M. Night Shyamalan’s horror-thriller “Split” has separated from its rivals, and is on its way toward a surprisingly strong $28 million in its opening weekend at 3,038 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday.
Vin Diesel’s launch of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is heading for a second-place finish with about $20 million at 3,651 sites while the historical drama “ ” continues its solid performance in third with $16 million. Michael Keaton’s biopic “The Founder” is showing little traction with a modest $3 million to $4 million weekend at 1,115 locations.
“Split” is outperforming recent expectations, which had been at around $20 million at 3,037 sites earlier this week. Early grosses point to a $12 million $14 million opening day with Thursday night previews of $2 million, while “Xander Cage” heads for a $7 million to $9 million opening day. Some early estimates project that “Split” will hit as much as $35 million during the weekend.
“Split,” starring James McAvoy as a man with 24 personalities, also doubled the $1 million in previews from Shyamalan’s found-footage horror movie “The Visit,” which scored an opening weekend of $25.4 million two years ago.
Shyamalan produces and directs from his own script in a story of McAvoy’s character capturing three young women. It’s the 12th movie that Shyamalan has directed with 1999’s “The Sixth Sense” remaining the most successful with more than $650 million in worldwide grosses.
“Split” carries a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with McAvoy’s performance receiving strong reviews. Shyamalan is self-financing the project, which costs less than $10 million, and is re-teamed with horror specialist Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions. They collaborated on “The Visit,” which grossed nearly $100 million worldwide on a $5 million budget.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, told Variety that Shyamalan has managed to revive his career via “The Visit” and “Split.” Dergarabedian, added, “He’s enjoyed a career resurgence of late with modestly budgeted, Blumhouse produced suspense/horror films that are right in his wheelhouse.”
The Thursday night preview take for Paramount’s “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” debuted comparably to Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” which took in $1.3 million in previews in October on its way to a $22.9 million opening weekend. “Xander Cage” is expanding to 3,651 sites Friday with Diesel reprising his government operative character who debuted in the 2002 movie “xXx.” The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Kris Wu, and Nina Dobrev.
D.J. Caruso directs from a script by F. Scott Frazier, which centers on Diesel’s Xander Cage coming out of self-imposed exile in a race to recover a seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Critical support has been lagging with a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Xander Cage” has an $85 million budget with backing from Chinese companies Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group. Paramount and the two companies announced a three-year $1 billion co-financing deal on Thursday.
“Return of Xander Cage” also opens in 53 international markets (representing 54% of the ultimate international footprint), including U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, and India. “Xander Cage” producers are Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Diesel, and Samantha Vincent.
“Hidden Figures,” which has already taken in a strikingly strong $66 million after two weekends in wide release, is pegged for a third-place finish this weekend. The story, set amid the early 1960s space race, focusing on a trio of pioneering African-American women — played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae — is playing at 3,416 sites.
Lionsgate’s awards season contender “La La Land” and Illumination-Universal’s “Sing” will battle for fourth with around $10 million. Disney’s sixth weekend of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and Lionsgate’s “Patriots Day” will battle for sixth place. “Rogue One” has taken in $504 million domestically as of Wednesday.
BH Tilt is also releasing the faith-based title “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” in 887 locations with hopes for a $3 million launch. The sites were selected because they are historically frequented by faith-based audiences.
The overall domestic box office for 2017 was down 8.8% to $565.9 million so far this year as of Jan. 18, according to comScore. The 2016 period was elevated due to the strong holdover performance of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”