Ten years after The Rocker flopped, Rainn Wilson finally got to star in a box office smash hit.
Prior to this weekend, I was convinced The Meg would be a big-budget dud and would struggle to clear $20 million. After all, Jason Statham had only starred in one movie (Spy) that managed to clear $20 million domestically on opening weekend without the aid of the Expendables or Fast & Furious brand name, the book it was based on wasn’t hugely well-known, no live-action shark movie had opened to over $20 million domestically, the odds were stacked against this one. But The Meg proved me wrong by chomping on a great $44.5 million this weekend, about double people’s expectations for its opening weekend. Seems like The Meg is going through what fellow Warner Bros. tentpole The Legend of Tarzan went through two years ago in that it’s a big-budget movie that was widely expected to flop before notably surpassing expectations (The Meg cost significantly less than that Tarzan movie too).
Instead of being a box office dud, The Meg ended up opening just 18% below the opening weekend of fellow Warner Bros. blockbuster San Andreas and scored the biggest opening weekend of 2018 for the studio. This is also the tenth biggest opening weekend of 2018, the biggest non-Fast & Furious opening weekend ever for Jason Statham and the fourteenth biggest August opening weekend in history. People love sharks (Shark Week and Jaws have endured as pop culture staples for a reason!), as seen by the surprise success of recent thrillers The Shallows and 47 Meters Down, and it’s been a long time since Hollywood delivered a big-budget shark movie. The Meg was able to fill a void and offer some late summer spectacle, thus leading it to so wildly exceed expectations at the domestic box office.
In second place was Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which added $20 million in its third frame, a 43% drop from last weekend. That’s a bit bigger of a third-weekend drop than the 38% drop seen by Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation in its own third-weekend, but no matter, Fallout has still grossed a mammoth $161.9 million after 17 days of release. In its second weekend of release, Christopher Robin fell 49% to gross another $12.4 million. That’s on par with the 47% second-weekend decline of Pete’s Dragon two years ago. After ten days of release, Christopher Robin has grossed $50 million domestically, 17% ahead of Pete’s Dragon at the same point.
Slender Man finally premiered over the weekend to an OK $11.3 million, down from typical opening weekends for supernatural themed horror movies (even The Bye Bye Man had a bigger bow) but above pre-release expectations. Sony seemed to be trying to slip this one under the radar due to controversy over the film exploiting real-life attempted murders inspired by the Slender Man character. This would explain why the film didn’t get a second trailer until just two weeks before its release and why Sony/Screen Gems at one point tried to sell the film off. After all that drama, the films box office is just “meh” and with a D- CinemaScore, it’s unlikely Slender Man will be scaring up much in the way of box office in the weeks ahead.
BlacKkKlansman got off to a great start over the weekend as it debuted with $10.8 million from 1,512 locations for a fantastic per-theater average of $7,143. This is the third best opening weekend ever for Spike Lee and the twelfth best opening weekend ever for Focus Features. Focus put together a strong and distinct marketing campaign for this film that also played off the incredibly strong reviews BlacKkKlansman had received since it premiered at Cannes in May. Combining how well it held throughout the weekend (there was a 14% increase from Friday to Saturday even when one factors in Thursday night showings into the Friday gross) and the way August new releases tend to hold very well, BlacKkKlansman is likely looking at a domestic total around $35 million at least, a great haul for a $15 million budgeted feature.
Now we move on to the holdovers. The Spy Who Dumped Me fell 45%, a larger second-weekend drop than typical August comedies, and grossed another $6.6 million for a ten-day haul of $24.5 million. Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again became only the thirteenth musical in history to cross $100 million domestically this weekend as it grossed another $5.8 million (a 35% dip from last weekend) for a domestic gross of $103.8 million. Also holding well in its fourth weekend of release was The Equalizer 2, which dropped just 37% this frame to add $5.5 million to a domestic haul that stands at $89.6 million. Fellow July 2018 Sony Pictures release Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation dipped only 36% this weekend, allowing it to add $5.1 million to its $146.8 million domestic gross, which is only $1.5 million behind the final domestic gross of the first Hotel Transylvania movie. Rounding out the top ten was Ant-Man And The Wasp, which eased another 36% to gross $4 million, giving it a domestic gross of $203.5 million, making it only the seventh 2018 title to gross over $200 million domestically.
Right outside the top ten was Incredibles 2, which eased 29% for a $3.5 million ninth weekend and a domestic gross of $589.8 million. Our final new wide release of the weekend was Dog Days, which grossed only $2.6 million this weekend (it has grossed $3.6 million since it opened on Wednesday), the third worst opening weekend for a 2018 movie opening in over 2,000 theaters, only Action Point and Bad Samaritan fared worse. The Darkest Minds fell 64% in its second weekend of release, giving it an additional $2.1 million for its domestic gross that now stands at only $10.9 million. Teen Titans Go! To The Movies fell a heavy 63% in its third weekend of release, grossing another $1.7 million for an underwhelming domestic gross of $25.5 million. In its second weekend of wide release, Eighth Grade grossed another $1.6 million from 1,084 locations for a per-theater average of $1,499 for a domestic gross of $10 million, making this only the tenth film ever from A24 to gross over $10 million domestically. Death of A Nation fell 59% in its second weekend of release, a way steeper second-weekend decline than the ones seen by past Dinesh D’Souza titles in their respective second weekend of wide release. Grossing another $950,000, this political documentary has only grossed $4.4 million.
Three Identical Strangers grossed another $700,600 in its seventh weekend of release, bringing it up to a domestic haul of $9.6 million. The Island (no, not the one with Michael Bay) opened to $282,500 from 40 locations for a per-theater average of $7,063. Puzzle expanded into 28 locations this frame and grossed only $164,871 for a middling per-theater average of $3,747 and a domestic gross to date of $447,034. The Miseducation of Cameron Post stumbled in its second weekend of release as it grossed $108,000 from 25 locations for a per-theater average of $4,320 and a domestic gross of $182,398. Madeline’s Madeline and Skate Kitchen each debuted in only a single location this weekend, the former grossing $20,220 and the latter grossing $17,000. A Prayer Before Dawn finally debuted in theaters this weekend and grossed a disastrous $14,453 from 13 locations for a per-theater average of only $1,112.
The top 12 movies at the domestic box office this weekend grossed $132.2 million, on par with this weekend in years past and up 30% from this same weekend last year when Annabelle: Creation topped the box office.