NEW YORK (AP) — In the calm before the Christmas storm at the box office, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” remained No. 1 for the third straight week, while the upcoming DC Comics superhero film “Aquaman” arrived with a cannonball-sized splash in Chinese theaters.
For the second week in a row, no new wide releases opened in North American theaters, allowing Disney’s animated sequel to again lead domestic ticket sales with $16.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The top six films at the box office were all unchanged. Universal’s “The Grinch,” still a major draw in its fifth weekend, trailed in second with $15.2 million.
But the weekend’s biggest new arrival was in China, where Warner Bros.′ “Aquaman” debuted with $93.6 million in ticket sales. That marked a new opening-weekend record for both Warner Bros. and DC in China. Considering the checkered recent history of DC films (“Justice League,” ″Suicide Squad”), the big launch in China was a promising sign for the spinoff starring Jason Momoa.
“Adding to the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ this is a really solid performance and portends big numbers for North America in two weeks when it opens,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “This is a movie, along with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and ‘Bumblebee’ and other movies, that’s going to give December that boost that a ‘Star Wars’ movie would give us.”
“Aquaman” will expand to 40 international countries next week and arrive in North American theaters Dec. 21.
“Aquaman” wasn’t the only big-budget holiday season release receiving a lift this week. Paramount’s “Transformers” prequel “Bumblebee” played a one-night sneak preview in 326 theaters nationwide ahead of its Dec. 21 release.
Paramount declined to share ticket figures but domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies said theaters were mostly sold out. Perhaps more importantly, the film directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld aided its word of mouth with largely glowing reviews — a rarity for the “Transformers” franchise.
Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” due out Dec. 19, also helped its cause with four Golden Globe nominations Thursday, including best picture, comedy or musical, and acting nods for Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The feel-good interracial road trip period tale “Green Book” fared even better at the Globes (five nominations, including best picture, comedy or musical, and acting nods for Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen) and had good results at the box office to show for it. In its fourth week of release, “Green Book” held with a rare 0 percent drop, earning $3.9 million in 1,181 theaters. It has grossed $20 million in total.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ comic period drama “The Favourite” continued to pick up steam. The acclaimed Fox Searchlight release, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, expanded into 91 theaters over the weekend to gross $1.4 million ($15,000 per theater).
A more traditional royal drama, “Mary Queen of Scots,” also opened strongly in limited release. The Focus Features title, starring Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, debuted in four theaters with a robust $50,045 per-theater average. Lis Bunnell, president of distribution for Focus, said the film’s modern spin “made it resonate with audiences in a powerful way paralleling so much of what is still going on today for women.”
Also opening in limited release were “Ben Is Back,” the family addiction drama with Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (a $20,243 per-theater average in four theaters), and the caustic pop music critique “Vox Lux,” with Natalie Portman (a $27,000 per-theater average in six theaters).
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” Universal re-released the Holocaust epic in 1,029 theaters. But it failed to turn out large crowds, grossing a modest $551,000.
Next weekend, the box office is expected to be significantly busier with the release of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” ″Once Upon a Deadpool” and Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” and “Mortal Engines.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
1. “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” $16.1 million.
2. “The Grinch,” $15.2 million ($25.9 million international).
3. “Creed II,” $10.3 million ($5.2 million international).
4. “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $6.8 million ($22 million international).
5. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $6 million ($29.2 million international).
6. “Instant Family,” $5.6 million ($1.7 million international).
7. “Green Book,” $3.9 million.
8. “Robin Hood,” $3.6 million ($7.5 million international).
9. “Possession of Hannah Grace,” $3.2 million ($4.8 million international).
10. “Widows,” $3.1 million ($4.5 million international).
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:
1. “Aquaman,” $93.6 million.
2. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $29.2 million.
3. “The Grinch,” $25.9 million.
4. “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $22 million.
5. “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” $18 million.
6. “Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $8 million.
7. “Robin Hood,” $7.5 million.
8. “A Cool Fish,” $6.9 million.
9. “Door Lock,” $5.3 million.
10. “Creed II,” $5.2 million.
This version corrects Ali’s first name, Mahershala not Maheshala.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.
Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.
The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.
“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.
Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.
Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.
“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”
Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.
Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.
It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.
Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”
Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.
Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.
Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.
Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.
“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”
The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.
They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.
Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.
Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.
“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”
Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.
Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
THEY SAID IT
D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”
Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.
Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.
‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is coming back, only ‘Stranger’
Robert Stack brought us over 500 Unsolved Mysteries episodes from 1987 to 2010 across three networks. Apparently, that’s not enough, and now the executive producer of Stranger Things wants a shot at rebooting the iconic television show for Netflix.
The series, which was hosted by Robert Stack and ran for over 500 episodes between 1987 and 2010, is being refreshed by Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment and Netflix.
The 12-part show will use re-enactments in a documentary format to profile real-life mysteries and unsolved crimes, lost love, cases involving missing persons and unexplained paranormal events. Each episode will focus on one mystery. In the original series, actors played the victims, criminals and witnesses but family members and police were regularly interviewed.
This is one of those shows that really doesn’t have a conclusion. It could conceivably go on indefinitely because there are always new and interesting mysteries to be solved. Since each one has its own spin and attachment to reality, there’s no need to worry about fatigue.
Some shows need to be buried forever. Others have a valid reason to keep going and get a reboot. Unsolved Mysteries falls in the latter category.
Trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum reveals everything we need and nothing we don’t
Fans of action movies have been foaming at the mouth over the John Wick series since it was launched in 2014. The first movie was amazing, scoring an uncanny 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, a rarity for action flicks. The sequel in 2017 was even better, scoring an 89% and breaking from the Hollywood tradition of completely botching things the second time around.
As the series reaches its cinematic climax, hopes are high that the long journey of the titular character, played by Keanu Reeves, will be the exception to the rule by delivering on three great movies. Few series have been able to do this, especially in the action genre. One can argue the Mission Impossible, Fast and Furious, and James Bond series were able to do it, but none of them did it consecutively. There were stinkers mixed in.
Lord of the Rings was a fantasy series with action while the original Star Wars trilogy did science fiction action like no other. Can John Wick be the first purely action trilogy to pull the trifecta?
If the trailer is any indicator, yes. Yes they can.
It has motorcycle sword fights. There’s a giant in the mix. We even get to see gun play on horseback. Throw in Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and the amazing supporting cast that has returned and suddenly there’s hope that the impossible can happen. They might be able to go from great to greater to greatest. Thankfully, this is a rare “good” trailer that gives us just enough information to know where we stand in the series but does’t have real spoilers that ruin the whole thing.
It’s noteworthy that this series has been one continuous series of events. Chapter 2 picked up shortly after the first, while Chapter 3 is an immediate continuation from Chapter 2.
The subtitle of the film, “Parabellum,” is Latin for “prepare for war.” That may not be possible since nothing can prepare fans to wait for it to come out, but we’re almost there. The film hits theaters on May 17.
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