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‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Conquers ‘Black Panther’ at Weekend Box Office

After weeks of speculating which film could slow “Black Panther’s” impressive roll, “Pacific Rim Uprising” took the top spot at the domestic box office.

Universal and Legendary’s “Pacific Rim Uprising” landed a modest $28 million opening weekend at 3,708 locations. The monster battle movie has garnered mixed critical response, with a current 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. Though it opened with a softer debut than Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” which saw $37 million in July 2013, the sequel was enough to dethrone “Black Panther” in the superhero tentpole’s sixth weekend.

“We’re really pleased with the overall worldwide launch of this title,” Jim Orr, president of domestic distribution at Universal, said. “It was engineered to be a global event, which it delivered on. It’s very rewarding to be No.1 at the box office and to dethrone the former champion is obviously satisfying. They had a great run.”

Like its predecessor, “Pacific Rim Uprising” launched to a solid start in international markets, opening with $122.5 million in 61 markets. China had the top international territory with a $65 million debut, bringing the film’s worldwide total up to $150 million.

Steven S. DeKnight co-wrote and directed “Pacific Rim Uprising” with a reported $150 million budget. The original, which starred Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, and Robert Kazinsky, went on to gross $411 million at the worldwide box office, thanks to a strong international showing, especially in China, where it made $112 million compared to the U.S.’ $101.8 million.

“‘Pacific Rim Uprising,’ much like its 2013 predecessor, will rely heavily on the international box office to justify the sizable investment required to produce such a large scale, effects driven sci-fi epic.” Paul​ Dergarabedian, a box office analyst at comScore, said. “Having earned almost four and half times more internationally in its debut as compared to North America, ‘Uprising’ was clearly built from the ground up to capitalize on the huge interest that international, and in particular China-based, audiences have in this brand and this type of moviegoing experience.”

Still, in its sixth weekend “Black Panther” continues to be a powerhouse, nabbing the No. 2 spot with $17 million at 3,370 sites. The Marvel film has taken in $631 million to date, making it the fifth highest-grossing movie ever in the U.S. ahead of “The Avengers,” as well as the highest-grossing superhero movie in the U.S., not adjusted for inflation.

Meanwhile, Roadside Attraction and Lionsgate’s faith-based “I Can Only Imagine” remains a force at No. 3 in its second weekend with $13.9 million from 2,253 sites. Based on the story behind the best-selling Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine” earned a surprisingly strong $17.1 million at the domestic box office, bringing its total up to $38 million.

Following “I Can Only Imagine’s” success, biblical drama “Paul, Apostle of Christ” opened in line with estimates with $5 million at 1,473 sites over Palm Sunday weekend.

Also premiering this weekend in fourth place was Paramount Pictures and MGM’s animated comedy “Sherlock Gnomes,” which saw $10 million at 3,662 locations. That’s significantly lower than initial tracking estimates between $13 million to $18 million off its $59 million budget. The sequel to 2011’s “Gnomeo & Juliet,” which reeled in $194 million worldwide, sees the petite pair recruiting detective Sherlock Gnomes and his sidekick, Gnome Watson, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of other garden gnomes.

The second weekend of Alicia Vikander’s “Tomb Raider” landed in fifth place with $10 million from 3,854 locations, bringing its grosses up to $41 million, while the second weekend of “Love, Simon” took in $7 million with $23 million to date.

Two smaller releases — Global Road Entertainment’s “Midnight Sun” and Bleecker Street and Fingerprint Releasing’s “Unsane” — debuted with $4 million and $3.6 million respectively. Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller “Unsane” sees Claire Foy as a troubled woman stalked by her ex. Shot on in iPhone, the low-budget experiment reportedly cost only $1.2 million to produce.

Rounding out the weekend, Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” opened with $1.5 million in limited release with a screen average of $58,148 in 27 theaters. The stop-motion animated film boasts a star-studded ensemble voice cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, and Bob Balaban. In its second week, “Isle of Dogs” will open in 22 new markets, while expanding in already open cities. Over the next few weeks, the theater count will grow to between 150 to 175 locations. It goes nationwide on April 13.

Overall, the box office is down 36.5% compared to the same weekend last year. This weekend accumulated $128 million, while last year took in $201.5 million thanks to a boost from box office sensation “Beauty and the Beast.”

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