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Box office hits and misses: ‘The Great Wall’ crumbles while ‘Lego Batman’ reigns

The Great Wall
Image used with permission by copyright holder
It wasn’t an entirely wonderful weekend for The Great Wall, director Yimou Zhang’s effects-driven $150 million adventure that featured a mercenary played by Matt Damon fending off hordes of monsters from China’s legendary wall. The most expensive movie ever made in China, the film earned a mere $18 million in its U.S. debut, according to early box-office estimates.

The low numbers for The Great Wall — which placed it third among the weekend’s top movies — are offset quite a bit by its strong run overseas, which has already brought its worldwide box-office earnings over $262 million. Given that the film’s $150 million price tag doesn’t include the massive amounts of money spent on marketing and distribution in the U.S. and abroad, it will likely need a few more big weeks internationally if it’s going to make up for its relatively weak debut in the U.S.

As for the weekend’s top two films, the first- and second-place films remained the same for the second consecutive week, with the animated feature The Lego Batman Movie continuing its reign atop the box-office rankings ahead of the erotic thriller Fifty Shades Darker.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. The Lego Batman Movie $34.2M $98.7M $170.7M
2. Fifty Shades Darker $20.9M $89.6M $276.8M
3. The Great Wall $18M $18M $262.6M
4. John Wick: Chapter 2 $16.5M $58.6M $90.4M
5. Fist Fight $12M $12M $12M
6. Hidden Figures $7.1M $142.5M $163.8M
7. Split $7M $123.6M $193.1M
8. A Dog’s Purpose $5.5M $50.6M $64.5M
9. La La Land $4.5M $133.5M $339.6M
10. A Cure For Wellness $4.2M $4.2M $8.7M

Of the other new releases to crack the weekend’s top ten films, “R”-rated comedy Fist Fight earned a modest $12 million, but it only cost around $25 million to make, so it’s not prompting too much concern yet. Ice Cube and Charlie Day star in the film, which follows a teacher who gets fired from a rough school (Ice Cube), only to return and challenge another teacher (Day) to an after-school fight.

What is causing studio concern, however, is the abysmal debut for A Cure For Wellness, Gore Verbinski’s horror thriller that was savaged by professional critics and general audiences alike, and had a surprisingly low $4.2 million debut in the U.S. The film’s opening weekend is the lowest of all Verbinski’s films so far — a list that includes 2005’s Nicolas Cage drama The Weather Man and 1997’s family-friendly comedy Mouse Hunt.

It’s a disappointing start for the film, which follows a young executive (Dane DeHaan) tasked with bringing home his company’s absent CEO from a mysterious health spa, and has shifted the once-promising project firmly into “flop” territory.

This week’s new releases include a pair of thrillers with a significant amount of buzz leading up to their premieres, with writer-director Jordan Peele of Key & Peele fame bringing Get Out to theaters, while unconventional zombie movie The Girl With All The Gifts also shambles into theaters. Will either film challenge the top two films? It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened in Hollywood.

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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