By Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter
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.
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 after clearing a massive $867.6 million offshore, including a record-breaking $361 million in China.
Fate of the Furious is in rarefied air, becoming the fourth title in the history of the 105-year-old Universal to achieve the milestone after Jurassic World ($1.67 billion), Furious 7 ($1.52 billion) and Illumination’s Minions ($1.16 billion).
Through Sunday, the eighth outing in the Fast and Furious series has earned $192.7 million domestically and a massive $867.6 million overseas, where it has shattered numerous records (international grosses account for a whopping 82 percent of the bottom line). China leads with $361 million, the top showing of all time for an imported film (Furious 7 was the previous record-holder.)
So far, Fate of the Furious is the 30th film to earn $1 billion or more globally, and the second movie of 2016 to achieve the milestone after Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which has grossed north of $1.1 billion to date.
Fate of the Furious is also the highest-grossing film directed by an African-American director.
How to Be a Latin Lover followed 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) opposite Salma Hayek. The story revolves around a lothoria 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.
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.
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 from $12 million.
The Circle 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 friends, family and society at large. EuropaCorp acquired the project 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.
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 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which opened in 37 markets a week ahead of landing in North America. The sequel took in $101 million, 57 percent ahead of the first film when comparing the same suite of territories.