Disney’s inherited Fox title Death on the Nile—directed by and starring the recently Oscar-nominated Kenneth Branagh—debuted at the number one spot on the weekend box office, with an estimated $12.8 million across three days. That’s less than half of what its predecessor, Murder on the Orient Express, opened to in 2017. That film exceeded expectations with a $28.6 million three-day debut, tapping out with an impressive $102 million domestic total.
Death on the Nile was greenlit shortly after the release of the first film, which did around $350 million internationally—a solid result for an older-skewing period piece based on a nearly 100-year-old novel. The sequel has a heftier budget—$90 million as compared to the first film’s $55 million—but boasts an equally impressive ensemble cast, led by Wonder Woman Gal Gadot herself, and also featuring Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, and others.
Both movies are based on classic detective novels by Agatha Christie, popularly known as the Queen of Crime. Death on the Nile was previously adapted for the big screen in 1978, in a hit film that marked Peter Ustinov’s first time playing the iconic Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, a role that Branagh and his fabulous mustache have now taken over.
While the film’s muted opening can be attributed to older audiences’ cautiousness about returning to theaters in the aftermath of the Omicron variant, the underperformance of leftover Fox titles under the new Disney regime is becoming a trend. Prior to Death on the Nile, films such as The New Mutants, The King’s Man, West Side Story, and The Last Duel all tanked dramatically.
Coming in at the number two spot with an estimated $8 million opening weekend haul was Universal’s romantic comedy Marry Me, starring Jennifer Lopez as a pop-star who decides to get married to a stranger holding a “marry me” sign at one of her concerts. Also starring Owen Wilson, the film has been made available on the Peacock streaming service’s premium tier. It’s becoming increasingly rare to see rom-coms of this scale—many of which Lopez herself has starred in the past—get a theatrical release these days. And because of its relatively modest $23 million budget, an $8 million opening is a fairly decent result for the film.
After a chart-topping debut last weekend, Paramount’s Jackass Forever fell by 65% for an estimated second-weekend haul of $8.3 million, taking its running domestic total to over $37 million. Paramount bet heavily on the film, holding off on a streaming release, and it paid off. Especially when you take into account that this was a largely dormant IP, arriving over a decade after the last main entry.
Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, which dominated the box office for virtually two entire months, came in at number four, with another $7 million in the bank, taking its domestic total to $758.8 million. It will pass Avatar’s $760.5 million record and claim the number three spot on the all-time list sometime next week.
Debuting outside the top five was the atrociously reviewed Liam Neeson vehicle Blacklight, which made just $2.8 million in over 2,700 theaters. The once-bulletproof action sub-genre that Neeson helped birth seems to have completely run out of steam now. The film was edged out by the animated sequel Sing 2, which added another $3 million this weekend, for a running domestic total of $143 million.
Next weekend will see the release of Sony’s long-in-the-making video game adaptation Uncharted, starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, and Dog, the directorial debut of Channing Tatum and his longtime creative partner Reid Carolin.
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