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|Stars of Bad Boy For Life (from left), Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. (Photo: AFP / Getty Images North America / Jon Kopaloff)|
It took Sony 17 years, but the latest Bad Boys sequel appears to be paying off, taking in an estimated US$59.2 million (S$79.77 million) for the start of a US holiday weekend, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday (Jan 19).
Bad Boys For Life stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as wise-cracking detectives who reunite after years apart (Bad Boys II dates from 2003, eight years after the original Bad Boys) to take on a murderous Miami drug cartel.
Its North American ticket sales – estimated at US$68.1 million when Monday's Martin Luther King Jr holiday is included – are nearly twice original predictions, according to Variety.com.
Another new release, Universal's Dolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr, placed second with an estimated US$22.5 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period (US$30 million for the four days).
Dolittle, based on a beloved children's book about a veterinarian who can talk to the animals, has been savaged by critics – who have called it "utterly lifeless," "a quicksand of a movie," and "shockingly unfunny."
The presence of Downey, hugely popular in the Marvel superhero films, and of an all-star voice cast including Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Antonio Banderas, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer and Marion Cotillard, may have helped boost its fortunes.
In third was a film that has done rather better with the critics, last weekend's box office leader, 1917, also from Universal. The World War I drama has booked US$22.1 million in ticket sales (US$27 million for four days).
One critic called the Sam Mendes movie, filmed as if in one long, continuous shot, a "protean display of virtuoso filmmaking."
Despite a lack of big stars, it has won both the Golden Globe and the Producers Guild of America awards for best drama, and is now seen as a best-picture favourite at the Oscars.
Sony's Jumanji: The Next Level, slid one spot from last weekend to fourth, taking in US$9.6 million (US$12.6 million). The action sequel stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart.
Fifth spot went to Disney's Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, at US$8.4 million (US$10.6 million). Globally, the finale of the nine-film "Skywalker Saga" has now surpassed the US$1 billion mark.
Rounding out the top 10 were:
Just Mercy (US$6 million; US$7.5 million for four days)
Little Women (US$5.9 million; US$7.4 million)
Knives Out (US$4.3 million; US$5.3 million)
Like A Boss (US$3.8 million; US$4.5 million)
Frozen II (US$3.7 million; US$5.1 million)