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‘The Upside’ Poised to Become STX’s First No. 1 Box Office Hit

Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart comedy beats expectations

STX/Lantern Entertainment’s “The Upside” is turning out to be the first big surprise of the 2019 box office. After grossing just under $7 million on its opening day from 3,080 screens, the Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart comedy is now projected for a $19.5 million opening, topping a fourth weekend “Aquaman” to take the top spot on the charts.

If this result holds, it will be the first STX release ever to open at No. 1, and will be the second-highest opening in studio history behind “Bad Moms,” which opened at No. 3 to $23.8 million in July 2016.

“The Upside” wasn’t even on STX’s slate until five months ago, when the studio struck a distribution deal with Lantern to release the film. Lantern Entertainment is a new company formed by Lantern Capital from the assets bought from The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy. TWC had originally been set to release “The Upside” last year, but the release was postponed following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

In STX’s hands, the film was recut with director Neil Burger to earn a rating change from R to PG-13. That move has paid off as a wider audience has given the film an A on CinemaScore, even as critics have given it a 39 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Aquaman” takes second this weekend with $15 million, a total that would push its domestic cume to $286 million. In third is Columbia Pictures’ “A Dog’s Way Home,” which is performing slightly above tracker expectations with $3.2 million grossed on Friday from 3,090 screens, with estimates now projecting an $11 million opening. The family film has earned a solid reception with an A- on CinemaScore and a 61 percent RT score.

Sony will also complete the top five with their horror film “Escape Room,” which is projected to drop 54 percent to an $8.4 million second weekend, and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which is approaching $150 million domestic after adding $8 million in its fifth weekend.

Outside the top five, Focus Features’ “On the Basis of Sex” expanded nationwide to 1,923 screens and is currently estimated to make $6.5 million this weekend, tying it for sixth on the charts with “Mary Poppins Returns,” which will hit $150 million domestic this weekend. Outside the top ten is Entertainment Studios’ “Replicas,” which is bombing hard with an estimated opening of just $2.4 million from 2,329 screens, the worst wide opening ever for lead star Keanu Reeves. The film has a C on CinemaScore and a 9 percent RT score.