Kevin Hart’s ‘The Upside’ unseats ‘Aquaman’ in $19.6M debut
NEW YORK >> Kevin Hart isn’t hosting the Oscars, but he’s got a number one movie. “The Upside,” starring Hart and Bryan Cranston, surpassed expectations to open with $19.6 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The strong performance of “The Upside” pushed “Aquaman” to second after the aquatic superhero’s threeweek reign atop the North American box office. Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” still passed $1 billion worldwide over the weekend, becoming the first DC Comics release to reach that mark since 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“The Upside” opened on the heels of several weeks of Oscar drama surrounding Hart. The comedian last month withdrew from hosting the Academy Awards , just days after being named emcee, when he initially refused to apologize for years-old homophobic tweets.
On the publicity trail for “The Upside,” Hart repeatedly dismissed the Oscar controversy, saying he was “over it,” while flirting with the possibility of returning as Oscar host — something for which talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, in particular, advocated.
Whether all that attention helped raise the profile of “The Upside,” a remake of the 2012 French comedy “The Intouchables,” was difficult to extrapolate, though it surely didn’t hurt. Ticket sales were almost twice industry forecasts. The film received poor reviews (40 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and was slammed by some critics for trading on the kind of gay panic humor that Hart was forced to apologize for.
Neil Burger’s film, which cost about $35 million to make, stars Hart as an ex-con who becomes a caretaker for a physically disabled author (Cranston). It was originally to be distributed by the Weinstein Co. Harvey Weinstein premiered the film at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival just weeks before the many allegations of sexual