LOS ANGELES – Dwayne Johnson and his gorilla buddy George might have scored the box office crown with a $34.5 million take for city-smashing action flick “Rampage” – but the weekend’s real winner knew how to speak softly and carry a big second weekend.
Falling shy of pre-release projections that pegged the $120 million-budgeted “Rampage” for an opening of $35 million to $45 million, the Warner Bros. and New Line release arrived in theaters with just enough of a box office bang – $35.4 million – to eke out a No. 1 opening over previous weekend winner “A Quiet Place.”
Global audiences smelled what Johnson was cooking last December when he helped lead Sony Pictures’ positively reviewed “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” to $950 million worldwide.
But “Rampage,” in which he plays a primatologist trying to save the world and his primate BFF from a nefarious scientific experiment gone haywire, split critics down the middle with a 50 percent Rotten Tomatoes score even as audiences gave it an “A-minus” CinemaScore rating.
The Brad Peyton-directed action adventure took $114.1 million internationally in its worldwide debut for a $148.6 million total and will have to lean heavily on Johnson’s star power to keep a momentum that can offset the pricey budget.
Impressively, less than $2 million in ticket sales stood in the way of a “Quiet Place” upset by director-star John Krasinski, whose critically acclaimed tale about a family living in silence to hide from monsters came in at second with $32.6 million. That’s a modest 35 percent decline from its surprisingly potent debut last weekend.
The tense genre film also stars Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds is on the verge of breaking $100 million domestically.
The success of an inventive horror concept such as “A Quiet Place” coincides with the more low-hanging frights of Universal’s “Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare,” which landed a “B-minus” CinemaScore but an anemic 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Making the most of a gruesome plot inspired by the real-life game and tween catnip stars Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey, the critically panned PG-13 outing took in $19.09 million over the Friday the 13th weekend. Even so, made within the low-budget Blumhouse model, that’s still a recipe for success.
Fourth place went to Steven Spielberg’s pixel-party nostalgia-fest “Ready Player One,” which fell a hefty 54 percent from last weekend but added $11.2 million to its coins for a total of $114.6 million domestic to date.
The Kay Cannon-directed “Blockers” came in fifth, slipping a steep 50 percent to add another $10.29 million to its $36.92 million domestic tally. Universal’s R-rated comedy starring John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Geraldine Viswanathan, Kathryn Newton and Gideon Adlon has notched $52.9 million worldwide to date.
Wes Anderson’s stop-motion outing “Isle of Dogs” went ambitiously wide but made just $5 million from 1,939 locations. The Fox Searchlight release added 1,385 locations from last week but saw a weekend box office bump of only 10 percent.
Three weeks ago, “Dogs” opened in limited release to the best per-screen average of the year but also faced criticisms of cultural appropriation, largely from the Asian-American community.
Elsewhere in canine cinema, upstart distributor Fun Academy unleashed the animated title “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” – and added an “A” CinemaScore to a robust 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating – also in wide release, but weekend grosses barely cracked $1 million.
Slipping into 755 theaters for a $1.65 million take was Bleecker Street’s R-rated Jon Hamm starrer “Beirut,” a CIA spy film directed by “The Machinist’s” Brad Anderson. Written and produced by Tony Gilroy, the film scored 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It also stars Rosamund Pike.
The specialty release of note is Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Rider.” The award-winning drama from director Chloe Zhao stars Brady Jandreau as a former rodeo star redefining his sense of self after a devastating riding accident. It’s sitting pretty at 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
After premiering at Cannes, where it won the Directors’ Fortnight Art Cinema Award, the film opened to $45,268 from three theaters and solidifies Zhao as a rising director to watch.
Next weekend’s wide releases include STX Entertainment’s Amy Schumer vehicle “I Feel Pretty,” Fox Searchlight’s comedy sequel “Super Troopers 2” and Lionsgate and Codeblack’s thriller “Traffik.”
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