Universal’s “Good Boys” has done something that is becoming increasingly rare with its $21 million No. 1 opening at the box office. Not only is it the first original R-rated comedy in three years to top the box office charts, it is also only the second original film of any kind to open at No. 1 this year.
“Good Boys” was positioned by Universal to take advantage of this quieter August period after Spider-Man, Simba and Thanos have taken their share of summer moviegoers’ money. But Universal has also become a studio that has consistently found success with comedy at a time when so many titles in the genre have failed.
While a “Hangover”-level hit remains elusive, “Good Boys” joins films like “Night School,” “Ride Along 2” and the $115 million-grossing “Girls Trip” as Universal mid-budget comedies that have turned a profit in the last three years.
Beyond comedies, Universal’s strong August continued with “Hobbs & Shaw,” which came second this weekend with $14 million, bringing its domestic total to $133 million. The film also opened in Korea and earned the highest opening day total for the “Fast & Furious” franchise, giving it a $436 million global gross total as it gets ready to open in China next weekend.
With these results, Universal has now passed $1 billion in domestic grosses this year, holding a market share of approximately 13%. While Disney’s total dwarfs that figure, Universal stands alongside Disney as the only studio with six films that opened No. 1 in 2019.
It is also the studio that has released the only two original No. 1 films this year: Jordan Peele’s “Us” and now “Good Boys.” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” has the second highest opening weekend for an original film this year with $41 million, but opened No. 2 behind “The Lion King” last month.
Unfortunately, the good news doesn’t extend to the rest of this weekend’s new releases. Four other newcomers were beaten on the charts by “The Lion King,” which is approaching $500 million domestic and $1 billion overseas, having earned just under $12 million in its sixth weekend in North America. Also in the Top 5 is Lionsgate/CBS Films’ “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” which earned $10 million in its second weekend, a decent 52% drop that gives it a $40 million 10-day total.
In a virtual tie with “Scary Stories” is Sony’s “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” which opened on Tuesday to take advantage of families that haven’t gone back to school yet, but has only earned $10.7 million this weekend and a 6-day opening of $16.2 million from 3,869 theaters against a $65 million budget.
While that total meets studio projections, it is still well below the $38 million 3-day opening of the first “Angry Birds Movie” in May 2016 despite having better reviews with a 76% Rotten Tomatoes score and a 4/5 on Postrak.
On the bright side for Sony, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is continuing to leg out well with $7.6 million in its fourth weekend and a $114 million domestic total, while “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is now the studio’s highest grossing film ever with over $1.1 billion grossed worldwide, passing the record held for seven years by the 007 film “Skyfall.”
Outside the Top 5, Entertainment Studios’ “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” opened to $9 million from 2,859 screens. That result is down from the $11.2 million opening earned by the first “47 Meters Down” and received a C+ on CinemaScore to go with 50% Rotten Tomatoes score.
The biggest flops of the weekend were two adult comedies that aimed for older moviegoers than “Good Boys” did: Annapurna’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” and Warner Bros./New Line’s “Blinded by the Light.” Both films came from directors with established track records, with “Bernadette” being made by “Boyhood” director Richard Linklater and “Blinded” being made by “Bend It Like Beckham” filmmaker Gurinder Chadha.
“Bernadette” had its fate sealed by tepid critics reviews, receiving just a 43% Rotten Tomatoes score. Without the strong reviews needed to boost pre-release word-of-mouth, the film only opened to $3.5 million from 2,404 screens this weekend, continuing the struggles for Annapurna after the critically-acclaimed “Booksmart” failed to meet box office expectations earlier this summer.
“Blinded by the Light” was another story. Since its premiere at Sundance and subsequent screening at CinemaCon, Chadha’s true story dramedy about a British Pakistani teen who finds hope in Bruce Springsteen’s music has earned very strong reviews with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score and an A- on CinemaScore. But that has failed to spark the film’s fortunes, as it only opened to $4.1 million from 2,307 screens, placing 10th on the charts.
New Line and WB purchased “Blinded by the Light” at Sundance for a reported $15 million in a rare festival buy for the major studios. It’s a second straight weekend of disappointment for a New Line film with a diverse cast and crew, as “The Kitchen” also tanked this past weekend and only has a 10-day total of $10.3 million.
New Line is expected to have a big turnaround next month with “It: Chapter Two,” which is currently projected to at least match the $123 million horror record opening weekend of the first “It” from 2017.