The domestic box office might want to start sending out an S.O.S. After a disappointing start to 2019, industry watchers were hoping Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” would help turn things around and bring audiences back to their local multiplexes.
The animated sequel did easily top box office charts with $34.4 million from 4,303 locations, but it was’t able to build the kind of buzz that the studio anticipated heading into the weekend. Early estimates from both Warner Bros. and independent tracking services suggested “The Lego Movie 2” would open with at least $50 million for the weekend. But unlike the film’s anthem, everything was not awesome for the sequel in its first three days in theaters. Without the boost that the box office desperately needs, the domestic market continues to pace over 14.5% behind last year, according to Comscore.
Despite an enthusiastic reception, “The Lego Movie 2” had one of the smallest openings in the franchise based on the popular toys, only ahead of 2017’s spinoff, “The Lego Ninjago Movie” ($20 million). It debuted almost 50% behind its predecessor, 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” which pulled off a surprisingly strong $69 million launch before ending its theatrical run with $469 million worldwide.
Overseas, “The Lego Movie 2” launched with $18.1 million from 63 foreign markets for a global start of $53 million.
Insiders at Warner Bros. pointed to audience demographics for the decline in ticket sales. “The Lego Movie” played to a broader audience, while the sequel skewed slightly younger. For reference, 47% of moviegoers were under the age of 18, while the first movie saw 41% below 18 years old. With that said, the studio is hopeful that the sequel can make up ground over President’s Day next weekend when kids are out of school for the holiday. “The Lego Movie 2” doesn’t have too much time before two titles also geared toward family audiences — Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World” and Disney-Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” — arrive in the coming the weeks.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo known for movies like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “21 Jump Street,” returned to write and produce “The Lego Movie 2.” Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Arnett once again lent their voices for “The Lego Movie 2,” while Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, and Maya Rudolph joined the cast. It’s the fourth film in the “Lego” franchise, which also includes “The Lego Batman Movie.” Each prior entry cost between $60 million and $80 million before taking marketing into account. “The Lego Movie 2” was slightly more expensive and carried a $100 million price tag.
“The Lego Movie 2” wasn’t the only newcomer to the marquee this weekend. Paramount’s comedy “What Men Want” opened in line with expectations and landed in second place, generating $19 million when it launched in 2,912 locations. Directed by Adam Shankman and starring Taraji P. Henson, “What Men Want” is a gender-swapped remake of Nancy Meyers’ 2000 film “What Women Want.”
Arriving in third is Lionsgate’s “Cold Pursuit,” Liam Neeson’s action vigilante thriller that launched with $10.9 million from 2,630 screens. Neeson made headlines this week for making racially charged comments about his friend’s rape. The studio canceled the premiere’s red carpet in the wake of Neeson’s remarks, but controversy didn’t completely deter moviegoers since the revenge thriller opened on par with expectations. Even so, “Cold Pursuit” marks one of the lowest openings of Neeson’s career.
The final new release of the weekend, “The Prodigy,” secured sixth place with a $5.8 million debut from 2,530 locations. “Orange Is the New Black” actress Taylor Schilling stars in the supernatural thriller, directed by Nicholas McCarthy. It centers around two parents who are forced to investigate whether their child is possessed by evil spirits.
Rounding out the top five is STX’s “The Upside” and Universal’s “Glass,” which earned $7.2 million and $6.4 million respectively. Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston star in “The Upside,” a feel-good drama that has generated $85.8 million to date. Meanwhile “Glass,” the sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” and “Unbreakable,” has made $98 million in its four weeks of release.
At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ “Everybody Knows” pulled in $75,000 when it released on four screens in New York and Los Angeles, averaging out to $18,743 per location. Penelope Cruz co-stars with her husband, Javier Bardem, in the psychological thriller that had its world premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
After this frame, 2019 has seen six straight weekends of year-over-year declines. Do upcoming releases like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” and “Captain Marvel” have what it takes to turn things around?