‘The Meg’ devours the weekend box office to knock off ‘Mission: Impossible’

If any film was going to take a bite out of the ticket sales for Mission: Impossible — Fallout, it seems fitting that it’s the one with the gigantic prehistoric shark.

Killer-shark movie The Meg ended the two-week reign of Mission: Impossible at the top of the box office, surprising Hollywood analysts with an impressive $44.5 million premiere in U.S. theaters and more than $141.5 worldwide. The film, which follows a group of characters attempting to stop a giant shark’s path of destruction, wildly outperformed expectations over the weekend and ended up giving Warner Bros. Pictures its biggest opening weekend of the year — beating Ready Player One and Ocean’s 8.

The Meg is a co-production between U.S. and Chinese studios, and its premiere sets a new opening-weekend record for live-action shark movies. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that The Meg didn’t actually do all that bad critically, either.

The giant-shark thriller was marketed as a fun, somewhat funny adventure, and audiences seemed to buy into the ridiculousness of it, giving The Meg a decent B+ grade. Critics were similarly tolerant of it, and the film currently has a 49-percent positive review rating. All of this suggests that The Meg will indeed keep swimming in theaters both in the U.S. and internationally for a while.

# Title  Weekend    U.S. Total   Worldwide Total 
1. The Meg $44.5M $44.5M $141.5M
2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout  $20M $161.9M $437.5M
3. Christopher Robin $12.4M $50M $62.1M
4. Slender Man $11.3M $11.3M $11.3M
5. BlacKkKlansman $10.7M $10.7M $11.1M
6. The Spy Who Dumped Me  $6.6M $24.5M $26.2M
7. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again  $5.8M $103.8M $280.8M
8. The Equalizer 2 $5.5M $89.6M $99.8M
9. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation  $5.1M $146.8M $378.2M
10. Ant-Man and the Wasp  $4M $203.5M $448.9M

As for the weekend’s other new releases, Slender Man — a horror movie based on an internet meme — was savaged by professional critics and audiences alike, but managed to cover its $10 million production costs with an $11.3 million debut. The film’s reviews indicate that it won’t be sticking around all that long, so it will need to make money as quickly as possible early on.

On the flip side, Spike Lee’s new film BlackKklansman earned extremely high praise from critics and ticket-buying audience members. The film’s based-on-a-true-story tale of two Colorado police officers — one African-American and one Jewish — who infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan received an A- grade from audiences and an elite 97-percent positive review rating, with many calling it one of Lee’s best films. The movie was only shown in just over 1,500 theaters, and yet it still managed to rank fifth among the weekend’s highest-grossing films.

The rest of the weekend’s top films were all returning movies, so the upcoming week could be an interesting one in theaters, given the lack of high-profile releases.

Hitting theaters this upcoming week is the critically praised romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, as well as action thriller Mile 22. The two films aren’t expected to challenge the top of the box office, but Crazy Rich Asians has some pundits expecting big things, so anything could happen.

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