‘Upside’ flexes muscles in surprising debut
Kevin Hart film far exceeds expectations, ending ‘Aquaman’s’ hold on the top spot.
The release of STX Entertainment’s “The Upside” has jolted a slow post-holiday box office back to life, knocking “Aquaman” from the top spot after three weekends at No. 1, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.
The film, which stars Kevin Hart as a live-in home health aide who befriends a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston), debuted in first place with $19.6 million, nearly doubling analyst predictions of $10 million.
A remake of the French film “The Intouchables,” it got an A from audiences on CinemaScore but only a 40% “rotten” rating from critics on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie’s success is surprising, in wake of Hart’s recent controversy surrounding his prospective Oscars hosting gig. The comedian dropped out after Hart’s homophobic tweets resurfaced from years prior. Despite the picture’s overall success, the result is Hart’s smallest opening since his 2016 comedy special “Kevin Hart: What Now?” opened with $11.8 million.
“We saw no evidence in the weeks leading up to the release that the general public’s enthusiasm for this film was in any way hampered by anything that was going on in the marketplace,” said Adam Fogelson, chairman of the motion picture group for STX Films. “I think the two things were entirely separate, and obviously, the results support that.”
“The Upside” represents STX Entertainment’s first No. 1 box-office opener. Its over-performance proves Hart’s huge box office draw despite a high-profile controversy. It follows the boxoffice and Golden Globe success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” despite director Bryan Singer’s fall from grace.
Also surprising is the picture’s ability to bounce back from original distributor Weinstein Co.’s bankruptcy. STX made a deal with Lantern Entertainment, the firm that bought the remnants of the embattled studio, to release the film.
“A small group of us saw the movie and believed it was a thoroughly crowdpleasing movie with spectacular performances,” Fogelson said of the decision to acquire it. “Kevin Hart is a prototype of the type of talent that we are built to service. We absolutely believed that there was significant commercial potential and that [the film] not only deserved to be seen but was likely to produce a successful outcome.”
In second place, “Aquaman” earned $17.3 million in its fourth weekend for a cumulative $287.9 million as it became the fifth movie in Warner Bros. history (and the third in DC history) to surpass $1 billion worldwide, joining the ranks of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” ($1.3 billion), “The Dark Knight Rises” ($1 billion), “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” ($1 billion) and “The Dark Knight” ($1 billion).
Sony Pictures’ “A Dog’s Way Home” opened at No. 3 with $11.3 million, above analysts’ predictions of $9 million to $10 million.
The $18-million film follows a rescue pup that travels 400 miles to be reunited with its owners. It earned mixed reviews, with an Aminus CinemaScore and a 59% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Canine movies are having a moment at the box office. Universal’s “A Dog’s Purpose” opened with $18.2 million in 2017 before going on to earn a respectable $205 million globally. The studio has already announced a sequel, “A Dog’s Journey.”
At No. 4, the studio’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” earned $9 million in its fifth weekend for a cumulative $147.8 million.
Rounding out the top five, the studio’s “Escape Room” earned $8.9 million in its second weekend for a cumulative $32.4 million.
Also new over the weekend, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures’ sci-fi thriller “Replicas” opened with $2.5 million, well under analysts’ already weak projection of $6 million. Starring Keanu Reeves, the film was universally panned, with a C rating on CinemaScore and an 11% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Focus Features’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg drama “On the Basis of Sex” opened in wide release over the weekend, earning $6.2 million in its third weekend (a cumulative $10.6 million) and landing at No. 8. It earned an A rating on CinemaScore.
Comparably, Magnolia’s “RBG” documentary, a major success of the summer, earned $14 million over the course of its domestic run. The result, which is exceptional for a documentary, shows the bankability of stories about the 85-yearold Supreme Court justice.
Also expanding, Annapurna’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” added 683 locations (for a total of 1,018) and $2.4 million in its fifth weekend for a per-screen average of $2,347 and a cumulative $7.7 million.
Golden Globes winners “Green Book,” distributed by Universal, and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” from Fox, also continue to post solid numbers deep into their theatrical runs: “Green Book” added 176 theaters (for a total of 742) and $2.1 million in its ninth weekend for a cumulative $38.5 million. “Bohemian Rhapsody” added 254 locations (for a total of 1,334) and $3.2 million in its 11th weekend for a cumulative $198.5 million.
“THE UPSIDE,” with Bryan Cranston, left, Kevin Hart, debuts at $19.6 million.