‘Lego Movie 2’ wins the box office amid slow start for 2019

As expected, animated sequel The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part managed to win the weekend box office, topping a crowded field of new releases. It was a bit of a hollow victory, though, as the year continued to be a disappointing one so far for the movie industry.

The sequel to 2014’s The Lego MovieLego Movie 2 failed to attract the sort of audiences that made its predecessor the fifth highest-grossing film of that year, despite earning positive reviews from professional critics. The film received a respectable 84-percent positive review rating, and was expected to have a premiere closer to $50-55 million.

Of the four films in the Lego franchise so far — which also includes 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie and that same year’s The Lego Ninjago Movie — Lego Movie 2 only had the third best premiere, debuting to just $34.4 million in ticket sales. It lagged behind both its predecessor and Lego Batman Movie, which had opening weekends of $69 million and $53 million, respectively.

# Title  Weekend    U.S. Total 
1. The Lego Movie 2: the Second Part  $34.4M $34.4M
2. What Men Want $19M $19M
3. Cold Pursuit $10.8M $10.8M
4. The Upside $7.2M $85.8M
5. Glass $6.4M $98.4M
6. The Prodigy $6M $6M
7. Green Book $3.5M $61.5M
8. Aquaman $3.3M $328.5M
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse $3M $179.8M
10. Miss Bala $2.7M $11.8M

Three more new releases managed to crack the weekend’s top ten films, with gender-bent comedy What Men Want — a remake of the 2000 comedy What Women Want — coming in second. Despite earning so-so, 47-percent positive reviews, the film finished with a respectable $19 million premiere, which has it almost covering its $20 million price tag in just one weekend.

In third place was the Liam Neeson action thriller Cold Pursuit, which arrived in theaters clouded by controversy due to some comments made by Neeson during the film’s early promotional cycle. It received good reviews from critics, but Cold Pursuit could only manage a $10.8 million premiere — one of the worst opening weekends for any of Neeson’s films since Taken.

The only other new release to squeeze into the weekend’s ten highest-grossing films was The Prodigy. The horror film didn’t waste any time covering its $6 million budget, earning $6 million in its opening weekend. It’s off to a good start, despite receiving the usual lukewarm reviews that horror films tend to get.

Overall, 2019 is shaping up to be a bit of a downer for the domestic box office, with U.S. theaters’ ticket sales reportedly off last year’s record-breaking numbers by approximately 15 percent. Whether it’s a case of cinema fatigue, the continued rise of streaming offerings, or a function of the tumultuous U.S. economy is anyone’s guess, but audiences simply aren’t turning out this year at the same rate they did in 2018.

Of course, that could all turn around when Disney’s two juggernauts hit theaters this year, with Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode IX both expected to blow up the 2019 box office.

This upcoming week’s biggest release is Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s sci-fi action film Alita: Battle Angel, but the top-ten rankings could also get shaken up by some of the other, lower-profile films debuting in theaters. Among the contenders is the comedy Isn’t It Romantic, as well as the horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U and the professional wrestling comedy Fighting With My Family.

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