‘The Upside’ unseats ‘Aquaman’ in $19.6M debut
NEW YORK — Kevin Hart isn’t hosting the Oscars, but he’s got a No. 1 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 three-week 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.
Whether all that attention helped raise the profile of The Upside, a remake of the 2012 French comedy The Intouchables, was difficult to extrapolate. Ticket sales were almost twice industry forecasts. The film received poor reviews 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 harassment surfaced against the movie mogul.
STX Entertainment picked up the movie, which on Sunday handed the five-year-old startup studio its first No. 1 release at the box office. Launched in 2014 with a mission to make the kind of mid-budgeted, star-driven films the studios have increasingly abandoned, STX has had some successes (Bad Moms, The Foreigner, the critically acclaimed
The Edge of Seventeen) but has often struggled to find breakout hits.
Last year’s The Happytime Murders, with Melissa McCarthy, was one of the most glaring flops.
Bryan Cranston, from left, Jahi Di’Allo Winston and Kevin Hart appear in a scene from The Upside.