Box Office Wrap Up: In a Twist, Split Shatters Expectations.

Box Office Wrap Up: In a Twist, Split Shatters Expectations.

M. Night’s latest thriller was the big winner on a slow weekend.

The cold and stormy weekend put up dismal numbers overall at the box office, but M. Night Shyamalan kept his recent winning streak alive.  Split, starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, smashed expectations on a weekend when other new releases fell through the cracks, and many films hoping to cash in on awards show fever failed to find audiences.

Box Office History.

Box Office Wrap Up: In a Twist, Split Shatters Expectations.
Well shucks, winter sure sucks!

The overall take for this week was down a pretty dismal 30% over last year, and well down compared to recent years (meaning, for once, the change in fortunes is not solely due to The Force Awakens having done so spectacularly last year.)  January is a volatile month; we’ve seen that studios are willing to put out gambles more readily, and there is a glut of films making wide expansions.  Some, like Hidden Figures, have panned out, but others, like Martin Scorsese’s historical drama Silence, have really struggled.

Past trends show that the slump is likely to get worse before better.  While this January has been modestly under-performing recent years, the overall trend line is for smaller box office totals until the big releases start to roll out in March.  This year we will probably have to wait for LEGO Batman and Logan before we start to see figures picking back up, well into late February.

Top Three.

Box Office Wrap Up: In a Twist, Split Shatters Expectations.
Isn’t that just lovely?

For all of the pessimism, there was one shining golden exception.  Split did phenomenal business, raking in 40 million dollars.  That is a good margin better than Shyamalan’s last outing, The Visit, which was also considered a success.  That 40 million opening is not only M. Night’s third best opening ever, it is one of the best openings for a wide release thriller ever, and it is the 5th biggest opening for a film in January.  A lot of positive buzz went into making this film as successful as it was, it will be interesting to see how well it holds up.

Second place also went to a newcomer, Vin Diesel’s XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.  The film did a modest 20 million dollars at home, but really cleaned up house abroad.  It will be hard for this film to clear the old benchmark of making back its budget on domestic sales alone, but it has already covered its bases including foreign sales.

Hidden Figures was knocked from 1st place to 3rd, but has still managed to pull in a tremendous cumulative take, and is still seeing a very modest decline in revenue as a percentage, meaning it is still attracting new eyeballs at a good clip.

The Rest.

The rest of the list stayed pretty static, with established winners like Sing, La La Land, and Rogue One remaining strong.  The other two wide releases had pretty bad weekends, all told.

The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, just missed the top ten with a 3.4 million dollar take.  It still has room to grow, premiering in only 1000 theaters so far, but a stronger splash would certainly have helped to make the case for a more robust expansion.

The Ressurection of Gavin Stone barely stayed in the top 20 with 1.2 million dollars.  That is a good deal lower than other films sharing its religious themes, by a really wide margin.  Is the bottom finally dropping out of this cottage industry of Christian themed films?

Box Office Wrap Up: In a Twist, Split Shatters Expectations.
Uh, guys, a little help here?

Top Ten Films.

(In Millions)

1.  Split  (40.0)

2.  XXX:  The Return of Xander Cage  (20.1)

3.  Hidden Figures  (15.7)

4.  Sing  (9.0)

5.  La La Land  (8.4)

6.  Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story  (7.2)

7.  Monster Trucks  (7.0)

8.  Patriots Day (5.7)

9.  Sleepless  (3.4)

10.  The Bye Bye Man  (3.4)

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