NEW YORK – “Angel Has Fallen” easily topped the box office with $21.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, as the action sequel became the latest mid-budget release to find modest success in the often-quiet late summer.
The film beat expectations going into the weekend, opening similarly to the previous 2016 installment “London Has Fallen.” The film series stars Gerard Butler as a Secret Service agent protecting the U.S. president played by Morgan Freeman. In “Angel Has Fallen,” Butler’s agent is wrongly accused of trying to assassinate POTUS.
Going back to 2013’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” the franchise has been a quietly consistent performer, taking in roughly $200 million worldwide each time. “Angel Has Fallen,” produced for about $40 million, is poised for a similar course, opening just shy of the $21.6 million “London Has Fallen” debut.
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David Spitz, president of domestic distribution for Lionsgate, points to the film’s A-minus grade from moviegoers on CinemaScore and 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (far better than the 40% critic score) as good word-of-mouth harbingers for the continued playability of “Angel Has Fallen” through the last weeks of summer.
“That’s a great sign that the movie is going to be theaters for a long time,” Spitz says.
Late August is known as a sleepy period at the box office, but it’s also one of the few parts of the calendar relatively light on big-budget tentpole releases.
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That’s given some room for recent successes such as the comedy hit “Good Boys,” which slid to second with $11.8 million. Last week, it became the first R-rated comedy in more than three years to land at No.1. The tween-friendly “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” has also flourished in August, taking in $50.5 million in three weeks, including $6 million this weekend.
Some of the bigger films are still expanding around the globe. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw” opened this weekend in China – where the high-octane franchise has regularly thrived – grossing $102 million and pushing the film to a worldwide total of $588.9 million.
Disney’s “The Lion King,” after seven weeks of release, still ranks among the top four films domestically and has now passed $1.5 billion worldwide. That ranks ninth all time, not accounting for inflation.
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However, the acclaimed horror release “Ready or Not,” about a bride forced into a deadly game of hide-and-seek with her new in-laws, got off to a lackluster start with $7.6 million in ticket sales and $10.6 million since opening Wednesday.
Faring better was the Christian film “Overcomer,” which landed in third with $8 million. It also scored an A-plus CinemaScore from audiences.
Among specialty releases, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” about a young woman (Jillian Bell) who devotes herself to running to lose weight, scored the weekend’s most packed theaters. It debuted with a per-theater average of $35,200 in five locations.
And “Peanut Butter Falcon” made an impression in expansion, taking in $3 million from nearly 1,000 theaters. The film stars Zack Gottsagen, who has Down syndrome, Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson.
Final numbers are expected Monday.