‘Death on the Nile’ Takes Top Box Office Spot With Just $12.8 Million Opening

Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot adaptation beats Jennifer Lopez romcom “Marry Me” at Super Bowl box office

kenneth branagh death on the nile poirot
20th Century Studios

20th Century Studios’ “Death on the Nile” has taken the top spot at the box office this weekend with an opening of just $12.8 million from 3,280 theaters and a global opening of $33.5 million.

While that result is consistent with the $11-13 million projections for the Agatha Christie adaptation from Kenneth Branagh, they are also less than half of the $28.6 million opening earned in 2018 by its predecessor, “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Tracking was so low for the murder mystery because “Orient Express” had an opening weekend audience that was heavily skewed towards audiences over the age of 50; an age demographic that has shown up far less often since the pandemic began, not to mention the usual slowdown in theater turnout that comes on Super Bowl weekend.

Reception for “Nile” has been somewhat positive with a 66% Rotten Tomatoes score and a B on CinemaScore. But with a reported $90 million production budget, its core demographic staying home and blockbusters like “Uncharted” coming to appeal to younger audiences, the film is looking like it will join the likes of “The Last Duel” and “West Side Story” among the recent 20th Century flops unless it finds a way to leg out in overseas territories.

Also opening this weekend is the Universal romantic comedy “Marry Me” starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson and holding a $23 million production budget. Released both in theaters and for paid subscribers on Peacock, the film opened to $8 million from 3,642 theaters along with $8.5 million overseas. On the domestic charts, it sits in third behind Paramount’s “Jackass Forever,” which slips into the No. 2 spot with $8.3 million in its second weekend and a $37.4 million running total.

Universal is hoping that women, particularly older ones, will help give “Marry Me” a bump on Valentine’s Day on Monday, whether it is through buying tickets or subscribing to Peacock. Theatrical demographic data says that the film’s audience this weekend is 46% over 35 and 67% female, showing that the film is reaching its target audience but not to the same level as a romance film like “The Photograph,” which opened to $12 million in February 2020 just before the pandemic hit. Reception scores are 59% critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on CinemaScore.

In fourth is Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which on Monday will pass the $760 million North American total of “Avatar” for No. 3 on the all-time domestic charts. The Marvel film added $7.1 million in its ninth weekend.

Completing the top five is Liam Neeson’s latest action film, “Blacklight,” which grossed just $3.7 million from 2,722 theaters. While a weak result, it is consistent with “The Marksman” and “Honest Thief,” two other Neeson action films that have released during the pandemic with an opening in the $3-4 million range. Briarcliff Entertainment handled distribution for the film, which was panned by critics with a 6% Rotten Tomatoes score while scoring 67% with audiences.