Weekend Box Office Jan. 20-22 (Another Unwanted Sequel, Shyamalan’s Return + ‘Hidden Figures’ Begins Overseas Push)


M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split”

Once again filmgoers have been blessed with another unwanted and unnecessary sequel. Was there anyone – and I mean anyone – who was anxiously waiting for a sequel to “xXx”? Seriously anyone? If so raise your hands.

Thought so…

The first “xXx” movie for Sony Pictures with Vin Diesel came out, believe or not, 15 years ago, in 2002, and was a huge box office hit, grossing over $142 million domestically. However the 2005 sequel subtitled “State of the Union” with Ice Cube in the lead role, was a total bust, bust barely making just over $26 million in the States. That pretty much put an end to any further “Triple X” movies. Well for a while at least…

But then Paramount, over a decade later, for some reason, decided to resurrect the the franchise with Diesel back in the lead in “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” (I wonder how long it took the screenwriter to come up with that name?). However, surprisingly, the results aren’t that awful. The film grossed $20 million this weekend, coming in at second place. But with dreadful reviews and bad word of mouth, it’s almost certain to drop huge in the following weeks.

But once again, this, more than anything, shows the desperation and fear of originality in Hollywood. Paramount was obviously looking for a another film franchise to make money from, like the “Mission Impossible” series with Tom Cruise, while their “Star Trek” films seem to have run out of gas at the box office. So they looked around and decided that bringing back “xXx” was a good idea. They most likely thought that Diesel was a hot property again because of the huge success of the recent “Fast and Furious” movies, and figured audiences would flock to see him again in a sequel to a mostly forgotten film. But as anyone could have told them, they were wrong.

Talking about resurrections… the biggest surprise this week must be the career revival of M. Night Shyamalan. Fifteen years ago, the Pennsylvania based writer and director was one of the hottest filmmakers around, thanks very successful films like “The Sixth Sense”, “Unbreakable” and “Signs”. Then he began to stumble with some pretty lousy films, and his own seeming overbearing ego. Though his 2004 film “the Village” was wildly panned, it still made a ton of money; but after that, things really began to go haywire for him. His follow up films, “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening”, were flat-out disasters critically, as well as duds at the box office. His next film “The Last Airbender” did make some money, grossing over $319 million worldwide, but it was widely-hated, and justly criticized for the whitewashing of the main characters in the film, and pretty much killed off any chances for a possible franchise.

But that wasn’t the end. Then came the unbearable “After Earth” starring Jaden and Will Smith – a film so bad that even Will Smith admitted later it was a big mistake. It was both a critical and commercial flop, not even breaking when the worldwide grosses were added up. By the time of its release Shyamalan’s rep was such poison that his name wasn’t even mentioned in the marketing or promotion of “After Earth”, for fear that audiences would stay away if they saw that he had directed it. It didn’t help. They stayed away anyway.

So with your career in decline, what was Shyamalan to do next? His answer was to regroup, throw out the ego and go back to his earlier roots making smaller, lower-budgeted, suspense movies. And the results have worked so far. His 2015 film “The Visit”, which was made for a very modest $5 million (compared to “Airbender’s” $150 million cost, or “After Earth’s” $130 million budget) got some of his best reviews since “Unbreakable”, and it did extremely well grossing $100 million worldwide.

Shyamalan then set his sights a little higher with this new psychological thriller for Universal/Blumhouse titled “Spilt”, which was made for $9 million. Despite mixed reviews, somehow its premise and the marketing must have enticed the public because the film was No.1 this weekend, making a staggering $40.2 million, putting the film solidly in the black in just the first three days.

No doubt Shyamalan is right now at home in Pennsylvania fielding phone calls from Hollywood studios and producers who refused to return his calls just a few years ago, and are now anxious to work with him again. The question for him is, does he decide to play Hollywood’s game again or continue on his new independent path, which is working well for him right now?

As for “Hidden Figures”, it continues to show some very strong box office legs, coming in third this weekend with $16.2 million, and a total gross of $84.2 million to date; meaning the film is well on its way to doing over $100 million domestically, perhaps around $120-125 million before all is said and done. The film is set to open overseas over from now through March and possibly beyond, with opening dates already set for several countries across Europe, Asia and South America. In addition to Canada, the film is also currently out in Hungary, Italy, Spain, Norway. It’ll be interesting to see how a film with 3 African American women leads plays in Taiwan (where it’s set to open on January 27) or Estonia (where it’ll open on February 17), for example. We’ll also be watching overseas box office numbers once they start to come in.

“Rogue One” has just passed the $1 billion mark worldwide; while the animated film “Sing” will pass the half billion mark by next week. Meanwhile The Weinstein Company’s film about Ray Croc and the creation of McDonald’s fast food chain, titled “The Founder” starring Michael Keaton, floundered (see how clever I am?) with just under $3.8 million, despite some rave reviews. However The Weinstein Co. may have hurt the film by being very iffy about it at first, planning to push it late last year as a serious Oscar contender, but then suddenly backing off and almost quietly releasing the film this weekend to little advance publicity.

Two openers from last week – the Jamie Foxx action thriller “Sleepless” and the horror film “The Bye-Bye Man” – fell, with “Sleepless” dropping 55% from last weekend. But “Bye Bye” took a whopping 74% dropoff from last week meaning that word of mouth for the film is awful. And though I haven’t been tracking it for a few weeks, in case you’re curious, “Moonlight” is still hanging on with just under $16 million to date.

This weekend’s top 12 grossing films follow below.

1) Split Uni. $40,190,000
2) xXx: The Return of Xander Cage Par. $20,000,000
3) Hidden Figures Fox $16,250,000 Total: $84,238,751
4) Sing Uni. $9,036,530 Total: $249,361,725 $75 5
5) La La Land LG/S $8,350,000 Total: $89,680,497
6) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story BV $7,036,000 Total: $512,201,563
7) Monster Trucks Par. $7,000,000 Total: $22,612,000
8) Patriots Day LGF $6,000,000 Total: $23,639,945
9 N The Founder Wein. $3,758,000
10) Sleepless ORF $3,706,444 -Total: $15,193,348
11) The Bye Bye Man STX $3,560,000 Total: $20,119,630
12) Moana BV $2,510,000 Total: $236,784,702


  1. lol at “floundering”.
    ‘The Founder’ is a movie that should have been released decades ago, when the economy was still worth a shit.
    But now the public hates people like Ray Croc, who made his fortune fucking over the little guy.
    Expect to see xXx 4: Electric Boogaloo, if the next ‘Fast & Furious’ film does well.
    I wonder how long will it take for M.Night’s ego to return, and he starts back making more big budget bullshit?
    A very well written article, Mr. Mims.

  2. Sergio, don’t call it a comeback. Mama said knock you out, I’m gonna knock you out, mama said knock you out. I’ve been here for years, I’m rocking my peers, puttin’ suckers in fear and mama said knock you out! ~ M. Night Shyamalan

    Hello Sergio,

    Of course those words are from LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” but they seemed to be the perfect rebuttal to your implication that “Spilt” represents the resurrections of M. Night Shyamalan. As the lyrics said, he has “been here for years” so I think he has simply landed where he belongs, in horror films, the land of marginal directors who couldn’t cut the mustered with the big boys.

    His career path/journey is like that of wannabe medical surgeons who end up in the gutter bowl of medical fields, Psychology. That the medical field for washouts.

    So goes the careers of would be Jet Pilots who eventually become cargo plane pilots. They could not make it at the top (for various reasons) so they saved face by maintaining the title of “a pilot”.

    And look, from what I’ve seen, any C league director can helm a horror flick. It does not take great skills (and apparently none are expected) to direct one of those nasty, low budget, outhouse films. Listen, I watched Shyamalan’s “Split”. I didn’t know it was a horror film nor who directed it. I was just searching for something to watch and this flick’s synopsis said something about a person with multiple personalities.

    Okay, I enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island and Joanne Woodward The Three Faces Of Eve. That said, I did not enjoy Halle Berry in Frankie & Alice. Anyway, I had just finished watching the dreadfully awful “Monster Truck” ( the worst kids movie I’ve watched in the last 10 years), so I was hungry for an entertaining movie. However, about 15 minutes into “Spilt” I was beginning to wonder who made this mess and how it even make it to the theaters. Then it happened!

    For no apparent reason one of the main characters started going nuts. They started foaming and bleeding from the mouth and attacking everyone in sight. I was like WTF is THIS? All that to say, don’t call it a resurrection, Shyamalan has found his home… low budget horror flicks that require little talent.

    And although it didn’t make this week’s box office list, I also watched Liam Neeson and Martin Scorsesse’s Silence. Well I watched Liam Neeson in the first 10 minutes of the movie but then he disappears. That’s right, the plot focuses on his disappearance, and thus, he’s not seen for a looooong time. Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) and Adam Driver fill the void as they test their faith while seeking to find him. That said, this one gets my 2 Big Toes way down. It never pulled me in (in 2 hours 20 minutes) and it reeked of the stench of white saviors as the poor Japanese peasants followed them to their demise.

    But tonight, get ready, it’s time for Lifetime’s “Love by the 10th Date” starring Meagan Good, Kellee Stewart, Kelly Rowland, Keri Hilson, and Brandon T. Jackson. It’s gonna be a goodie, right?

    • “For no apparent reason one of the main characters started going nuts. They started foaming and bleeding from the mouth and attacking everyone in sight.”

      Here we go again. Being deliberately obtuse so that you can bitch and complain. There was a reason clearly stated, whether you bought into it or not, so acting like it came out of nowhere is pointless as hell.

      • NO THERE WAS NOT! At that point in the film, that character was being framed as the quiet type. In fact, nothing at that point spoke to any dangers in that house. In fact, school age children were about to arrive for a summer vacation. So talk about something you know and miss me with that deliberately obtuse mess.

        Come to think of it, maybe it’s you who’s being deliberately obtuse, b/c based on yur comment, I question if you’ve even seen the movie? Hmmmmm, or maybe you’re one of the writers, and are pissed off that this B-league horror flick is being called out for what it is… a sloppy mess of a movie targeted at trailer park trash.

        • I haven’t seen the movie myself, but I thought it was about a guy with a personality disorder kidnapping some teenage girls, and holding them hostage? The school age children and summer vacation sounds like a different movie…..unless I missed something?

          • Sufferin Succotash, you’re absolutely right. My sincere apologies to BYE. The movie “Split” opens quite innocently, with the star fretting over the approach of her 26th birthday which will find her unmarried.

            The story centers on a young lady who’s idol is the bowling professional Pete Weber, known for his maverick, rebellious personality. She meets some bowling jerks who she befriends. One of them turns out to be the “boogieman”.

            Sorry for the confusion.

          • But I stand on my opinion that any C league director can helm a horror flick.

            Look, in Split the so-call boogieman, the jerk with the personality disorder doesn’t even appear until after the 45 minute mark and the movie is only 11/2 hrs long. The first half is your basic teen flick complete with silly girls and goofy guys… Boooriiing!

  3. I hated having to sit through the xXx trailer in the last few weeks and I don’t ever want to see the movie.

  4. Honestly, XXX wasn’t that bad. I think you really have to look at a movie for what it is, what it is supposed to be, and not think just because Marvel and many others have sophisticated the action genre, it means now silly and ridiculous movies don’t belong. I don’t think it needs another sequel, though it was setup for one, but I thought it was a fun thing to watch.

    As for Split, honestly, while better than XXX it seems just as forgettable. Something you don’t feel like you wasted your money on but have no reason to rent or buy when it comes out on Blu-Ray/VOD. At best they may become background noise for a nap or “Netflix & Chill” titles.

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