‘Men In Black: International’ Leads Box Office, But Sequels Keep Slumping

“MIB” spinoff and “Shaft” open below expectations while “Dark Phoenix” continues to crash

Men in Black International
Sony Pictures

The trend of slumping sequels has continued at the box office this weekend, as Sony’s “Men In Black: International” and Warner Bros.’ “Shaft” are currently projected to open below tracker expectations.

“MIB: International” will take the No. 1 spot this weekend, but after grossing $10.4 million on Friday from 4,224 locations, the spinoff starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson is now projected to gross $26 million on its opening weekend, behind the $30 million projection set by Sony and the $35-40 million projected by analysts. By comparison, all three of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ “MIB” films opened to roughly double that figure, with 2012’s “Men In Black 3” opening to a $54.5 million three-day launch on Memorial Day weekend.

The good news for Sony is that it is not entirely on the hook for the film’s $110 million budget, as the studio co-financed the film with Tencent and Hemisphere. Still, this spinoff will need strong overseas results to keep it out of the red, and that might not happen with “Toy Story 4” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” looming. Word of mouth isn’t helping either, with critics giving it 24% on Rotten Tomatoes while audiences are only mildly positive with a B on CinemaScore and a 3/5 on Postrak.

Other weak results this weekend include “Shaft,” which was projected for an $18-20 million opening by trackers but is now looking at a $7.3 million opening from 2,952 screens, and a finish outside the top five this weekend. Like “MIB: International,” “Shaft” was co-financed as Netflix shared the film’s $30 million budget in exchange for overseas streaming distribution rights.

While critics were generally negative with a 34% Rotten Tomatoes score, the primarily African-American opening night audience gave the film a solid A on CinemaScore, which could lead to decent word of mouth among African-American moviegoers. Between its relatively low cost and possible cult following, “Shaft” could at least break even.

Below “MIB: International,” Universal/Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2” sits in a close second with an estimated $23 million in its second weekend, a 51% drop from its $46.6 million opening. Disney’s “Aladdin” continues to hold better than expected thanks to the underperforming competition, taking $17.6 million in its fourth weekend as it passes $250 million domestic.

Fox/Disney’s “Dark Phoenix,” which after posting the lowest opening weekend in “X-Men” franchise history, is now estimated to suffer a 74% drop in its second weekend. Industry estimates currently have the film fourth with an $8.6 million second weekend, but it could lose that spot to Paramount’s “Rocketman,” which is sitting just behind with an estimated $8.5 million in its third weekend.

Further down the charts in ninth is Amazon Studios/30WEST’s “Late Night,” which earned a $4.45 million opening from 2,218 screens after opening in Los Angeles and New York last weekend. The film has a B+ on CinemaScore and 80% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.