+

Box Office: 'Girls' Trip' Nets Superb $30 Million Weekend

0

Girls Trip opened with a bang this weekend, notching a $30.371 million debut weekend and giving the summer (if not the year) its first real breakout comedy. Not only is that a terrific figure for a $20m, R-rated comedy, it had a decent 2.59x weekend multiplier. Couple that with an A+ Cinemascore ranking, the lack of comedy competition in the month ahead, and the whole "a prime filet mignon delivered on a silver platter to a starving demographic" thing, and I would be shocked if this was not relatively leggy.

As I noted yesterday, Girls Trip is a prototypical example of what Universal/ Comcast Corp. does best. In 2015, they also had a flurry of films for and from women and non-white talent, all treated not as counter-programming but as A-level events. Hence the good-to-great runs for Fifty Shades of Grey, Furious 7, Pitch Perfect 2, Trainwreck, Straight Outta Compton and Sisters. And you'll notice over the last several months, the only places where they stumbled is in offering a comparatively conventional global blockbuster, such as The Mummy and The Great Wall.

Even A Dog's Purpose made $194 million worldwide (thanks partially to $88m in China), which means we're getting a sequel ( A Dog's Revenge?). And that's to say nothing of Get Out ($252m on a $4.5m budget), Bridget Jones' Baby ($211m worldwide), The Girl on the Train ($173m worldwide) and Fate of the Furious ($1.2 billion worldwide). All of this brings us to Malcolm D. Lee's Girls Trip. The under-$20m/Will Packer-produced release is an event movie for those in its painfully underserved demographic, it's the event movie of the summer.

As such, the R-rated caper, written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver and starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish, earned a better overall weekend than Malcolm D. Lee's The Best Man Holiday ($30.1 million in 2013) and a better weekend multiplier than Bad Moms ($23.8m/$9.5m). My wife (who attended a Friday night show while I bummed around with the kids) can attest that the relatively crowded audience had a grand time.

Assuming it doesn't inexplicably drop dead after today, Girls Trip is the first comedy hit of the summer. No, I'm not necessarily expecting Bad Moms-level legs (nor am I ruling it out), but even a run like Think Like A Man or Barbershop: The Next Cut gets this one to $83m domestic, or four times the under-$20m budget. And sure, it could collapse like Think Like A Man Too ($65m/$29m), but that still gets the film to $67m domestic. If it plays like The Other Woman ($83m/$24m), we're looking at a $100m+ domestic total for Girls Trip.

We'll see how this plays out over the next month, but I would argue this one is already a winner. Once again, it's proof that there is money to be made via mainstream, upbeat entertainment starring folks who aren't used to see themselves as the star on the big screen. Speaking of which, I'm told Sony's Proud Mary trailer brought the house down.

In grimmer news, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets earned $17.02 million over the weekend. The Luc Besson sci-fi dazzler earned 10% of its weekend take via Thursday previews and earned an okay 2.6x weekend multiplier. The EuropaCorp offering, based on a popular French sci-fi comic book, cost $150m (after rebates and such) but allegedly covered the vast majority of its budget via foreign pre-sales. It played 60% male and 60% 24-and-up.

For the record, STX Entertainment is only on the hook for a few million dollars, but this is still a moral loss even as it'll be STX's second biggest debut weekend behind Bad Moms. For a movie like this to open with only $4 million more than The Bye-Bye Man is not encouraging, especially when you note that the cheap horror movie didn't play in 3D. It's another case of an original (or original to most audiences) sci-fi biggie just not breaking out, think John Carter, Jupiter Ascending or Tomorrowland.

This one will open worse than those since Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne are not movie stars and Dunkirk took all of the press and most of the biggest IMAX/PLF-ish auditoriums. I argued for months that Valerian should have been moved to the August 4thslot after Alien: Covenant shifted to May, and I hate being right. Valerian couldn't compete with Dunkirk in terms of "the movie you must see on the big screen" buzz let alone the deluge of otherwise sympathetic fans who are at SDCC this weekend.

And while the reviews were mixed-positive, they weren't superlative. I am hopeful that the film will catch on overseas, but it's certainly not going to amount to much in North America. And yeah, it really stinks that Valerian and Dunkirk came out on the same day.

If you like what you're reading, follow @ScottMendelson on Twitter, and "like" The Ticket Booth on Facebook. Also, check out my archives for older work HERE.