‘Bad Boys for Life’ Shows How Important MLK Weekend Is for the Box Office

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It may not be as big as Memorial Day for theatrical business, but the box office can suffer if the January holiday doesn’t deliver

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Sony Pictures

“Bad Boys for Life,” the long-awaited threequel to “Bad Boys,” beat all pre-release projections and earned a 4-day opening of $68 million. The Sony film’s gross is second only to the $107 million launch of “American Sniper” in the history of MLK weekend openings. Combined with $25 million-plus contributions from “Dolittle” and “1917,” estimated overall grosses for the weekend sit at $197 million. When it comes to extended holiday weekends, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday may not be as big a driver of box office revenue as Memorial Day or Thanksgiving weekend. But the success of “Bad Boys for Life” — and last year’s first-quarter struggles — show how a weak MLK weekend can leave the box office struggling for weeks. This weekend’s box office might not be as big as the $225 million to $300 million-plus heights that Memorial Day weekend regularly reaches, but that is still 21% ahead of the $162 million total that the same weekend grossed in 2019.