‘The Lego Movie 2’ opens No. 1 but ev­ery­thing is not awe­some

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - KICKOFF -

“The Lego Movie 2: The Sec­ond Part” was eas­ily the top ticket-seller in the­aters over the week­end, but the film’s $35 mil­lion open­ing failed to stack up to its ex­pected haul, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

The an­i­mated se­quel had been fore­cast to draw around $50 mil­lion. In­stead, it de­buted with half the $69 mil­lion the 2014 orig­i­nal did, de­spite good re­views and an A-mi­nus Cine­maS­core.

With about a $100 mil­lion bud­get, Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2” had been pegged as a de­pend­able, star-stud­ded fran­chise re­lease sure to kick-start a mori­bund box of­fice. But af­ter record ticket sales last year, Hol­ly­wood’s 2019 has got­ten off to such a bad be­gin­ning that the movie’s tagline of “Ev­ery­thing is not awe­some” is look­ing more like ac­cu­rate in­dus­try anal­y­sis.

“The ex­pec­ta­tions were cer­tainly much higher for ‘The Lego Movie 2’ con­sid­er­ing the suc­cess of the first in­stall­ment,” said Paul Der­garabe­dian, se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for Com­score. “We were all hop­ing that this would be the week­end that got the mo­men­tum of the box of­fice go­ing in the right di­rec­tion. We’re still wait­ing.”

Ev­ery week­end this year has been down from the same week­end a year ago. That’s a streak sure to con­tinue. Next week­end, the new re­leases in­clude “Happy Death Day 2U” and “Alita: Bat­tle An­gel.” What opened the same week­end last year? “Black Pan­ther.”

“Mo­men­tum is ev­ery­thing at the box of­fice,” Der­garabe­dian said. “And we’ve sort of lost that.”

Chris Pratt, El­iz­a­beth Banks, Will Ar­nett, Will Fer­rell and oth­ers reprise their voice roles in “The Lego Movie 2,” while Tif­fany Had­dish and Maya Ru­dolph join the cast. Mike Mitchell di­rects the movie writ­ten by orig­i­nal wri­ter­di­rec­tors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Over­sat­u­ra­tion could be to blame. Since the 2014 orig­i­nal, which grossed $469 mil­lion world­wide, Warner Bros. re­leased two spinoffs: “The Lego Bat­man Movie” in 2017 and “The Lego Nin­jago Movie” later the same year.

Dis­tri­bu­tion ex­ec­u­tives for Warner Bros. de­clined to com­ment on the week­end’s re­sults.

Un­til now, 2019’s slug­gish box of­fice was partly blamed on lack of qual­ity re­leases, with only a hand­ful of highly pro­moted films from ma­jor stu­dios. This week­end saw a rel­a­tively ro­bust slate of re­leases, in­clud­ing Taraji P. Hen­son’s “What Men Want” and the Liam Nee­son thriller “Cold Pur­suit.” Both did solid if not spec­tac­u­lar busi­ness.

Para­mount’s “What Men Want,” a loose re­make of the 2000 Mel Gib­son com­edy, de­buted with $19 mil­lion. Hen­son plays a sports agent with the abil­ity to hear men’s thoughts in Adam Shankman’s film, a kind of gen­der flip from the orig­i­nal. The film got poor re­views (47 per­cent fresh on Rot­ten To­ma­toes), but au­di­ences gave it an A-mi­nus Cine­maS­core.

Lion­s­gate’s “Cold Pur­suit” de­buted with $10.8 mil­lion, a re­sult in line with ex­pec­ta­tions de­spite the con­tro­versy that sur­rounded its star in the week lead­ing up to re­lease. Nee­son drew heavy crit­i­cism af­ter he ac­knowl­edged in an in­ter­view pub­lished last Mon­day that he wanted to kill a ran­dom black per­son when a close friend told him she had been raped by a black man.

Nee­son later ap­peared on “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica” to say he’s not a racist. Or­ga­niz­ers for the New York pre­miere of “Cold Pur­suit” can­celed the film’s red car­pet.

Orion Pic­tures’ hor­ror thriller “The Prodigy” also de­buted, with $6 mil­lion.

Warner Bros. Pic­tures via the As­so­ci­ated Press

Em­met, left, and Rex Danger­vest, cen­ter, both voiced by Chris Pratt, in a scene from “The Lego Movie 2: The Sec­ond Part.”

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