Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: LGF-A) comedy action film “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” was the winner at the U.S. box office over the weekend while the musical “In the Heights” saw its commercial appeal wither amid a controversy over the film’s casting.
Top Of The Chart: “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is a sequel to the popular 2017 release “The Hitman’s Wife.” Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek reprised their roles in the new flick, which topped the domestic box office at $11.6 million spread across more than 3,300 cinemas. Unlike most films now in theatrical release, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is playing exclusively in theaters and is not simultaneously available on a streaming service.
The horror film “A Quiet Place Part II” from the ViacomCBS VIAC subsidiary Paramount secured the second-highest box office of the weekend with $9.4 million spread across 3,401 cinemas. The film, which is now in its fourth week of theatrical release, also became one of two COVID-19 pandemic-era films to gross $100 million in the U.S. market.
According to Variety, “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” from Sony Group Corp SONY ranked third at the box office at $6.1 million while “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” from AT&T Inc. T Warner Bros. and “Cruella” from Walt Disney Co DIS both grossed approximately $5.1 million and will need to await for an official box office tally to determine which placed fourth and which ranked fifth.
An Off-Key Problem: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the list was the abrupt drop of Warner Bros.’ “In the Heights,” the adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical, which ranked sixth at $4.2 million, a 63% plummet from its opening last week when it ranked second behind “A Quiet Place Part II” with an $11.5 million box office return.
“In the Heights,” which focuses on a Dominican community in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, was heavily promoted prior to its opening, but received an unexpected colorism backlash from critics for the absence of Afro-Latinos in its cast. Miranda used a social media post to acknowledge, “In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry. I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening.”
Actress Rita Moreno, who was not part of “In the Heights,” inadvertently fueled the controversy further by coming to the film’s defense during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” by claiming Miranda’s critics were “attacking the wrong person.” She later backpedaled on her remarks, using her social media channels to acknowledge, “I was clearly dismissive of black lives that matter in our Latin community. It is so easy to forget how celebration for some is lament for others.”
Moreno is the focus of the new Roadside Attractions limited-release documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It,” which grossed $75,715 from a 227-screen release over the weekend.
In Other Developments: “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which opened in the U.S. on March 31 via Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures Productions LLC, a subsidiary of China's Wanda Group, joined “A Quiet Place Part II” in crossing the $100 million mark for domestic box office this weekend. The film’s total global box office is $432 million.
And one doesn’t need to be a certified clairvoyant to guess “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” will be dislodged from the top grossing spot next weekend, as “F9,” the latest installment in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise from Comcast Corporation CMCSA subsidiary Universal Pictures, is slated to open in the U.S. on June 25. The film has already grossed more than $292 million in its Asian and European releases.
(Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek and Samuel L. Jackson in "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard." Photo courtesy Lionsgate Entertainment.
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