First, a digression over in China, where Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan’s The Foreigner scored $11.4 million on its opening day in China on Saturday, before earning around $8.5m on Sunday for a $19.9m two-day total, or $21.1m with online ticketing fees. The Martin Campbell action thriller, about a former government agent who puts his skills back to work to avenge the death of his daughter, is one of a few big releases in advance of National Day.
The top movie was actually a Chinese comedy titled Never Say Die, which earned $20.1 million on Friday. But since The Foreigner is the first live-action Jackie Chan movie in seven years to get a major North American theatrical release (STX Entertainment opens it here on Oct. 13), I am beyond curious as to whether this is his first big (recent) Chinese hit to also cross over into American cinemas as well. With a $35m budget, it doesn’t really have to.
The $11.4 million opening day (not counting online fees) is lower than the $18.7 million opening day of Dragon Blade, but it’s worth noting that Kung Fu Yoga earned $39m in its first two days before exploding for what would be a $254m Chinese total earlier this year. The Martin Campbell-directed thriller, which I haven’t yet seen, is (presumably) less of a family-friendly crowdpleaser compared to Kung Fu Yoga or even the Jackie Chan/Johnny Knoxville action comedy Skip Trace which earned $133m in China last year.
But, again, those films had limited domestic theatrical releases and made pennies in theaters while testing their fates in the VOD markets. We’ll see if a post-Karate Kid absence has made the heart grow fonder.
The only “big” domestic opener this weekend aside from American Made was Flatliners, which snuck into theaters sans pre-release reviews or even Thursday night advance screenings. Yeah, I’m wondering if the whole “no Thursday previews” thing is a new way to hold off a terrible Rotten Tomatoes score too, but we’ll see how that goes. As of this morning, the ill-advised and allegedly quite flat Flatliners remake had a 0/35 score with an average critic ranking of 3.5/10.
The Niels Arden Oplev-directed picture is a remake of a 1990 Joel Schumacher movie that is famous for both a pretty great premise and a white-hot cast (Keifer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, William Baldwin). This remake actually has both, with the same “med students kill themselves to bring themselves back to life and tell of the afterlife” premise and a pretty decent cast in Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton and Kiersey Clemons.
But star power isn’t what it used to be and the whole “remake an old movie because it’s now IP” thing isn’t nearly as sure of a bet as Hollywood thinks. The new film didn’t look any bigger or more outlandish than the original, and the original is available to rent on Amazon Prime for $3 right now. So, anyway, sans good reviews or any real buzz, the film grossed $6.7 million over the weekend, an admittedly strong weekend 3x multiplier.
Sony is only on the hook for around 75% of the film’s $19m budget, but this is still not a good look for the studio. Once again, one cannot survive on Spider-Man alone, so fingers crossed for Only the Brave, Denzel Washington’s Roman J. Israel Esq, The Star and Jumanji.
There were two blink-and-you-miss-them newbies this weekend as well. Newbie distributor Novus opened Til Death Do Us Part in 550 theaters this weekend. The Chris Stokes (You Got Served) thriller, starring Jessica Vanessa DeLeon, Taye Diggs and Stephen Bishop, is a loose variation on Julia Roberts’ Sleeping with the Enemy.
Had it done better this weekend, I could have opined about the value of the rip-off versus the remake. It earned $1.533 million for the weekend, again with an oddly strong 3.3x weekend multiplier. Still, there is a case to be made that, relatively speaking, the remake was no more successful than the loose rip-off, with the difference being that folks might actually discover Til Death Do Us Part in the years to come while most folks will opt for the original Flatliners.
Pureflix’s faith-based film A Question of Faith opened in 661 theaters and grossed $1 million for the weekend.
By Scott Mendelson