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Newcomers ‘Eddie the Eagle' and ‘Triple 9' also fail to muster up much business over Oscar weekend; ‘Deadpool' crosses $285 million in North America and $600 million worldwide, while ‘Kung Fu Panda 3' becomes the top-grossing animated film of all time in China.
Superhero sensation Deadpool continued to rock the multiplex in its third weekend, grossing $31.5 million from 3,856 theaters and burying Gods of Egypt, the first big-budget bomb of 2016 at the global box office.
From Lionsgate, Gods of Egypt opened to an estimated $14 million domestically from 3,117 locations after costing a hefty $140 million to produce (rival studios have it coming in closer to $13.8 million). The ancient fantasy epic, starring Gerard Butler, also bombed overseas, where it debuted to $24.2 million from 68 markets for a worldwide start of $38.2 million. It especially fell flat in Europe, while its top-grossing market was Russia with $3.5 million. Gods of Egypt doesn't land in China until March 11.
Deadpool, boasting a domestic total of $285.6 million, had plenty to celebrate as it jumped the $600 million mark worldwide for Fox after earning another $40 million overseas this weekend for a foreign total of $324.2 million and global cume of $610 million.
Another big winner overseas this weekend was Disney's animated offering Zootopia, which grossed $30 million from 31 markets for an early foreign tally of $81.4 million. The pic opens Friday domestically.
And Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation scored a major victory as Kung Fu Panda 3 became the top-grossing animated film of all time in China with $144.2 million. The threequel's worldwide total is now $314.2 million.
Gods of Egypt, with aspirations of launching a new franchise, is a major disappointment for Lionsgate and Butler, who had hoped to recreate the success enjoyed by Zack Snyder and Butler's 300. The film once again underscores there is no bottom anymore when a film is skewered by reviewers (Gods of Egypt sports only a 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
Still, Lionsgate insiders say the company's exposure on the pic's $140 million budget is limited to $10 million after foreign presales and hefty Australian tax credits, but that doesn't include $35 million to $40 million in marketing costs.
Directed by Alex Proyas, Gods of Egypt, which earned a problematic B- CinemaScore, stars Butler as god of darkness Set, whose rule has forced the Egyptian empire into chaos and conflict. Brenton Thwaites plays a mortal hero who teams with the god Horus (Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to save the empire.
“We’re disappointed with the results,” said Lionsgate distribution chief David Spitz. “It was certainly below expectations.”
Ancient epics are tricky business at the box office, but Hollywood remains obsessed with the proverbial sword-and-sandal genre at their own peril. In 2014, Lionsgate's The Legend of Hercules fell flat, topping out at under $63 million worldwide after costing $70 million to make. That same year, Paramount's Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson, fared somewhat better, grossing $244 million, but it sported a hefty production budget of $100 million. And the $100 million Pompeii also was a huge loss in 2014, topping out at $117.8 million globally.
Another complication for Gods of Egypt came last fall when Proyas and Lionsgate apologized after a loud outcry over the film's predominately white cast sparked headlines around the globe, tarnishing the film long before it even hit theaters. (Ridley Scott faced similar criticism over Exodus: Gods and Kings). Ironically, Gods of Egypt ended up playing to an ethnically diverse audience, with Hispanics making up the largest share of ticket buyers (39 percent), followed by Caucasians (28 percent) and African-Americans (18 percent).
The other two newcomers at the box office, the Matthew Vaughn-produced Eddie the Eagle and indie crime-thriller Triple 9, also failed to impress, although they are much smaller films. (Neither lacks star power, however.)
Eddie the Eagle opened to $6.3 million from 2,042 theaters to come in No. 5. The British sports biopic is toplined by Kingsman: The Secret Service star Taron Egerton as real-life British ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, while Hugh Jackman plays his coach. The film nabbed an A CinemaScore.
Vaughn, director and producer of the Kingsman franchise, and his close circle made Eddie the Eagle and brought the $23 million film to Fox, which had good reason to keep the filmmaker happy and handle the movie's release and marketing.
From Open Road Films, Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat, opened to an estimated $6.1 million from 2,205 theaters to place No. 6. That's a bullish estimate, with rivals projecting $5.8 million for the film, which received a withering C+ CinemaScore.
Triple 9 centers on crooked cops and criminals who plan a major heist. The cast includes Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Teresa Palmer and Gal Gadot.
Back in the top five, Kung Fu Panda 3 placed third behind Deadpool and Gods of Egypt, taking in another $9 million for a domestic total of $128.4 million, while Sony's faith-based Risen came in No. 4, declining a slim 41 percent in its second outing to $7 million for a domestic total of $22.7 million.
And in its second weekend, The Witch fell 43 percent to $5 million for a domestic total of $16.6 million. Indie distributor A24 says this is an impressive hold for a horror title.
Elsewhere, best picture Oscar contenders still playing in theaters saw an uptick this weekend as moviegoers rushed to catch up before Sunday's big show.
Placing No. 10, The Revenant grossed $3.8 million to clear the $170 million mark in North America. If it prevails at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, The Revenant will be the top-grossing best picture winner domestically since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003 ($377.8 million). Globally, The Revenant crossed the $400 million mark over the weekend, finishing Sunday with a foreign cume of $233.5 million and worldwide gross of $404 million.
And even though they are now available on DVD, best picture Oscar nominees Room and Spotlight also made gains. Room, from A24, was up 59 percent from last weekend, earning $650,000 in its 20th frame for a domestic total of $13.5 million, while Open Road's Spotlight was up 51 percent with $788,000 for a domestic cume of $39.2 million after its 17th weekend. Paramount's The Big Short, which isn't yet available in the home, earned $1 million in its 12th weekend (up 12 percent) for a domestic total of $68.5 million. And Fox Searchlight's Brooklyn, also not yet available on DVD, dipped a narrow 4 percent to $735,000 for a domestic total of $36.5 million in its 17th weekend.