level – $9.6 million ($270.5 million total)
5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – $8.4 million ($492 million total)
6. Just Mercy – $6 million ($19.6 million total)
7. Little Women – $5.9 million ($84.4 million total)
8. Knives Out – $4.3 million ($146 million total)
9. Like A Boss – $3.8 million ($16.9 million total)
10. Frozen II – $3.7 million ($464.9 million total)