As is often the case with January, it was a relatively slow month at the North American box office. Long regarded as a dumping ground for movies that studios had simply given up on, who could have expected that M. Night Shyamalan of all people would be the one to resuscitate this moribund time of year.
Welcome to Winners and Losers: a new monthly feature where we look back at the past four weeks to decide which new releases proved their worth and which ended up being dead weight. Pass the scalpel, this autopsy is about to begin.
1. Glass // Universal
Hit of the Month
After a number of years where he churned out flop after flop, M. Night Shyamalan is once again a hot commodity. While the critical reception to Glass has been on the negative side of mixed, that couldn’t stop this trilogy closer from bringing in big business.
The film opened at number one with a $40.3 million opening weekend, a figure almost exactly the same as what Split brought in back in 2017. Some industry commentators deemed this a slight disappointment given the ambitious $60 million that was initially predicted, with the negative reviews no doubt playing a role in taking Glass down a peg.
Nonetheless, in an uncompetitive month the film was still easily able to lay claim to our January crown. Glass had a second week drop of 52 per cent, not spectacular but nor is it disastrous, with its current global total up to $162 million. On a mere $20 million budget, the film is a clear-cut success even if it doesn’t quite match the gross of its predecessor.
2. Escape Room // Sony
Sony took advantage of a sparse release schedule in the first two weeks of January, releasing both Escape Room and A Dog’s Way Home to relatively good business. The former, a horror movie starring fan-favourite actors Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine, came out on top with a $76 million worldwide gross on a tiny $9 million budget. It’s likely to have a couple more weeks left in the tank as well, having been blessed with some gentle drops throughout the month.
3. The Upside // STX
The industry was uncertain just how this Kevin Hart flick would fare given the comedian’s recent Twitter controversy, in addition to Bryan Cranston’s criticism for taking on a role that could have been played by a disabled actor. Ultimately, the film over-performed, delivering the second highest opening weekend yet for distributor STX (just over $20 million). It’s not Hart’s best result by quite a margin, but thanks to miniscule drops in the film’s second and third week, The Upside is shaping up to be a solid earner for Sony Pictures.
4. Serenity // Aviron
This thriller from writer-director Steven Knight got ripped to shreds by critics upon release last weekend, debuting at number eight with less than $5 million to its name. To add insult to injury, the film was also slapped with a D+ CinemaScore, the damning grade determined by audience polls suggests Serenity will be on the receiving end of some toxic word of mouth. It’s an embarrassing result for stars Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey, the latter responsible for a string of clunkers since his 2014 Oscar win (see: The Free State of Jones, Gold and The Dark Tower).
5. Replicas // Entertainment Studios
Flop of the Month
While the surprisingly successful John Wick movies have revitalised Keanu Reeves’ once-ailing career, Replicas suggests that he isn’t out of the woods just yet. The sci-fi thriller was critically mauled in a similar fashion to Serenity but fared even worse at the box office, debuting outside the top ten and dropping a huge 81 per cent in just its second weekend. It’s bad news for newbie distributor Entertainment Studios, who haven’t had a hit since 2017’s 47 Metres Down. With a $30 million production budget attached to Replicas and a mere $7 million recouped so far, the film looks set to be the first major flop of 2019.