I don’t envy the life of your average Hollywood studio executive.
Oh, sure, I suppose the mansion in Malibu with a Lamborghini in the drive would be nice. Maybe that part. But when it comes to trying to figure out which movie properties from the past might still have traction? It’s like throwing a dart with a blindfold on. The cinematic road is littered with the smoking remains of rebooted and reimagined franchises that crashed and burned in 2019. (I’m looking at you Terminator: Dark Fate, Charlie’s Angels and Cats.)
Which brings us to this weekend’s results. You might have thought that audiences were tired of Will Smith. After all, his Smith v. Smith actioner Gemini badly underperformed last year. And you might have thought that Robert Downey Jr.’s presence in Dolittle would have made that flick an iron-clad lock for a big opening weekend.
And … you’d be wrong on both counts.
Will Smith’s reunion with Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys for Life vastly exceeded industry experts’ expectations. Over the traditional three-day weekend, this reboot took in an estimated $59.2 million domestically, with another $9 mil or so expected for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Turns out bad is still good for Smith and Lawrence in a film that had some surprising spiritual elements, as well as a whole lotta content that Plugged In would still slot into various “bad” categories.
As for Robert Downey Jr.’s critically savaged take on a doctor who can talk to animals, well, let’s just say not even Tony Stark had the technical ability to rescue this relaunch. Dolittle made an estimated $22.5 million (with another $7.5 million expected on Monday), a figure that some are saying bested modest expectations while others are labeling a “dud” (factoring in a lukewarm international box office) given the film’s reported $175 million production budget. Either way you look at it, it’s probably safe to say that Downey won’t be back to talk to any more animals in his much-mocked Scottish brogue in Dolittle 2.
Crossing the line at No. 3 this week was Sam Mendes’ critically hailed (and Oscar nominated) World War 1 drama 1917, with an estimated $27 million over the four-day holiday. At No. 4, Jumanji: The Next Level managed to conjure another $12.6 million. And Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker rounds out the top five with $10.6 million, putting its domestic cume just shy of $500 million.