‘The Upside’ — a leftover from Harvey Weinstein’s defunct company — is a big win for Kevin Hart and STXfilms; ‘Replicas’ marks a career worst for Keanu Reeves.
Kevin Hart may not be hosting the Oscars this year, but he’s proven his power at the box office once again with the better-than-expected launch of The Upside, co-starring Bryan Cranston.
The long-delayed dramedy — one of the last films made by Harvey Weinstein before the mogul’s demise — beat Aquaman with $19.6 million in a surprise victory. Heading into the weekend, tracking showed it opening to no more than $9 million-$12 million domestically.
The Upside is also a win for STXfilms, which partnered with Lantern Entertainment — which bought the assets of The Weinstein Co. — to distribute and market the movie. It’s the first time a title from STX has opened at No. 1, as well as marking the second-biggest debut for STX behind Bad Moms ($23.8 million).
Playing to an ethnically diverse audience, The Upside hits theaters following the high-profile drama over whether or not Hart would host the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony after the actor’s past homophobic comments resurfaced.
It was hardly the only controversy surrounding the film, about a quadriplegic billionaire who hires an ex-con to care for him. The Upside, costing about $35 million to produce before marketing, staged its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival but saw its March 2018 release shelved weeks later following Weinstein’s downfall.
STX worked with director Neil Burger to recut the film — a remake of the 2011 French blockbuster The Intouchables — so that it could go out with a PG-13 rating, versus an R. The Upside earned an A CinemaScore and strong exits, making up for withering reviews. Nicole Kidman also stars.
Females (59 percent) turned out in force, while 48 percent of ticket buyers were Caucasian, followed by African-Americans (23 percent), Hispanics (19 percent) and Asian/Other (10 percent), according to PostTrak. The Upside fared best in the West and South, as well as posting strong numbers in the Midwest.
The mighty Aquaman followed at No. 2 in its fourth weekend with $17.3 million for a domestic total of $288 million. The Warner Bros.’ tentpole celebrated a major milestone on Saturday as it jumped the $1 billion mark in worldwide ticket sales, becoming the first DC superhero pic to join the billion-dollar club since The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 and only the fifth Warners release ever to do so, not adjusted for inflation.
Sony’s A Dog’s Way Home opened in third place with $11.3 million, in line with expectations.
The family-friendly film chronicles the adventures of a dog — voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard — who travels 400 miles to find her owner. Ashley Judd and Edward James Olmos co-star. The film, receiving an A- CinemaScore, isn’t a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose; that honor belongs to A Dog’s Journey, which is set for a May 17 release. All three films are based on books by W. Bruce Cameron.
The weekend’s third new offering, the sci-fi thriller Replicas, bombed with $2.5 million to mark the worst wide start of Keanu Reeves’ career. The Entertainment Studios release was slapped with a C CinemaScore after getting skewered by critics.
In other action, Focus Features’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones as a young Ginsburg, fared nicely as it expanded nationwide. The Mimi Leder-directed film placed No. 8 with $6.2 million from 1,923 cinemas for a domestic total of $10.6 million.
Annapurna and Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk also expanded nationwide, earning $2.4 million from 1,334 cinemas for a domestic total of $7.7 million. The drama is counting on an Oscar nomination to boost its box-office run.
Ditto for Annapurna’s Vice, filmmaker Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale. Vice placed No. 10 with $3.3 million for a North American cume of $35.9 million against a production budget of $60 million.
Among top victors at last weekend’s Golden Globes ceremony, best drama winner Bohemian Rhapsody saw an uptick as it offered special sing-along screenings. The Queen biopic earned $3.2 million fom 1,334 theaters for a North American total of nearly $200 million ($198.5 million).
Green Book, which was dogged by more controversy following its Globes win for best comedy or musical, earned an estimated $2.1 million for a domestic total of $38.6 million. The film is waiting to expand in a major way until after Oscar noms.