In an unexpected upset, How to Be a Latin Lover and Indian film Baahubali: The Connection both beat Emma Watson's new high-tech thriller The Circle at the North American box office on the last quiet weekend before the summer season kicks off.
Overall, Universal's The Fate of the Furious stayed atop the chart in its third weekend with $19.4 million from 4,077 theaters for a domestic total of $192.7 million. Globally, the eighth outing in the action series gunned past the $1 billion mark after clearing a massive $867.6 million offshore, including a record-breaking $361 million in China.
How to be a Latin Lover followed in the U.S. with $12 million from only 1,000 locations, well ahead of expectations and marking the biggest opening to date for Pantelion Films, a label devoted to movies targeting Hispanic audiences. Lionsgate and Televisa own Pantelion.
The comedy - made available in both English and Spanish - stars popular Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included) and Salma Hayek. The story revolves around a lothario who is finally dumped after 25 years of marriage and must move in with his estranged sister. Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Raphael Alejandro, Raquel Welch and Rob Riggle also star. Nearly 90 percent of ticket buyers were Hispanic.
"We positioned the movie knowing Eugenio is huge star," says Lionsgate distribution chief David Spitz.
If you deliver the content, the audience will show up. He has established himself as a big star. In May, going into production on a remake of Overboard, MGM. We want to be in the ED busienss.
How to Be a Latin Lover wasn't the only film going after a specific audience that overperformed. Baahubali placed No. 3 with $10.1 million from a mere 450 theaters. That's the top launch ever for an Indian film in the U.S. A run in 45 Imax films paid off, generating $1.8 million, an Imax record for a foreign-language film.
Baahubali, which also opened in India this weekend and is a follow up to the 2015 blockbuster, puts the spotlight on the South Indian industry, which is often overshadowed by Hindi-language Bollywood. The sequel continues the story of warring royal cousins in an ancient mythical kingdom, and stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Tamannah and Anushka Shetty.
No one expected either Baahubali or How to Be a Latin Lover to do laps around The Circle, which stars Watson - who is coming off the blockbuster success of Beauty and the Beast - alongside Tom Hanks.
Directed by James Ponsoldt, The Circle came in No. 4 with $9.3 million from 3,163 theaters after getting skewered by critics and audiences, who gave the film a rare D+ CinemaScore. Heading into the weekend, EuropaCorp and STX Entertainment were hoping for $12 million.
The Circle, about invasion of privacy in the Internet age, is set in the near future at a high-tech company where a new employee (Watson) uncovers a dark agenda that will affect the lives of her friends, family and society at large. EuropaCorp acquired the project, based on Dave Eggers' novel, for $8 million from producers Parkes+MacDonald and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, with STX handling domestic distribution duties.
John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt and the late Bill Paxton also star in the $18 million film.
Elsewhere, Blumhouse's genre label BH Tilt released Sleight, a thriller about a street magician that opened to a $1.7 million from 500 theaters. The film, which made its debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, revolves around a young street magician who must use his wits and tricks to save his sister from kidnappers. It's helmed by J.D. Dillard.
The big headline overseas this weekend was Marvel and Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which grossed $101 million from its first 37 markets, 57 percent ahead of the first film when comparing the same suite of territories.
The U.K. led with $15.5 million, the second-biggest number of the year after Beauty and the Beast. It also prospered in Australia ($11.6 million), followed by Germany ($8.3 million), France ($7.9 million), Mexico ($7.6 million), Brazil ($6.9 million), Italy ($4.1 million) and Indonesia ($3.4 million).
Guardians Vol. 2 doesn't land in the U.S. until May 5 and has a bevy of other major markets left to open, including China, South Korea and Russia.