Weekend Box Office: 'The Meg' Has Surprisingly Huge Bite With $44.5M US Debut


The shark pic marks Warner Bros.' biggest domestic opening of the year so far, while debuting to $97 million overseas for a global bite of $141.5 million; Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman' lands in the top five with $10.8 million.

For the third summer in a row, the shark movie has made a comeback.

Warner Bros.' The Meg blew past all expectations in its North American debut, swimming to $44.5 million from 4,118 theaters, the biggest opening of all time for a live-action shark pic — not adjusted for inflation — and riding the wave of success enjoyed by 47 Meters (2017) and The Shallows (2016). The Meg also marks the studio's biggest opening of the year to date, supplanting Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One ($41.8 million) and Ocean's 8 ($41.6 million).

The big-budget movie is also showing strength overseas. China's Gravity Pictures, which put up a significant portion of the budget, is handling distribution duties in the Middle Kingdom, where the movie debuted to $50.3 million for a total foreign opening of $97 million and global bite of $141.5 million. Imax turned in $13.6 million, with more than half coming from China ($7 million).

The movie's showing in North America was particularly good news for Warner Bros. and Gravity, which paid at least $150 million to produce the long-in-the-making film, directed by Jon Turteltaub (the studio says the net budget was $130 million). The Meg still isn't out of danger in terms of making its production and marketing cost back.

Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao and Cliff Curtis co-star in the film, which follows a group of scientists trying to stop a mammoth shark from causing destruction.

In summer 1975, director Steven Spielberg made history with the classic shark film Jaws, which remains the top-grossing live-action shark film in the U.S., adjusted or not. The Shallows, starring Blake Lively, revived the genre in grossing $119 million globally against a modest $25 million budget in 2016. That was followed by 47 Meters Down last summer, which garnered $44.3 million against a $5.5 million budget.

The Shallows debuted to $16.8 million domesticallyi, while 47 Meters down opened to $11.2 million. The record-holder for biggest opening is Deep Blue Sea, which opened to $19.1 million in 1999, not adjusted for inflation.

The Meg easily came in No. 1, while Mission: Impossible — Fallout fell to No. 2 in its third weekend with $20 million from 3,888 theaters for a pleasing domestic total of $162 million for Paramount and Skydance. M:I6 took in another $38.4 million overseas for a foreign tally of $275.6 million and global haul of $427.6 million. (It will soon catch up with the last film in the series, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation).

Disney holdover Christopher Robin placed No. 3 in its second weekend with $12.4 million for a domestic tally of $50 million and $62.1 million globally (the Winnie-the-Pooh pic is rolling out slowly offshore.)

Several other movies opened nationwide opposite The Meg, including Sony's Screen Gems low-budget Slender Man, a supernatural horror film that came in No. 4 $11.3 million from 2,358 theaters. One question mark is whether a D- CinemaScore is hurting the movie, although poor CinemaScores aren't uncommon for horror films.

The Screen Gems film follows a group of friends fascinated by the internet lore of the boogeyman known as the Slender Man. When they try to prove he doesn't exist, one of them mysteriously disappears.

Spike Lee's high-profile Cannes Film Festival entry BlacKkKlansman rounded out the top five with a pleasing $10.8 million from 1,512 theaters, a solid start for a specialty film launching in summer versus during awards season.

The film, from Focus Features, tells the true story of two Colorado cops, one black (John David Washington) and one Jewish (Adam Driver), who infiltrated their local KKK chapter in the early 1970s. The movie nabbed an A- CinemaScore, and drew a diverse audience. Caucasians made up 55 percent of the audience, followed by African-Americans (23 percent), Hispanics (13 percent) and Asians 6 percent. More than 40 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 35.

The weekend's fourth new nationwide offering is the indie film Dog Days, from LD Entertainment. The family comedy, about the intersection of humans and canines, grossed $3.6 million from 2,357 locations. The ensemble cast includes Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Lauren Lapkus, Thomas Lennon, Adam Pally, Ryan Hansen and Rob Corddry.

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