‘Bad Boys for Life’ Triumphs on MLK Weekend With $73 Million Launch

“Bad Boys for Life” has given a jolt to the North American box office, blasting past forecasts with a $73.4 million opening at 3,775 sites over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The third iteration of the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence action comedy franchise will finish the Friday-Monday as Sony Pictures’ biggest R-rated opening ever and the industry’s second highest opening of all-time for the month of January, as well as Lawrence’s biggest opening. “Bad Boys for Life,” produced by Smith, Jerry Bruckheimer and Doug Belgrad, took in $23.5 million on Friday, $21.6 million on Saturday, $17.1 million on Sunday and a projected $11.3 million on Monday.

The results nearly doubled the studio’s pre-release projection of $38 million. “Bad Boys for Life” also dominated rivals, taking in more than the combined total of the next three films — Universal’s launch of family adventure “Dolittle” with $29.5 million, the studio’s second weekend of awards contender “1917” with $26.8 million and Sony’s sixth frame of “Jumanji: The Next Level” with $12.8 million.

The holiday weekend total wound up at $209 million and pushed overall domestic box office to $642 million — 12% ahed of 2019 at the same point, according to Comscore. M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” led the 2019 MLK weekend box office with $46 million, but the thriller came in under expectations and the overall running total lagged 2018 all year long.

“Despite all the gloom and doom and premature pronouncements about the dismal prospects for a bright 2020 in movie theaters, ‘Bad Boys For Life’ set new records for the month of January and in the process boosted the early year to date advantage over last year to 12% and hopefully will silence for now the naysayers who are being literally shortsighted in their assessment of what they predict to be a rough road ahead at the multiplex,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore.

Universal saw mixed results during the weekend as “Dolittle” came in slightly above modest forecasts while “1917” declined by 40% from its opening weekend. “Dolittle” carries a pricey $175 million budget, which means the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle will have to show significant staying power worldwide to recoup. “Dolittle,” which has taken in $30 million in 42 international markets, generated a so-so B Cinemascore among North American audiences.

“1917,” which won the Producers Guild of America’s Darryl F. Zanuck trophy on Saturday, declined only 33% in its second weekend of wide release and has topped $81 million domestically. Sam Mendes directed the World War I epic, which picked up 10 Academy Awards nominations on Jan. 13.

“Bad Boys for Life” comes with Sony still seeing solid performance from “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which declined only 13% from its fifth frame. The comedy sequel has generated $273 million domestically in 39 days. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” finished its domestic run with $404 million in North America two years ago.

Disney’s fifth weekend of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” finished fifth with $10.5 million at 3,058 venues to push the domestic total past $494 million. Sony’s fourth weekend of awards contender “Little Women” followed with $8.2 million at 2,503 sites to reach $86 million in 27 days.


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