By Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter
Lasse Hallstrom’s A Dog’s Purpose came in behind expectations with a debut of $18.3 million from 3,058 theaters at the North American box office after being dogged by controversy over a leaked video showing a dog in distress on the set of the film.
M. Night Shyamalan’s sleeper hit Split fell a scant 36 percent in its second weekend to $26.3 million for a domestic total of $78 million. The horror film easily stayed No. 1 for Blumhouse and Universal.
While it’s true that Dog’s Purpose came in ahead of many canine-themed movies, it had been tracking to open in the $24 million range before the video was published by TMZ, prompting calls of a boycott from PETA. Financially, the movie’s opening is solid, considering it cost a net $22 million to make. And an A CinemaScore could prompt strong word of mouth among pet lovers of all ages.
Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media partnered on A Dog’s Purpose, with Universal handling distribution and marketing via its deal with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin. The filmmakers and production companies, along with producer Gavin Polone, have said the video was highly edited and dispute allegations of abuse.
Box-office observers believe Dog’s Purpose, rated PG, was hurt by the video, noting that major markets including New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. under-indexed. The movie, appealing to pet lovers of all ages, earned an A CinemaScore, fueling hopes for strong word of mouth.
A number of films scoring top Oscar nominations on Jan. 24 saw a bump, led by best picture contenders Hidden Figures and La La Land, both of which jumped the $100 million mark in North America over the weekend.
Hidden Figures, from Fox 2000 and Chernin Entertainment, came in No. 3 in its sixth weekend with roughly $14 million from 3,351 theaters for a domestic total of $104 million.
Sony and Screen Gems’ new entry Resident Evil: The Final Chapter followed at No. 4 with a projected $13.8 million from 3,104 theaters. The sixth installment in the franchise expects to do the majority of its business overseas, where it won the weekend with $28.3 million for a foreign total of $64.5 million and global cume of $78.3 million. (It opened offshore ahead of its domestic bow.)
Rounding out the top five was La La Land, which upped its theater count from 1,800 theaters to 3,136 after scoring a record-tying 14 Oscar noms. The Lionsgate musical earned $12 .1million for a North American haul of $106.5 million. Overseas, it earned another $23.4 million from 73 markets for a foreign tally of $117.1 million and dazzling global showing of $223.5 million.
Highlights included a French launch of $3.9 million and screen average of $9,450, the best showing for a musical in 40 years, according to Lionsgate. Among holdover territories, the U.K. leads with $25.6 million, followed by South Korea ($22.3 million).
Placing No. 10 in its North American debut, Stephen Gaghan’s Gold bombed with $3.4 million from 2,166 theaters, marking the worst wide opening of Matthew McConaughey’s career (that doesn’t count My Boyfriend’s Back, in which he played a minor role).
Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell and Craig T. Nelson co-star in Gold, which The Weinstein Co. originally planned to open Christmas Day before pushing its release.
A bright spot for TWC was best-picture contender Lion, which took in a hearty $2.4 million from only 575 theaters following Oscar nominations. Lion has earned $19.8 million to date.