It took Sony 17 years, but the latest "Bad Boys" sequel appears to be paying off, taking in an estimated $59.2 million for the start of a US holiday weekend, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.
"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 $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 $22.5 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period ($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 $22.1 million in ticket sales ($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 favorite at the Oscars.
Sony's "Jumanji: The Next Level," slid one spot from last weekend to fourth, taking in $9.6 million ($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 $8.4 million ($10.6 million). Globally, the finale of the nine-film "Skywalker Saga" has now surpassed the $1 billion mark.
Rounding out the top 10 were:
"Just Mercy" ($6 million; $7.5 million for four days
"Little Women" ($5.9 million; $7.4 million)
"Knives Out" ($4.3 million; $5.3 million
"Like a Boss" ($3.8 million; $4.5 million)
"Frozen II" ($3.7 million; $5.1 million)
Los Angeles, United States | AFP