The Men in Black organization is perhaps the most secretive in the world. No one knows who these men (and women) in black are or, really, who they work for. Its headquarters are better hidden than Kim Kardashian’s moments of introspection. And should anyone get too close to them, zap! An agent will whip out their handy-dandy neuralyzer and wipe away their most recent memories. Frankly, there’s some doubt as to whether the Men in Black exist at all.
So for the organization itself, perhaps it’s a good thing that Men in Black: International did so poorly at the box office.
Oh, sure, the latest MiB film did indeed win the weekend. But it did so with a mere $28.5 million in North America—about $20 million less than any previous franchise entry. (And keep in mind, the previous installment, Men in Black 3, was released way back in 2012, when tickets cost a quarter. At least that’s what Grandma says.) International fittingly did a bit better overseas, beaming up another $73.7 million. Still, MiB’s latest cinematic rocket ship is seriously sputtering.
Last weekend, I mentioned potential sequel fatigue as a reason for the sagging box office as of late, and I do wonder whether that’s indeed playing a role. Some sequels do boffo numbers, of course, which is why movie studios rely on them so much. Economically, it makes more sense to make a sequel or reboot of a beloved franchise than risk a new, unfamiliar story. But consider: Of this weekend’s top eight movies, seven are sequels, remakes or franchise installements. The last truly original film to win a box-office weekend was Us way back in March. It’s one thing to make the occasional sequel; it’s another to make nothing but them. I wonder if audiences are hankering for something new.
Of course, there’s another possibility: We all actually did see MiB: International and we, along with all the folks charged with tabulating ticket sales, have been neuralized.
Last week’s champ, The Secret Life of Pets 2, dug up another $23.8 million for second place, pushing its total gross to about $92 million. Disney’s live-action Aladdin held strong at No. 3, stuffing another $16.7 million into its lamp. Genie et al. have now earned a grand total of $263.4 million—or $724.8 million if you add Aladdin’s international grosses to the party. And it’s not done yet. Clearly, this is a film that can go Jafar.
Dark Phoenix continued to smolder in our weekly countdown, finishing fourth with about $9 million. Rocketman, the only original flick in the top five, held onto fifth place with $8.8 million. That helped spoil the debut of Shaft, which you could say got the shaft itself. It landed with a thud in sixth place with $8.3 million.